LIBER LI THE LOST CONTINENT
by Aleister Crowley
“In particular there is a sort of novel, “The Lost Continent”, purporting to give an account of the civilization of Atlantis. I sometimes feel that this lacks artistic unity. At times it is a fantastic rhapsody describing my ideals of Utopian society; but some passages are a satire on the conditions of our existing civilization, while others convey hints of certain profound magical secrets, or anticipations of discoveries in science.”
— Crowley, writing of the Summer of 1913 e.v. from Confessions, p. 730.
Last year I was chosen to succeed the venerable K-Z — who had it in his mind to die, that is, to join Them in Venus, as one of the Seven Heirs of Atlantis, and I have been appointed to declare, so far as may found possible, the truth about that mysterious lost land. Of course, no more than one seventh of the wisdom is ever confided to one of the Seven, and the Seven meet in council but once in every thirty-three years. But its preservation is guaranteed by the interlocked systems of “dreaming true” and of “preparation of the antinomy.” The former almost explains itself; the latter is almost inconceivable to normal man. Its essence is to train a man to be anything by training him to be its opposite. At the end of anything, think they, it turns out to be its opposite, and that opposite is thus mastered without having been soiled by the labours of the student, and without the false impressions of early learning being left upon the mind.
I myself, for example, had unknowingly been trained to record these observations by the life of a butterfly. All my impressions came clear on the soft wax of my brain; I had never worried because the scratch on the wax in no way resembled the sound it represented. In other words, I observed perfectly because I never knew that I was observing. So, if you pay sufficient attention to your heart, you will make it palpitate.
I accordingly proceed to a description of the country.
OF THE PLAINS BENEATH ATLAS, AND ITS SERVILE RACE.
Atlas is the true name of this archipelago — continent is an altogether false term, for every “house” or mountain peak was cut from its fellows by natural, though often very narrow waterways. The African Atlas is a mere offshoot of the range. It was the true Atlas that supported the ancient world by its moral and magical strength, and hence the name of the fabled globe-bearer. The root is the Lemurian “Tla” or “Tlas”, black, for reasons which will appear in due course. “A” is the feminine prefix, derived from the shape of the mouth when uttering the sound. “Black woman” is therefore as near a translation as one can give in English; the Latin has a closer equivalent.
The mountains are cut off, not only from each other by the channels of the sea, but from the plains at their feet by cliffs naturally or artificially smoothed and undercut for at least thirty feet on every side in order to make access impossible.
These plains had been made flat by generations of labour. Vines and fruit-trees growing only on the upper slopes, they were devoted principally to corn, and to grass pastures for the amphibian herds of Atlas. This corn was of a kind now unknown, flourishing in sea-water, and the periodical flood-tides served the same purpose as the Nile in Egypt. Enormous floating stages of spongy rock — no trees of any kind grew anywhere on the plains so wood was unknown — supported the villages. These were inhabited by a type of man similar to the modern Caucasian race. They were not permitted to use any of the food of their masters, neither the corn, nor the amphibians, nor the vast supplies of shellfish, but were fed by what they called “bread from heaven,” which indeed came down from the mountains, being the whole of their refuse of every kind. The whole population was put to perpetual hard labour. The young and active tended the amphibians, grew the corn, collected the shell-fish, gathered the “bread from heaven” for their elders, and were compelled to reproduce their kind. At twenty they were considered strong enough for the factory, where they worked in gangs on a machine combining the features of our pump and treadmill for sixteen hours of the twentyfour. This machine supplied Atlas with its “ZRO” or “power,” of which I shall speak presently. Any worker showing even temporary weakness was transferred to the phosphorus works, where he was sure to die within a few months. Phosphorus was a prime necessity of Atlas; however, it was not used in its red or yellow forms, but in a third allotrope, a blue-black or rather violet-black substance, only known in powder finer than precipitated gold, harder than diamond, eleven times heavier than yellow phosphorus, quite incombustible, and so shockingly poisonous that, in spite of every precaution, an ounce of it cost the lives (on an average) of some two hundred and fifty men. Of its properties I shall speak later.
The people were left in utmost slavery and ignorance by the wise counsel of the first of the philosophers of Atlas, who had written: “An empty brain is a threat to Society.” He had consequently instituted a system of mental culture, comprising two parts:
[#1] There were four (some say five) distinct races, each having several sub-races. But the main characteristics were the same. some alleged the Portuguese and the English to be survivals of this or kindred stock.
[#2] Or Zra’d. The ZR is drawled slowly; the the lips are suddenly curled back in a sneering snarl, and the vowel sharply and forcibly uttered. It is disputed whether this word is connected with the Sanscrit SRI, holy.
1. As a basis, a mass of useless disconnected facts.
2. A superstructure of lies.
Part 1 was compulsory; the people then took Part 2 without protest.
The language of the plains was simple but profuse. They had few nouns and fewer verbs. “To work again” (there was no word for “to work” simply), “to eat again,” “to break the law” (no word for “to break the law again”), “to come from without,” “to find light” (“i.e. “to go to the phosphorus factory) were almost the only verbs used by adults. The young men and women had a verb-language yet simpler, and of degraded coarseness. All had, however, an extraordinary wealth of adjectives, most of them meaningless, as attached to no noun ideas, and a great quantity of abstract nouns such as “Liberty,” “Progress,” without which no refined inhabitant could consider a sentence complete. He would introduce them into a discussion on the most material subjects. “The immoral snub-nose,” “the unprogressive teeth,” “lascivious music,” “reactionary eyebrows” — such were phrases familiar to all.”To eat again, to sleep again, to work again, to find the light — that is Liberty, that is Progress” was a proverb common in every mouth.
The religion of the people was Protestant Christianity in all essentials, but with an even closer dependence upon God. They asserted its formulae, without attaching any meaning to the words, in a manner both reverent and passionate. Sexual life was entirely forbidden to the workers, a single breach implying relegation to the phosphorus works.
In every field was, however, an enormous tablet of rock,carved on one side with a representation of the three stages of life: the fields, the labour mill, the factory; and on the other side with these words: “To enter Atlas, fly.” Beneath this an elaborate series of graphic pictures showed how to acquire the art of flying. During all the generations of Atlas, not one man had been known to take advantage of these instructions.
The principal fear of the populace was a variation of any kind from routine. For any such the people had one word only, though this word changed its annotation in different centuries. “Witchcraft,” “Heresy,” “Madness,” “Bad Form,” “Sex-Perversion,” “Black Magic” were its principal shapes in the last four thousand years of the dominion of Atlas.
Sneezing, idleness, smiling, were regarded as premonitory. Any cessation from speech, even for a moment to take breath, was considered highly dangerous. The wish to be alone was worse than all; the delinquent would be seized by his fellows, and either killed outright or thrust into the compound of the phosphorus factory, from which there was no egress.
The habits of the people were incredibly disgusting. Their principal relaxations were art, music and the drama, in which they could show achievement hardly inferior to that of Henry Arthur Jones, Pinero, Lehar, George Dance, Luke Fildes, and Thomas Sidney Cooper.
Of medicine they were happily ignorant. The outdoor life in that equable climate bred strong youths and maidens, and the first symptoms of illness in a worker was held to impair his efficiency and qualify him for the phosphorous factory. Wages were permanently high, and as there were no merchants even of alcohol, whose use was forbidden, every man saved all his earnings, and died rich. At his death his savings went back to the community. Taxation was consequently unnecessary. Clothes were unnecessary and unknown, and the “bread from heaven” was the “free gift of God.” The dead were thrown to the amphibians.
[#3] The same danger to society in our own time has been forseen, and an identical remedy discovered and applied in compulsory education and cheap newspapers.
Each man built his own shelter of the rough stone sponge which abounded. The word “house” was used only in Atlas; the servile race called its huts “Hloklost” (equivalent to the English word “home”). Discontent was absolutely unknown. It had not been considered necessary to prohibit traffic with foreign countries, as the inhabitants of such were esteemed barbarians. Had a ship landed men, they would have been murdered to a man, supposing that Atlas had permitted any approach to its shores. That it hindered such, and by infallible means, was due to other considerations, whose nature will form the subject of a subsequent chapter.
This then is the nature of the plains beneath Atlas, and the character of the servile race.
OF THE RACE OF ATLAS.
In the city or “house” which was formed from the crest of every mountain, dwelt a race not greatly superior in height to our own, but of vaster frame. The bulk and strength of the bear is not inappropriate as a simile for the lower classes; the higher had the enormous chest and shoulders and the lean haunches of the lion. This strength gave an infallible beauty, made monstrous by their most inexorable law, that every child who developed no special feature in the first seven years should be sacrificed to the Gods. This special feature might be a nose of prodigious size, hands and wrists of gigantic strength, a gorilla jaw, an elephant ear — or any of these might entitle its owner to life: for in all such variations from the normal they perceived the possibility of a development of the race. Men and women were hairy as the ourang-outang and all were closely shaven from head to foot. It had been found that this practice developed tactile sensibility. It was also done in reverence to the “Living Atla,” of which more in its place.
The lower class were few in number. Its function was to superintend the servile race, to bring the food of the children to the banqueting-hall, to remove the same, to attend to the disposition of the “light-screens,” to ensure the continuance of the race by the begetting, bearing and nourishing of the children.
The priestly class was concerned with the further preparation of the Zro supplied by the labour-mills, and its impregnation with phosphorus. This class had much leisure for “work,” a subject to be explained later.
The High Priests and High Priestesses were restricted in number to eleven times thirty-three in any one “house.” To them were entrusted the final secrets of Atlas, and to them was confided the conduct of the experiments in which every will was bound up.
The colour of the Atlanteans was very various, though the hair was invariably of a fiery chestnut with bluish reflections. One might see women whiter than Aphrodite, others tawny as Cleopatra, others yellow as Tu-Chi, others of a strange, subtle blue like the tattooed faces of Chin women, others again red as copper. Green was however a prohibited hue for women, and red was not liked in men. Violet was rare, but highly prized, and children born of that colour were specially reared by the High Priestesses.
However, in one part of the body all the women were perfectly black with a blackness no negro can equal; from this circumstance comes the name Atlas. It is absurdly attributed by some authors to the deposit of excess of phosphorus in the Zro. I need only point out that the mark existed long before the discovery of black phosphorus. It is evidently a racial stigma. It was the birth of a girl child without this mark which raised her mother to the rank of goddess, and ended the terrestrial adventure of the Atlanteans, as will presently appear.
Of the ethics of this people little need be said. Their word for “right” is “phph” made by the blowing with the jaw drawn sharply across from left to right, thus meaning “a spiral life contrary to the course of the Sun.” We may
[#4] Gautama Buddha was the reincarnation or legend of a previous Buddha who was a missionary from Atlas, hence the account of his immovable neck, the ears that he could fold over his face, and other monstrous details.
[#5] There was a Governor of these, of whose name, nature and function I am not permitted to speak.
assume it as “contrary.” “Whatever is, is wrong” seems to have been their first principle. Legs were “wrong” because they only carry you five miles in the hour: let us refuse to walk; let us ride horseback. So the horse is “wrong” compared to the train and the motor-car; and these are “wrong” to the aeroplane. If speed had been the Atlantean’s object, he would have thought aeroplanes “wrong” and all else too, so long as the speed of light was not surpassed by him.
Curious survivals of these laws are found in the Jewish transcript of the Egyptian code, which they, being a slave race, interpreted in the reverse manner.
“Thou shalt not make any graven image.” Every male child on attaining manhood, had a graven image given him to worship, a miracle-working image, whose principle exploits he would tattoo upon it.
“Remember the Sabbath Day and keep it holy.” The Atlantean kept one day in seven for all purposes unconnected with his principle task.
“Thou shalt not commit adultery.” Though the Atlanteans married, intercourse with the wife was the only act forbidden.
“Honour thy father and thy mother.” On the contrary, they worshipped their children, as if to say: “This is the God whom I have made in my own likeness.”
Similarly, there is one exception and one only to the rule of silence. It is the utterance of the ‘Name’ which it is death to pronounce. This word was constantly in their mouths; it is “Zcrra”, a sort of venomous throat-gargling. Hence, possibly the Gaelic “Scurr” “speak,” English “Scaur” or “Scar” in Yorkshire and the Pennines. “Zcrra” is also the name of the “High House,” and of the graven image referred to above.
Others traces may be found in folklore; some mere superstitions. Thus the correct number for a banquet was thirteen, because if there were only one more sign in the Zodiac, the year would be a month longer, and one would have more time “for work.” This is probably a debased Egyptian notion. Atlanteans knew better than anyone that the Zodiac is only an arbitrary division. Still it may be laid down that the impossible never daunted Atlas. If one said, “Two and two make Four” his thought would be “Yes, damn it!”
I now explain the language of Atlas. The third and greatest of their philosophers saw that speech had wrought more harm than good, and he consequently instituted a peculiar rite. Two men were chosen by lot to preserve the language, which, by the way, consisted of monosyllables only, two hundred and fourteen in number, to each of which was attached a diacritical gesture, usually ideographic.
Thus “wrong” is given as “phph” moving the jaw from right to left. Wiping the brow with “phph” means “hot,” hollowing the hands over the mouth “fire,” striking the throat “to die;” so that each “radical” may have hundreds of gesture-derivatives. Grammar, by the way, hardly existed, the quick apprehension of the Atlanteans rendering it unnecessary.
These two men then departed to a cavern on the side of the mountain just above the cliff, and there for a year they remained, speaking the language and carving it symbolically upon the rock. At the end of the year they returned; the elder is sacrificed and the younger returns with a volunteer, usually one who wishes to expiate a fault, and teaches him the language. During his visit he observes whether any new thing needs a name, and if so he invents it, and adds it to the language. This process continued to the end. The rest of the people abandoned altogether the use of speech, only a few years’ practice enabling them to dispense with the radicle. They then sought to do without
[#6] One of the most brilliant children committed suicide on learning that he could not move his upper jaw. This boy is one of the eleven heroes who had statues in the High House. And the Atlantean for “sorrow” in its ultimate sense (“dukka” or “weltschmerz”) is to wrench at the upper jaw.
gesture, and in eight generations the difficulty was conquered, and telepathy established. Research then devoted itself to the task of doing without thought; this will be discussed in detail in the proper place. There was also a “listener,” three men who took turns to sit upon the highest peak, above the “light-screens,” and whose duty it was to give the alarm if any noise disturbed Atlas. On their report that High Priest charged with active governorship would take steps to ascertain and destroy the cause.
The “light-screens” spoken of were a contrivance of laminae of a certain spar such that the light and heat of the Sun were completely cut off, not by opacity, but by what we call “interference.” In this way other subtle rays of the Sun entered the “house,” these rays being supposed to be necessary to life. These matters were the subjects of the deepest controversy. Some held that these rays themselves were injurious and should be excluded. Others considered that the light-screens should be put in position during moonlight, instead of being opened at sunset, as was the custom. This, however, was never attempted, the great mass of the people being devoted to the Moon. Others wished full sunlight, the aim of Atlas being (they thought) to reach the Sun. But this theory contradicted the prime axiom of attaining things through their opposites, and was only held by the lower classes, who were not initiated into this doctrine.
The “houses” of Atlas were carved from the living rock by the action of Zro in its seventh precipitation. Enormously solid, the walls were lofty and smoother than glass, though the pavements were rough and broken almost everywhere for a reason which I am not permitted to disclose. The passages were invariably narrow, so that two persons could never pass each other. When two met, it was the law to greet by joining in “work” and then going away together on their separate errands, or passing one above the other. This was done purposely, so as to remind every man of his duty to Atlas on every occasion on which he might meet a fellow-citizen.
The Banqueting-Hall of the children was usually very large. The furniture, which had been brought by the first colonists, and gradually disused by adults, never needed repair. A vast open doorway facing North opened on the mountainside on to the vineyards and orchards, the meadows and gardens, in which the children passed their time. Suckled by the mother for three months only, the child was then already able to nourish itself on the bread and wine, and on the flesh of the amphibious herds, of which there were several kinds; one a piglike animal with flesh resembling wild duck, another a sort of amatee tasting like salmon, its fat being somewhat like caviar in everything but texture, and a sure specific for any of childhood’s troubles. A third, an ancestor of our hippopotamus, was really tamed, and was employed by the serviles for preparing the ground for the corn, trampling through the fields while they were covered with sea-water, and thus leaving deep holes in which the seeds were cast. Its flesh was not unlike bear, but more delicate. Notable, too, was the great quantity of turtle; also the giant oysters, the huge deep sea crabs, a kind of octopus whose flesh made a nutritious and elegant soup, and innumerable shell-fish, added to the table. The waterways were haunted by shoals of a small and poisonous fish, whose bite was immediate death to man, a fact which altogether cut off communication between one island and another except by air, as the hippopotamus-animal, although immune to its bite, was unable to swim.
Of the sleeping chambers I shall tell more particularly in the course of my remarks on Zro.
[#7] This system of communication has great advantages over any other. It is independent of distance, and dependent on the will of the transmitter. Telepathic messages could not be “tapped” or miscarry in any way.
[#8] Called by them Zhee-Zhou, in imitation of the swish of the tail and the cry of its victim.
OF THE AIM OF THE MAGICIANS OF ATLAS: OF ZRO; AND ITS PROPERTIES AND USES: OF THAT WHICH COMBINED WITH IT: AND OF BLACKPHOSPHORUS.
It was the most ancient tradition of the Atlantean Magicians that they were the survivors of a race inhabiting a country called Lemuria, of which the South Pacific archipelago may be the remains. These Lemurians had, they held, built up a civilization equal, if not superior to their own; but through a misunderstanding of magical law — some said the 2nd, some the 8th, some the 23rd — had involved themselves and their land in ruin. Others thought that the Lemurians had succeeded in their magical task, and broken their temple. In any case, it was the secret Lemurian tradition that they themselves represented the survivals of a yet earlier race who lived on ice, and they of yet another who lived in fire, and they again of earlier colonists from Mars. The theory, in fine, was that the aim of man is to attain the Sun, whence, according to one school of cosmology, he was exiled in the cosmic catastrophe which resulted in the formation of Neptune. His task on any given planet was therefore to overturn the laws of Nature on that planet, thus mastering it sufficiently to enable him to make the leap to the next planet inward. Exactly how and in what sense the leap was made remains obscure, even to the heirs of Atlantis.
The men of Atlas could fly, it is true, and that by a method so simple that men will laugh outright when it is rediscovered; but they needed air to support them; they could not confront the cold and emptiness of space. Was it in some subtler body that they conveyed the Palladium? Or, content to die, could they project some vehicle across so great a distance? The answer to such questions probably lies in the recovery by mankind of the knowledge of Zro and its properties.
Beneath the labour mills run troughsin which the sweat of the workers collects and drains off into an open basin without the mill. In this basin churns with immense rapidity — through multiple bevel gearing — a sort of paddle with knife edges. The sweat is thus churned into froth, and gradually disappears, and is as continually replaced. The workers toil in shifts — eight hours work, four hours repose, eight hours work, four hours rest and recreation. The mills never cease day or night.
The basin is of polished silver and agate, and is set at an angle, facing two enormous spheres of crystal, encased in a sort of trellis made of a certain greenish metal, its optical focus at a point midway between the two.
The only sign of activity is that out of this focus a spark crackles unless the air be dry, a condition difficult to secure in this part of the world, although fans blow air, dried over chloride of calcium and sulphuric acid, over the globes and their focus. These fans are worked by tidal power, human labour being appropriated solely to the one use.
[#9] The point was discussed fully, and finally relegated, in the Council of Stockholm, 1913.
[#10] The scene is so real to me that I find it impossible to avoid using the historic present here and elsewhere, inadvertently.
[#11] There are six other pieces of apparatus to insulate and carry to the basin the six subtler principles of sweat.
In the temple of the “house” are two globes similar to those upon the plains, and the mysterious force generated below is transferred to those above, collecting within them. Now the name of this substance is always Zro, but in its first state the gesture is a twiddling of the thumbs. In its second, it is a rapid twittering of the fingers, and in its third state of distillation it is a screwing of the hands together. Within the spheres it sublimes suddenly in the air as a snaky powder (4) of silver, which immediately turns to an iridescent fluid (5) that is forced up, by its own need of expansion, through a fountain into the temple, on whose floor it lies (6) in a semi-solid condition. Expert Priests gather this in their hands, and rapidly shape it into its seventh state, when it is a knife of diamond, but alive. An instrument like a Mexican machete is used to carve rocks. The edge shears them, the back smooths them. The rock behaves exactly like wax, responsive to the lightest touch. What is not used for weapons is then gathered up swiftly and kneaded by women of the rank of High Priestess. It is not known even to the High Priests with what they knead it, but in its eighth stage it is a substance solid enough to support great weight, but eternally heaving of its own force. Of this they make beds, so that the sleeping Atlantean is (as it were) continually massaged. To this they attribute the fact that Atlanteans sleep never more than half an hour, though they do so four times daily. These beds remain active only for a few days, and they are then thrown into the ninth stage by being taken into a room where is a cauldron of great size. They are thrown into this and sprinkled with black phosphorus. The Zro then divides into two parts, one liquid, one solid. Neither of these has any ascertainable properties, for it is absolutely passive to the will of the user, who may taste therein his utmost desire, whether for food or drink. Among adults there is no other food or drink than this. The children are not allowed to taste it.
The black phosphorus is always added by a High Priestess, and it is not known in what matter she does this. The Zro that may remain is the subject of eternal experiments by the Magicians. It is generally thought by the greatest of them that an error was committed in bringing it to a ninth stage of division into two, and many openly deplored the discovery of black phosphorus. All however strive in harmony to produce a tenth stage that shall surpass the virtues of the ninth.
Theoretically it is possible to reach an eleventh stage wherein the Zro takes human form, and lives! Opinion is divided as to whether this was not actually done by a certain Magician at the time of the passing of Atlas. In any case, I beg the reader to remember that I have only described one seventh of the virtues of Zro, and I have even omitted this, that in its ninth stage it is not only food and drink, but Universal Medicine, if properly understood. For Zro is also a vision and a voice!
Now the muscles of the people of Atlas are the muscles of giants, and yet they do one thing only. And this thing is combined by the wisdom of the Magicians, so that it is at the same time work, exercise, sport, game, pleasure, and all else that may fulfill life.
This work never ceases. It has these parts:
1. Working “at” Zro, “i.e.”, bringing it from the first stage to the ninth.
2. Working “with” Zro, “i.e.”, for one’s own particular purpose.
[#12] Only the smallest quantity is required, and it is unchanged, its function being purely catalytic. This form of phosphorus is one of the most stable elements. It combines (so far as is known) only with Zro. But if thrown out of such a combination, it becomes ordinary yellow phosphorus.
3. Working “for” Zro. This is the common and most honourable task, the Zro eaten and drunken being worked into a Quintessence of higher power, though identical in property with the common Zro. This new Zro (Atlas Zro) goes through the same stages as the common Zro of the serviles. But it is the result of free and joyful labour, and so serves the Magicians in their experiments, and the Governor of all for his sustenance. None by the way is ever wasted. For example, a tunnel was drilled completely through the Earth and filled with Zro, and it is said that by this tunnel the Atlanteans escaped.
This working, whether “with” or “for” Zro, requires two persons at least at any one time and place. Great heat is generated in the working, and the bodies of the workers are therefore sprinkled heavily with the black phosphorus, which is incombustible. This black phosphorus, poisonous to the servile race, becomes innocuous to anyone who has been in any way impregnated with Zro. This itself, in its first stage, is as dangerous as electricity of high voltage.
The reverence attached to Zro is unbounded. At one time it was hymned as the father of the gods, and till the end all children were thought to be “begotten of Zro,” though everyone might know who was the father. All such conception was however held indignity. Its official name was “the old experiment.” It was carried on simply because the new methods of continuing the race were not perfected. Childbirth was therefore in one way accident; although a duty, everyone shrank from it. For though no pain or discomfort attached to the process, it was a sort of second-best achievement from which proud women turned contemptuously. This was in part the reason why the father’s name was never mentioned.
On several occasions in the history of Atlas the Zro “failed.” Although not changed in appearance, its properties were lost or diminished. In such a case young men and maidens in great numbers were captured on the plains, brought into Atlas, and offered in sacrifice to the Gods. Their blood was mingled with Zro in its third stage, and the latter recovered its potency. Their flesh was eaten by the High Priests and Priestesses in penance for the unknown wrong. It was subject to other and terrible scourges, being the most sensitive as well as the strongest thing on Earth. On one occasion it had to be treated with a fox-like perfume prepared by the chief Magician; on another it was subjected to streams of moonlight from parabolic mirrors.
The most serious crisis was some two thousand years before the destruction of Atlas. One of the serviles, riding his “hippopotamus” to the ploughing, fell off and was instantly bitten by the poisonous fish previously described. Through an accident of boyhood he had, however, for a reason too obscure to describe here, no such vulnerable spot as suited the Zhee-Zhou. He survived and went to work, as it chanced, the next day. The Zro was poisoned; a third of Atlas died within the hour; the plants on the affected island had to be destroyed, and all its people. It was only repopulated some three hundred and eighty years later, and then for particular reasons of magical economy impossible to dwell upon in this account.
Marriage was compulsory on all those whose passion had been so exclusive and enduring as to produce two children. Further intercourse between the pair was barred. The Magicians thought it was inimical to variation for a woman to have more than one child (“a fortiori” two) by the same father; and the custom further prevented those stupid sporadic outbursts of burnt-out lust which make so many modern marriages intolerable.
Closely connected with marriage, the close of the reproductive life, is that of death, the close of the little that remains. Death hardly threatened the Atlantean; he would decide to “go and see,” as the old phrase ran, and take
[#13]In spite of the absolute promiscuity of the Atlanteans, this was never in doubt, owing to the special mark of each man, whose stigma or variation was infallibly transmitted.
[#14] This item is loosely used, as equivalent of “life.” The sacrifice is described later, and the point made clear.
an overdose of a particular preparation of black phosphorus mixed with a very little Zro in the ninth stage, which ensured a painless death. That none ever returned was taken as proof of the supreme attractiveness of death.
The ghoulish and necromantic practices with which Atlanteans have been unjustly reproached never occurred. A little vampirism, perhaps, in the early days before the perfecting of Zro; but no Atlantean was ever so stupid or so ignorant as to confuse death with life.
Beside this voluntary death only one danger existed. As the use of Zro guaranteed life and health and youth — a centenarian High Priest was no better than a kitten! — so did its abuse spell instant corruption of those qualities. As mentioned above, now and then the Zro itself was at fault, and caused epidemics; but from time to time there were deaths in a particularly loathsome form caused by what they called “misunderstanding” the Zro. Such mistakes were particularly common in the early days of its discovery, and before its use had become well nigh a worship. The first symptom was a crack in the skin of the temple, or sometimes of the bridge of the nose, more rarely of an eyelid or cheek. Within a few minutes this crack became one open sore, of horrid foetor, and within twenty-four hours, the patient was completely rotted away, bone and marrow. A circumstance of singular atrocity was that death never occurred until the spinal column collapsed. No treatment could be found even to prolong the agony by an hour. This being recognized, sufferers were thrown from the cliffs at the first sign of the malady. In this way too were all other corpses disposed. It was the most honourable death possible, for becoming “bread from heaven” for the serviles, they were again worked up into Zro itself, a transmutation which in their view would be well worth all the “resurrections of the body” and “immortalities of the soul” of the theoretical, dogmatic, hearsay religions. So much then concerning Zro, and the matters immediately connected with it.
[#15] No other disease was known after the bringing of the Zro to its ninth stage, all indisposition being instantly cured by a single dose.
OF THE SO CALLED MAGIC OF THE ATLANTEANS.
Magic in Atlas was a “Science of Sciences.” It was the final integration of all knowledge. In method its theory was differentiation, and in theory its method was integration. For example, the fifth of the great philosophers indicated “Everything is Zro” to the Keeper of the Speech at the annual sacrifice. This in spite of the fact that in that very year two new forms of Zro had been discovered by that same philosopher. It was the third of the galaxy who announced “the ultimate analysis of sensation is pain; that of thought, madness; that of super-consciousness (a state of trance induced by Zro and valued above all things) annihilation.”
His successor had retorted that in this was implicit a postulate that pain, madness and annihilation were undesirable. The third admitted that he had so meant his phrase, but destroying the postulate, still stuck to it. All this was the foundation of much magical theory, and on these purely psychological researches was based the whole magical practice. “There is no God” was a commonplace. It only implied that the mind was wrong to try to conceive within it what was by definition without it. To set limits to anything whatever seemed to them the greatest of crimes, the exact opposite of the true path to the Sun.
The practical side of Magic was for the most part a mere utilization of known forces, such as are employed by modern science. But the resources of Atlas were as great, and the advantages incomparably greater. The whole archipelago was a laboratory. There was no question of the “cost of research”; every man was devoted to it. Every man thought only of the main problem “How to reach Venus” and its sub-issues. Further, the main laws of Magic had always been found to govern and include chemical and physical laws.
In the early days of colonization Zro was only known in its crude state; it was the genius of a single man that obtained the third state in its purity. From this state to the seventh it moved almost of itself, very much as radium does. The genius, having sufficient in this seventh state, made a sword, and completed in three days the subjugation of the servile races. It was a stroke of fortune, this quickness, for on the fourth day the Zro began to disintegrate. The Magicians then began to seek a means of making this state permanent. But in this they failed, so that knives had always to be replaced twice weekly; but in the course of their failures they discovered the infinitely more valuable eighth and ninth stages of Zro. Tradition has preserved a hint of their efforts in Alchemy with its problems of the fixation of the Universal Mercury, the secret of perpetual motion, and “potable gold — the Universal Medicine.” It has been theoretically determined towards the end of the tenth state, that Zro should be a solid, but whether this was confirmed is beyond my knowledge.
To return to the main magical theory, the Quintessence, said they, or Universal Substance (which some strove to identify with Hyle, others with the Luminiferous AEther) is the two-in-one, liquid and solid, the former part being also twofold, fluid and gaseous, and the latter earthy and fiery. The combination of these four phases of Zro accounted for the universe. This
[#16] No known state of pure Zro is stable. From this it will be seen how entirely Atlas was in the hands of the servile races. Fortunately no trouble ever arose; the supply of labour was always ample.
quintessence is Zro in some state unknown and incalculable. Some expected to find it in its twelfth state, some in a seventeenth, others in a thirty-seventh: all this was pure guesswork. Some tradition to this effect appears to have reached Plato; and the neo-Platonists combined with those Jews who had preserved fragments of the Egyptian tradition to form a new initiated hierarchy, the echo of whose teaching is found in Paracelsus. At one period, too, missionaries (not colonists, as has been ignorantly asserted; there was no trouble of over-population in Atlantis) were sent to the four quarters and parties landed in Mexico, Ireland and Egypt. The adventures of the party who travelled South form an astounding chapter in the history of Atlas. It was they who discovered the Magnetic South, and whose observations rendered possible the theory which resulted in the piercing of the Earth by Zro.
There were also preparations of Zro which increased the size of the user, and others which diminished it. In general use among the lower classes, until the very end, was that composition which made the body light. Careful adjustment would equalize its weight with that of the displaced air, and movements of the limbs would then permit flying. In this way the overseers visited the plains and returned. The other and earlier art of flying needed no apparatus, but I am forbidden to disclose the method, except to hint that it is connected closely with the art of “dreaming true.”
These are but a few of the Magic powers so-called of the compounds of Zro; but they will indicate the power of Atlas by shewing what it could afford to neglect. Yet all these powers were implicit in the process of “working.”
The art of prediction was in the same unsatisfactory state as it is in England today. Nor was its practice encouraged. A Magician makes the future, and does not seek to divine it. All true prediction was therefore necessarily catastrophe. The greatest good fortune seemed worthless to an Atlantean, since it was accident, and if accidents are to happen, one of them may be fatal. They believed themselves to be equal to the whole tendency of things, and proudly gazed on Nature as a man might upon a virgin captive to his spear. Everything that was being was Zro; everything that was Energy was “working for Zro.” Outside this was but by-product and waste-heap.
The arrangement of the houses was in accordance with the magical theory. There was first the High House, then four (later six, last ten) “Houses of Houses”; and to each of these was attached a varying number of ordinary houses. The High House was the central shrine of the whole archipelago, and must be separately described.
[#17] There was also a settlement in Finland. Its only remains in historic periods is “Lapland Witches.”
OF THE HIGH HOUSE OF ATLAS, OF ITS INHABITANTS, AND OF THEIR MANNERS AND CUSTOMS, AND OF THE LIVING ATLA.
The High House was separated from its nearest neighbor by over twenty miles of sea. Its diameter was about an half-mile and its height four miles. It had no plains at the base, and its cliffs went absolutely sheer and smooth into the water. It was in shape a flattish cylinder, but the top broadened into a pointed knob, somewhat in the style of St. Basil’s at Moscow. There was not a trace of vegetation, which by the way was despised by the Atlanteans. A child would pick a flower contemptuously thinking “You cannot even move about,” or pet it as an English degenerate woman does a dog. The only entrance was by an orifice at the top. But the base was tunneled so that from every house was a channel for the Zro which having been brought to the highest perfection was thus transferred to headquarters. The receptacle at the base being far below the Earth, and the Zro further heated by friction, it seethed continually into a bluish or purplish smoke. This was the sole sustenance of the inhabitants of the High House. In early days the old High House, in an island since destroyed by order of the Atla, had been called the House of Blood, the inhabitants subsisting only on blood sucked from the living. The improvements in Zro had changed all that; but the idea was the same, to live on the Quintessence of Life. Hence while the “houses” ate and drank Zro, the High House drank its vapour. No children were born in it, and none below the rank of High Priest dwelt there.
Except for one matter which was never thought of, though constantly spoken, the inmost mystery of the High House was the “Living Atla.” This had many names, “Wordeater,” “Unshaven” (because the razors of Zro were turned on its hair), “Fireheart,” “Beginning and End” and so on: but especially a word I can only translate as “To Her,” a defective pronoun existing only in the dative. What the Living Atla really was, is a secret of secrets. We know it only from its epithets, its veils. Thus it was “That Black which makes black white.” It was “twenty-six feet high and fifteen feet across — Oh my Lords, it is the essence of the Incommensurable!” It was “the wife of Zro,” “the heart of Zro,” “desire of Zro,” “the Atla that eats Atlas,” “the swallower up of her own house,” “the pelican,” “the fire-nest of the Phoenix,” according to the greatest of the poets. And the burden of his hymns of worship was that it must be destroyed.
It was impossible to approach the Atla without being instantly sucked up and devoured by it. This was the greatest death, and ardently desired by all. The favour was accorded only to those who discovered improvements in Zro, or otherwise merited signal and supreme recognition from the state. Hidden men listened to the cries of the victim, and thus learned the nature of the death. It appears that the black suddenly broke into a fiery rose, “the only luminous thing in Atlas,” and a shooting forward enclosed him. For some reason which was never even guessed the Atla refused women. Those who had seen Atla were however
[#18] There are various theories; one a sort of avatar affair, another that the Atla is a quintessence of some kind; another calls “To Her” the “Angel of Venus, the force of our aspiration.”
[#19] A mere compliment.
useless to instruct. They came forth from the Presence smiling, and even under the most fearful tortures that the magicians could devise, continued to smile. This smile never left them during life, and the conscious superiority of it was so irritating, and so contrary to the harmony of life in Atlas that the women were killed, and their companions for the future forbidden to approach the Atla.
Whatever theories as to its nature may have been formed by the Magicians were upset by a famous experiment. A most holy High Priest, a man who at puberty had insisted on immediate marriage with all the women of his house, a Magician who had formed four new compounds of Zro, and discovered how to pass matter through matter, was honoured by the great death. On reaching the last corridor, where the concentrated spirals of Zro vapour whirled up into the Presence of Atla, he bade farewell to the appointed listeners in the manner suitable to his dignity, and then, taking a last deep draught of Zro into his lungs, rushed into the antrum. They heard him cry aloud “O!” with surprise, and then with inexpressible rapture the words “Behind Atla, Otla!” which were, and still are, completely unintelligible. Their surprise was greater, when, seven days later he came striding past them without greeting. He went to his “house” and shut himself up, was never seen or heard again, but was assuredly living at the time of the “catastrophe.” This man founded a school of philosophy, or rather, it founded itself on what it supposed him to have discovered; and this school disputes with the orthodox the credit of the final success.
The lesser mysteries of the High House were concerned almost entirely with the creation of life, and the bridging of the gulf between Earth and Venus. These were connected intimately; the theory was that if Atlantean brains could exist in bodies sufficiently subtle to traverse aether, the task was done. Some of the experiments were crude enough, and, to our minds, horrible. They attempted to breed a new race by crossing with snakes, swans, horses and other animals. The Greek legends of such monsters as Chimaera, Medusa, Lamia, Minotaur, the Centaurs, the Satyrs and the like are mere filtrations of the Atlantean tradition. The only theory behind such experiments was that they were contrary to the natural order, and so worth trying. Men of more scientific mind more plausibly passed Zro vapour through sea-water; but they only created serpents of vast size, which they cast into the sea about the High House as guardians. The sea-serpent, whether legend or fact, is derived from this experiment. It is quite possible that some such survive. Another school, objecting strongly to the sex-process, “which must be transcended as the Lemurians overcame gemmation” vivisected men and women, taking various parts of the brain, especially the cerebellum, the pineal gland, and the pituitary body, and cultivated them in solutions of Zro under the invisible rays of black phosphorus. The best results of this work was a race of translucent jelly-folk of great intellectual development; but so far from being able to travel through space, they could hardly move in their own element. Another school argued that as Zro in vapour combined the virtues of the liquid and the solid Zro, so a fiery state might be produced which would so impregnate their bodies as to make them “mates of the aether.” This school held that fiery Zro already existed in Nature, “in the heart of the Living Atla,” and asserted that those who died by absorption into Atla passed straight to Venus. Many of them therefore tried hard to obtain messages from that planet. Familiar with Newton’s first law of motion, they further held it possible to prepare Zro in such a state that a current of it could never be deflected or dissipated, and so, if it could be made in sufficient quantity, a bridge to Venus might be built by which they might travel. They therefore tunneled through the planet, as previously explained, to have a sort of cannon for the Zro. But as their supply was pitifully insufficient, they endeavoured also to prepare a Zro which would have
[#20] Especially monkeys. The results of this experiment were sent to colonize an island, but escaped, and after many journeys, reached Japan, where their descendants flourish still.
the power of multiplying itself. Alchemical tradition has some record of this problem.
Yet another group of Magicians argued that as Nature had cast off the planets from the Sun — a disputed point, some thinking this due to Magic, which if so completely destroys the argument — it would be contrary to Nature to cause the planets to fall back into it. They busied themselves with attempts to increase the Earth’s gravitational pull, and (alternatively) to check her course. Their schemes were generally regarded as Utopian — yet they could boast of the discovery of the Zro that lightened bodies, and of a kind of aether-screen which generated mechanical power in inexhaustible quantities by making matter slightly opaque to aether. This engine only worked on a very small scale. A screen two inches long would tear itself from fastenings that would have held an earthquake, while the rocks in its neighbourhood would melt in a few minutes, and the sea boil instantly where its rays struck. The most brilliant of this school asserted “Matter is a strain in the aether.” He explained gravitation in this way. Place two ivory spheres in a rubber tube; the strain on the tube is least when the balls touch. The tendency is therefore for them to come together. Friction alone checks them. Now aether is infinitely elastic and without friction. From these data he calculated the Law of Inverse Squares.
A more mystic school saw life everywhere. It knew all that we know, and more, about ions and electrons; it saw every phenomenon as a manifestation of will. The crowning glory of this school was the discovery that Zro in its ninth stage, eaten and drunken with concentrated intention, produced the desired result, whatever (within wide limits) that result might be. This went far to supersede the use of all specialized forms of Zro, and so to unify the magical practice.
It seems curious with all this Magic, Magic itself should be the thing most deplored. But it was the means, and, as such, “that which is in particular not the end.” The word for Magic, “Ijynx”, was the only dissyllable in the language, for Magic was the essentially two-fold thing, more two-fold (in a way) than the number two itself. It is interesting here to sketch briefly the mathematics of Atlas. The task is not easy, as their minds worked very differently from ours.
The number 1 was a fairly simple idea; but two was not only two, but also “the result of adding 1 to 1” and “the root of 4.” The numbers grew in complexity out of all reason. Seven was 6 plus 1, and 5 plus 2, and 4 plus 3, and so on; as well as “the root of 49,” “half 14” and the like. They even distinguished 4 plus 3 from 3 plus 4. Each number also represented an idea or group of ideas on all sorts of planes. It would have been quite possible to discuss dressmaking in terms of pure number. To give an example of the way in which their minds thought, consider the number three. Three, in so far as it gives the first plane figure, suggests superficies; with regard to the dimensions of space, solidity. Three itself is therefore “that ineffably holy thing in which the superficies is the solid.” Of course hundreds of other ideas must be added to this; and to grasp and harmonize them all in one colossal supra-rational idea was the constant task of every mathematician. The upshot of this was that all numbers above 33 were regarded as spurious, illusionary; they had no real existence of their own; they were temporary compounds, unreal in very much the same sense as our square root of 1. They were always expressed by graphic formulae, like our own organic compounds. To take an example, the number 156 was regarded as a sort of efflorescence of the number 7; it was never written but as
77 plus 7 plus 7 plus 77.
[#21] A partial exception existed for prime numbers, as being self-generated, and each of these which had been investigated had its special (and comparatively simple) signification.
Again 11 was usually written 3 plus 5 plus 3. It was always the aim to find symmetry in these expressions, and also “to find an easy way to 1.” This last is difficult to explain.
Eleven was their great “Key of Magic.” It is a twofold number in “the act of becoming 1.” Thirty-seven was the essence of 1 inasmuch as multiplying it by 3 gives 111, three ones, which divided again by 3 in another manner, yield 1. “One would rather think of 48 as 37 plus 11 than as 4 times 12” is the statement of an elementary text-book dating from the earliest days of Atlas. It was a sort of moral duty to teach the mind to think in this manner.
The number 7 was the “perfect number” with them as with us, but for very different reasons. It was the link between Earth and Venus, for one thing; I cannot explain why. It was “the number of Atla,” and the “house of success” (two being the “house of battle”). It was also grace, softness, ease, healing and “joy of Zro” as well as “play of phosphorus.” Many mathematicians, however, attacked it with rigour; there was at one time an almost general consent to replace it by 8, and its “rapture-combination” 31, by 33. Despite the intense preoccupation with such ideas, mathematics as we know them had reached a perfection which if it does not surpass that of our own civilization, fails principally because of its theorems, handed down to Euclid and Pythagoras, although imperfectly, formed a springboard whence we might leap.
The initiation of children was also a matter reserved for the High House. Weaned at three months, the children were tended by the lower classes until the age of puberty, an occurrence which fitted them at once for initiation. A legate from the High House was sent for, and in his presence the child was brought, acquainted with Zro by its father and mother, and full instruction in “working” was further conferred by any member of the “house” who chose to do so, this in practice meaning by everybody. The ceremonies were frequently long and exhausting; children often enough died in the course of them. This was not regarded as a serious calamity; some schools of Magicians even pretended to rejoice. The representatives of the High House had a prior right to the parents of the child; at times he conducted the initiation in person, a high honour, but invariably fatal. On rare occasions male children were sent over to the Atla to be devoured. The parents of so fortunate a child were advanced in rank on the spot, and had special privileges conferred on them, sometimes even being transferred to a “House of Houses.” All those who dwelt in the High House were veiled whenever they appeared, in order to prevent it being known that they were of the same appearance in all respects as their inferiors. This ordinance had been made after the Great Conspiracy, with which I shall deal in the chapter on History.
OF THE UNDERGROUND GARDENS OF ATLAS, AND OF THE ALLEGED COMMERCE OF THE ATLANTEANS WITH INCUBI, SUCCUBI, AND THE DEMONS OF DARKNESS.
I have referred to the contempt with which the Atlanteans were prone to regard the vegetable kingdom. Animals, including man, shared their scorn. The idea may have been that with their advantages they ought to have done much better for themselves. Minerals, however, were regarded as helpless; and hence the extraordinary attention paid to them. Beneath the “houses” the rock had been tunneled out into grottos, some in odd fantastic forms, but most in immense polyhedra or combinations of curves. Each “house” had some twenty of such gardens. Three reagents were used in the cultivation; the “seed of metals,” “the seed of Light,” and “the seed of,” an untranslatable idea approximating to our mystic’s interpretation of “Alpha and Omega.” The two former produced simple effects, the first formed jewels, self-luminious, which yet grew like flowers, the second similar effects with metals; while the third brought any mineral to flower in the most extravagant combinations of colour and form. All such conditions as texture, hardness, elasticity, and physical attributes in general, were considered worthy of the profoundest attention.
As an instance of these, I may describe particular gardens. One would have a roof of softly-glowing sapphires, foxglove, bluebell or gentian, and between these champak stars of ruby. The walls would be covered with tendrils of vine within whose depths lurked tiny blossoms of amethyst. The floor would be of malachite, but alive, growing as a coral does, softer than any earthly moss and more elastic to the tread. On every darker leaf might glow dew-drops of self-strung diamond formed from the carbon dioxide of the air by the action of the “seed of Light.” Another grotto would be a monochrome of blue, various copper salts being “planted” everywhere, and growing in incrustations and festoons of every shade of blue from the faintest tinge of coerulean azure and green and grey, in whose abyss would be seen shapes of anemonies, perhaps of such hues as iron oxide, silver chromate, and cupramonium cyanurate. All this floor would in all respects resemble water but for its greater solidity, and floating on it would be giant lilies, great green leaves of emerald with cups of pearl not less than twelve feet in diameter, with corollae of pure gold, so fine that they glimmered green, with pistils of platinum on whose tops trembled great pigeon-blooded rubies. Another might be wholly of metal, a mere bower of jasmine, with its floor of violets. The law of growth of these creatures of wisdom was not that of plants or animals, or even of crystals; it was that of the Earth. Constantly growing as the planet approached the Sun, they as steadily shrank as she departed to aphelion. This was not growth and decay, but the rise and fall of an eternal bosom. It is probable, too, that this is one of the reasons why Atlas neglected the higher kingdoms; they had learned to grow, but on wrong lines, and it was too late to endeavour to correct the error.
These gardens were the principal places of working. It was hardly possible to pass from one place to another without coming upon one of them, so cunningly were they distributed; and in every garden would be found, joyful and noble, parties of workers intent on their beloved task. The passer-by would gladly join one of such parties, engage in the work for so long as he wished, and then proceed upon his private business. In these same gardens too, were salvers and goblets always filled with Zro, and after toil, refreshment fitted the workers to return to labour.
Now of these workings in the gardens strange tales are told. It is said that the inhabitants falling to repose were visited in sleep by “incubi” and “succubi” (whatever the nature of these may be, and I by no means concur in the opinion of Sinistrari), and that they welcomed such with eagerness. Nay, darker legends tell of infamous commerce and intercourse with demons foul and malicious, and pretend that the power of Atlas was devilish, and that the catastrophe was the judgement of God. These mediaeval fables of the debased and perverted phallicism miscalled Christianity are unworthy even to be refuted, founded as they are on hypotheses contrary to common sense. Nor would they who knew themselves masters of the Earth have deigned to degrade themselves, and moreover to vitiate their whole work by commerce with inferiors. If there be any truth whatever in these stories, it will then be more easily supposable that the Atlanteans aspiring to journey sunwards to Venus, might invoke the beings of that planet, should it be possible for them to travel to us. And that this is impossible, who can assert? On the theory of the Magicians, power increases as the Sun is approached, the inhabitants of Earth being more highly infused with the magical force of Our Star than those of Mars, and they again more than those of great Jupiter, gloomy and disastrous Saturn and Uranus, or Neptune lost in star-dreams. Again, the powers of each particular planet may, nay, must be wholly diverse. So fundamental a condition of existence as the value of “g” being vastly various, must not the inhabitants differ equally in body and in mind? What lives on the minute and airless Moon can be no inhabitant of what may hide beneath the flaming envelope of the Sun, with its fountains of hydrogen flaming an hundred thousand miles into the aether. And surely so wild an ambition as that of Atlas would not have been held by beings so wise and powerful for so many centuries had they not either a sure memory of coming from Mars, or some earnest of their eventual departure to Venus. Man does not persist in the chimerical for more than a few generations. Alchemy achieved results so startling and so beneficial to humanity at large — one need only mention the discovery of zinc, antimony, hydrogen, opium, gas itself — that the original ideals were changed for others more limited and more practical — or at least more immediately realisable.
Nor is this view unsupported by testimony of a sort. “Great and glorious, rays of our father the Sun,” says one of the poets of Atlas, “are they within us. Let us call them forth by utterance that is not uttered, by the gesture that is not made, by the working that is above all working, for they are great and glorious, rays of our father the Sun. Then from our bride that waits for us in the nuptial chamber, green in the green West, blue in the blue East, exalted above our father in the even and in the morn, spring forth our heirs and our hosts, to greet us in the darkness. Dim-glimmering are our gardens in the light of the seed of light; they are peopled with shadows; they take form; they are as serpents, they are as trees, they are as the holy “Zcrra”, they are as all things straight or curved, they are winged, they are wonderful. With us do they work, and that which was but one is seven, and that which was two is become eleven! With us do they work, and give us of the draught miraculous; us do they instruct in Magic, and feed us the delicate food. Let us call forth them that are within us, that they that are without may enter in, as it was made manifest by Him that maketh secret.” This passage, not devoid of a rude eloquence, makes clear what was held in exoteric circles. For in Atlas the poet was not as in England a holy and exalted being, one set apart for his high calling, throned in the hearts of the people, cherished by kings and nobles, one on whom no wealth and honour are too great to shower, but one of the people themselves, of no greater consequence than any other. Every man was an artist in so far as he was a man; and every man being equally so in nature, whether so in achievement or not mattered nothing, as appreciation was of no moment. Accomplishing Art for the sake of Art, the interest of the creator in his work died with its creation. It may therefore be possible that these words are those of poetic exaggeration, or that there is a concealed meaning in them, or that they are intended to mask and mislead, or that the poet was not himself fully instructed. Indeed it is certain that only the High House had the secrets of Atlas, and that the Magicians of the House held the undeniable if sometimes dangerous doctrine that the truth and falsehood of any statement alternated as do day and night according to the status of the hearer of the statement. However, so strong is the tradition concerning the “Angel of Venus” that it must at least be considered carefully. The theory appears to have been that if the Magicians of Venus invited the Atlanteans, means would assuredly follow, just as if a King summons a paralysed man to his presence, he will also send officers to convey him. Now whether the “Angel of Venus” is really an angel in anything like the modern sense of the word, or merely a title of one of the principal Magicians of the planet, it is evident that the High House ardently desired his presence. That this might be manifested by the birth of a child “without the stain of Atla” was clearly an ultimate desideratum, an outward and visible sign of redemption, an obvious guarantee of the reality of the occurrence. It was then a Virgin High Priestess who achieved so notable a renown; whether or not this is a mere poetic parable of the abiogenesis — if it is indeed fair so to describe it — of the eleventh stage of Zro is another and an open question. In any case, such is the tradition, and numerous parodies of it are still extant in the stories of the births of Romulus and Remus, Bacchus, Buddha and many other legendary heroes of modern times; we even catch an echo in the myths of such barbarian lands as Syria.
So much and no more concerning the Underground Gardens of Atlas, and of their commerce with the inhabitants of Venus.
OF MARRIAGE AND OTHER CURIOUS CUSTOMS OF THE ATLANTEANS: AND OF SACRIFICES TO THE GODS.
I have already adverted to that most singular conception of the duty of the married which opposes the customs of Atlas to those of any other race on Earth. But the considerations which established it have yet to be discussed. I will not insist on that gross and cynical point of view which might perceive in English marriage today a practical vindication of the Atlantean position. On the contrary, in Atlas marriage formed the loftiest of ideals. It resembles the “Hermetic marriage” of certain alchemists. The bond between the parties was only stronger for the absence of the lower link. The idea underlying this was in the main a particular case of the general proposition that whatever was natural should be transcended. As will be seen in the final chapter, the very stigma of success in their Great Work was the transcending of the sexual process. The bond of marriage was not, however, entirely of this negative character. It had its positive side, and here closely resembled the so-called Christian doctrine of Christ and the church. Husband and wife were to be father and daughter, mother and son, brother and sister, teacher and pupil, and above all, friends. And this relation was to subsist on all planes. The hieroglyph of love was a cross; that of marriage, parallel straight lines, and as the cross was to be transcended in the circle, so were these lines to converge not on Earth, but in Venus. In the meanwhile each partner led his own free life; and it often occurred that a woman, having borne two children to a man and married him, would bear two children to another man, and so on perhaps for two centuries, thus acquiring a cohort of husbands. Such an arrangement must clearly have lead to grave confusion had any question of property and inheritance been involved, but notions so unfortunate were unknown. Where all had every heart’s desire, of what value were they? It is true that some division of labour (though little) was involved in the social scheme, but it occurred to no one to regard the supervision of serviles as less honourable than the offering of great sacrifices. In a perfect organism one part is as necessary and decent as any other part, and no sane observer can reason otherwise. For a perfect organism has a single definite aim, and the only dishonourable feather on an arrow would be one that was out of place. Human nature being what it is, one may nevertheless agree that this measureless content with the existing order, except in so far as the purpose of the establishment of that order was unfulfilled, was rendered possible by the extreme lightness of the toil demanded of any individual. But it is impossible for slaves to understand free men. It is always a wonder to Englishmen that a man should devote himself to unremitting toil for an idea. He is called a crank, basely slandered, the lowest motives being without any reason assigned to his actions, mocked, persecuted, perhaps crucified. This is partly forgivable, as in England philanthropy is almost invariably the mask of vice and fraud.
The ceremony of marriage was simple, dignified, yet poignant. The lovers in the presence of their whole house, publicly embraced for the last time. Their two children pressed them apart. Elevating their hands in a crossed clasp they gave way, and the children passed through, preceding a most holy image which was borne by a Priest and Priestess between them. Then they parted, and each was severally congratulated and embraced by any of the others who chose, and the Priest and Priestess then, exalting the image and setting it in a suitable shrine, closed the ceremony by the command “To work” and adding force to the same by their example.
The education of the children was another important matter in which their ideas were wholly opposed to our own. It ceased altogether at the age of puberty, which sometimes as early as six, never later than fourteen. Were it so delayed, the delinquent was crowned in mockery with a square black cap, sometimes tasselated, and sent among the serviles to instruct them in religion and similar branches of learning, and never permitted to return to Atlas. The ignorance and superstition of the plains was thus kept at a proper height.
The method of education was indeed singular. Certain Atlanteans who made it their study would place the various articles in the hands of the infants, and observe what use they made of them. In the course of a few months the experts had accurately mapped the psychology of the child, and it was led in accordance therewith. The marriage customs of Atlas allowed no too rapid growth in numbers, and it was therefore easy to give each child attention. The method of opposition was again employed in education, the child’s natural wish being constantly stimulated by a parallel training in the contrary subject. Children were also shewn a series of ordered facts, and an explanation given. But not the least pains was taken to ascertain whether the child had retained those instructions; they were left as impressions on the mind. The brain was not injured by the strain of being constantly forced to bring up its stores from the subconscious. It was found in practice that every child learnt everything that it was shown, and that this learning was always ready for use, while the consciousness was never wearied or overcrowded. It was also found that those whose memories were what we call good were precisely those who failed to develop in other ways more useful to society.
The most peculiar of their methods was the search for genius. It was the business of the experts to pay the most serious and reverent attention to all that a child did, and whenever they failed to understand the workings of its mind, to place it under the charge of a special guardian, who did his utmost to comprehend sufficiently to be able to encourage it to become yet more unintelligible.
“Apud eos membrum virile membrano lucido erat; ob quod qualis circumscisio die nativitatis facta erat. Vix credere dignum est, tanquam verum, feminarum montes venereales similutidine facies fuere, facies demonicae, sardonicae, Satyricae, cujus os erat os vulvae, res horribiles atque ridiculosa. Ferunt similia de virorum membris, quae fingunt sicut imagines homunculorum fuere. Lege — Judice — Tace.”
Many of the men had ossified extensions of the frontal process which amounted to horns, and the formation was occasionally found in the higher types of women. Curiously carven head-dresses of gold were worn by both sexes, and those of priestly rank adorned these with living serpents, and the High Priests yet further with feathers or with wings, such being not the spoils of dead birds, but the blossoms of the live gold of the crowns. Some tradition of this custom is found in the pictures of the “Gods” of Egypt, these gods being merely the Atlanteans whose mission civilized the country. The names of some of the
[#22] There was also the marriage of those of the Magicians who refused all intercourse with the opposite sex, and were therefore married to the whole sex as such. Here was no ceremony used; but each had a special mark signifying that he or she was thus consecrated.
earlier gods confirm this. “Nu” (Hebrew “Noah”) is Atlantean for arch, “Zu” (Egyptian “Shu”) for many ideas connecting with wind, “Asi” means “cum quasi serpens,” obviously the name of an actual High Priestess. “Ra” is pure Atlantean for Sun, and “’Mse” (Egyptian Chomse) for moon. The idea in “’Mse” is that of a strong woman (“’M”) closing the mouth of a Serpent (“S”) or dragon, and from this we have the XIth card of the Bohemian Tarot, and the legend in the “Apocalypse.” In the mystic Greek used by the Gnostics we find similar traces, “Sofia” being for “S Ph,” giving the idea of “serpent breath” “i.e.” wisdom. “IAO” is “PHALLOS,” “KTEIS,” “PROKTOS”. The word “LOGOS” means Boy (“G”) naturally engendered of the Virgin (“L”) and the Serpent (“S”). “THEOS” (root “O,” first written “0”) means the Sun in his strength and also the Lingam-Yoni conjoined. “CHRISTOS” is “The love of passion of the Rising Sun (“R”) and the Serpent” (“S”). The “I” and “T” indicate certain details which are foreign to the present discussion. “NEUMA” (Atlantean “NM”) is the “Arch of the Woman,” “MARIA,” the Woman of the Sun. The words “MEITHRAS” and “ABRAXAS” are again derived from Atlas. “The woman entered, Lingam being conjoined with Yoni, bears the Sun from her serpent womb” and “From the womb’s mouth the Sun (cometh seeking) a womb for his desire, even the womb of a serpent,” the course of the year being signified in this manner, as usualy with the ancients. This plain of an idea corresponding to each letter was carried out very strictly: thus “TLA,” black, means the stigma or mark of the virgin’s womb, “IA” (Hail! Greeting!) “Face to Face,” from the other peculiarity described above. These few examples will suffice to indicate the singular character of the language, and the way in which its essential dogmatic symbols have been incorporated by the heirs of Atlas in the inmost sanctuaries of races which they deemed worthy of such assistance.
I must not pass over in silence the question of sacrifice to the gods, to which a passing reference has already been made. Such sacrifices were not very frequent; the victims were the “failures,” those who were useless to the social economy. As they represented capital expenditure, the object was to recover this, at least, since no interest could be expected. The victim was therefore handed over to a High Priest or Priestess, who extracted the life by an instrument devised for and excellently adapted to the purpose, so that it died of exhaustion. The life thus regained was given to “the gods” in a manner too complex to be described in this brief account.
The early age at which puberty occurred was due to design. The normal period of gestation had also been shortened to four months. This was all part of the scheme to economize time. Old age had been almost done away with by the great readiness of the Atlanteans to “go and see” at the first sign of failing power. No doubt, further improvements would have been made but for the loss of interest in the matter, all generation being regarded as “the old experiment,” not likely to repay the trouble of further research. In the 200 or 300 years of a man’s full vigour, only 8 years on the average was the wastage of childhood, and even this was not all waste, since some time at least must be necessary for the experts to discover and direct the tendencies of the mind. The body ought therefore to be regarded as an engine, the theoretical limit of whose efficiency had been reached.
So much I mention of the customs of the Atlanteans with regard to marriage, education and religious sacrifices.
[#23] MAR is Atlantean (also Sanscrit) for die. This word throws light on their conception of death.
[#24] Note that no tautologies defile its linguistic wells. “As I have written” is never changed to “as I have observed, noted, described, said, indicated, remarked, pointed out” and so on.
[#25] I must revert for a moment to the language. OIK, Greek “OIKOS” meant the “House of the penetrating men.” NOM, Greek “NOMOS”, the “arch of the House of the Women,” “i.e.” that which roofed them in or protected them. Hence “the law.”
OF THE HISTORY OF ATLAS, FROM ITS EARLIEST ORIGINS TO THE PERIOD IMMEDIATELY PRECEDING THE CATASTROPHE.
The origin of Atlas is lost in the obscurity of antiquity. The official religious explanation is this: “We came across the waters on the living Atla,” which is pious but improbable. A mystic meaning is to be suspected. The lay historian says “We came, escaping from destruction, eight persons in a ship, bearing the living Zro.” This reminds me one of later legends of presumably equal value. Poets frankly claim “We descended from heaven,” and it has been seriously urged that seafarers would have preferred the plains to the rocks. The law of contrariety to Nature explains this away. Others maintain that the earliest settlers came “by air,” or “through air.” This must mean balloons or airplanes, as flying was not known until centuries after. What is definitely known is that the earliest settlers were of a purely fighting race.
An Atlantean Homer, Ylo, has described the first battle in such detail as to leave no doubt that he is retelling facts — a marked contradiction to his earlier books. There appear to have been but few Atlanteans, unless the names given are those of chiefs, which internal evidence contraverts. The natives were armed with every possible instrument of precision, having cavalry and artillery in abundance, as well as weapons that must have been as superior to the modern rifle (unless Ylo exaggerates) as that is to the arquebus. In spite of this the men of Atlas “smote them with rods” or “fell upon them with their cones,” and routed them utterly. This mention of rods and cones has absurdly suggested to commentators that the Atlanteans used their eyes, and hypnotized the enemy. To state such an opinion is sufficient to expose its author to the contempt of the thoughtful. Altogether 86 battles were fought, extending over five years, before the natives were reduced to sue for peace. This was granted on generous terms, which the colonists broke, as soon as they dared to do so, in accordance with the invariable rule of colonists, then as much as today. However, it was nigh on an hundred years before the first college of Magic was established. Previously the Atla had been carried about as occasion demanded. It was now enshrined with some decency of ceremonial upon a mountain. About three hundred years later we find ourselves face to face with the first great Mystery of Atlas. This is a translation of the record of that most strange event.
“Now it came to pass that all men turned black and died, and that the living Atla abode alone, bearing Mercury, whereof the Sun knoweth. Thus came again the true men of Atlas, and their women, bearing gods and goddesses. And the void suffered nothing, and the earth was at peace. Now then indeed arose Art, and men builded, being blind. And there was light, and some of the light wrought mischief. Wherefore the wise men destroyed them with their Magic, and there is no record because it is written in that which is.” A sort of “Si” “monumentum quaeris, circumspice” seems here implied. In any case there were clearly two gaps unbridgeable between the early struggles of the settlers, the period of great buildings, and the modern period, which proved stable of “houses.” The “houses” were only made possible by the perfecting of Zro, and this helps considerably to fix the date. The next 2500 years were years of peaceable progress; the labour-mills were run without a hitch, and the next event was the discovery of black phophorus. It had been the custom to worship the Atla with lights, and these lights had been candles of yellow phosphorus in golden sheathes. At that time the Atla was veiled. At one festival of Spring the veils were burnt up, the lights extinguished, and the yellow phosphorus was found to have been turned into the black powder. The Magicians examined this, and brought Zro to its ninth stage. This revolutionized the condition of things: old age and disease were no more, and death voluntary. Strangely enough this led directly to the Great Conspiracy.
At the end of this period of 2500 years the system of “houses” was well established. There were over 400 such “houses,” each of perhaps 1000 souls on an average. These were governed by 4 “houses of houses” whose rulers took orders from the High House, at the head of which was the living Atla. The plain principle of Atla was revolution; and like all revolutionary bodies, was obliged to adopt the strictest form of autocracy. A democracy is always soddenly conservative. The only hope is to catch it in one of its moments of crazy enthusiasm, and crush it before it has time to recover. Caesar and Napoleon both did this as far as they could: Cromwell and Porfirio Diaz did the same within narrower limits.
Now a certain sophist — for philosopher one cannot call him — tried to enunciate a magical law to the effect that the present standard of life was all that could be desired; that further progress would be harmful, that Venus was not worth attaining, and that the sole endeavour of the Magicians should be to preserve things as they were. That such a proposition could be supposed a “law” reflects no credit on its author or its supporters. Yet of these it found many. The ninth stage of Zro was a leap calculated to unsettle the calmest mind. Its reality had beggared the optimist’s daydream. Poets had thrown down their stilettos. High Priests who had spent decades in hopeful experiment saw their results attained by an entirely different method. In short, two thirds of the people were infected with the heresy, and hoped to hear it promulgated as a Law of Magic.
It should here be explained that every Law of Magic had its turn as the principal law of practical working, and the school supporting any law, or insisting on it, became prominent with it. Every dominant law in all history had always been made insignificant by a new discovery about Zro, or other matter of practical importance, just as the “Peace with Honour” battle-cry of Disraeli was drowned by the calculation of the cost of warships, soldiers and patriotism. Each step in Zro had consequently implied the rise to power of a new school; and the sophist was ambitious, and yet the law he wished to establish was the ruling law of the servile races.
The “law” was accordingly sent to the High House for approval. Some opposition may have been forseen, but no one was prepared for the blackness of disapproval which actually radiated, striking hearts cold. A course without precedent, no answer was vouchsafed. On the contrary, even normal communication was suspended. The houses which favoured the innovation — 333 in numbers — took counsel, came to the decision that it was useless to oppose the High House, and were about to acquiesce, when a woman who had once been in the presence of “To Her” rose and thought vehemently “The Living Atla is the head of our conspiracy.” In other words, they were the loyalists, the Magicians of the High House the rebels. This was why they had cut themselves off, because their own head was against them. It was instantly resolved to go to the High House, and demand the custody of “To Her.” Nearing the goal, however, a remnant of the ancient reverence half cowed even the ringleaders — I may mention that five of every six of the heretics were women — when they saw a stern phalanx of Magicians, its point threatening their centre. As they wavered, a woman cried “They are only men such as we are.” The ranks stiffened; on all sides the army closed upon the tiny phalanx, which only numbered 66 all told. It was then that the truth was known. Ere a blow could be struck, the attacking party vanished;
[#26] Needle-sharp daggers of Zro in its seventh stage were used to write on the rock walls of Atlas.
it was instantaneous and complete annihilation. From that moment it was certain that the ruling power in Atlas was Something infinitely more awful than the Living Atla. In order to avoid any possible repetition of such a disaster — for the Magicians of the High House knew that any manifestation of the Supreme must undo the work of centuries — they gave out that they had become too terrible to look upon, and for the future they always appeared with heavy veils, or rather masks, since for the most part they were carven fantastically by the wearers in their leisure hours. A further alteration was made in the system of government. The head of one of the “houses of houses” was made supreme: the High House took no part in affairs of state. Thus the Atla was to all intents and purposes deposed, although the same reverence and sacrifice were paid to it as formerly. It became a “constitutional monarch,” in our modern jargon.
The next thousand years were years of serious trial in other ways. The toil of repopulation was excessive, and there was a revolt or rather strike of the servile races, which was ended by the substitution of “bread from heaven” for those products of the earth on which they had formerly been fed, a diet which proved so adapted to their natures that no labour troubles ever recurred.
The Greek legends of the wars between Gods, giants, Titans are traditional of a real war or series of wars which continued with intervals over 200 years. The enemy had developed naval armament to an extreme. Their tactics were these:
1. To wipe out the servile races and so to interfere with the production of Zro.
2. To rush and destroy the High House.
The first of these met with a great deal of success, the floating rock being struck with projectiles and sunk. This occurred chiefly on the outlaying islands, where they were not too much afraid to make raids in force. They also sent epidemic disease of many kinds. Atlas was reduced to such extremity in these ways that at one time the waterways were forced and the assault on the High House was actually carried out, bombardment continuing day and night for months together. Through a misunderstanding of well known magical law, Atlanteans at that time considered themselves prohibited from employing any other defence than the rods and the cones of their forefathers; and these, it appears, were useless against machinery, or against men protected by fortification in such a way that they could not be got at from any quarter. Thus the sharklike submarines of the enemy were unassailable. The war was therefore at first entirely one-sided. A certain youthful Magician, however, resolving to die for his country if need were, decided to retaliate. He had found that Zro in its nascent state (“i.e.” between the globes) had the power of bringing about endothermic reaction, seawater for example, becoming caustic soda and hydrochloric acid; and further that this acid thus produced was many thousand times more active than in its normal state. For example, the rock basins in which he conducted his first experiment dissolved as rapidly as butter under boiling oil. He then prepared a number of pairs of receiver-globes, and dropped them in the vicinity of the enemy’s submarines by night. In this manner he destroyed the hulls of almost the whole fleet in a single night; and the remainder fled in panic at dawn. They returned the following year, carrying out daylight raids only and devoting themselves chiefly to destroying the labour-mills. The young magician had been rewarded for his services by being presented to the Atla, and this example encouraged others to find means of attacking the invaders. Artificial darkness was therefore invented, and combined with the former method; but this was only partially successful, the tremendous pace of the “sharks” enabling them to evade any threatening clouds. They did enormous
[#27] This matter is not for open discussion. Even at this distant date it would be dangerous to do so much even as indulge in speculation.
damage, and the supplies of Zro were seriously curtailed. Things now went from bad to worse, and culminated in the attack on the High House, the besiergers keeping their battleships surrounded by rafts of fire, so that attack was impossible even by night. It was then that the High House called on the heorism of its sons. Armed with long swords of Zro, they plunged into the sea, to perish under the tooth of the “Zhee-Zhou,” but not before they had time to hack the invading battleships to shreds. Their floating torch-rafts only assisted the attack by directing the swimmers to their quarry. The attack on the High House had aroused Atlas at last. A counter invasion was plotted and carried out with immediate and complete success, the enemy being exterminated, and their country not merely ravaged but destroyed by arousing the forces of earthquake. All activity of this kind however was deprecable, a recurrence was guarded against by removing the High House to the lofty mountain previously described, and a “house” was chosen to cultivate the art of war, and entrusted with the duty of destroying any living thing that might approach within a hundred miles of Atlas.
Only one other adventure of historical importance remains to be recorded. It is the attempt of some foolish Atlanteans to found an “Empire,” and so to be entirely distinguished from the missionary effort referred to previously. The original settlement of Atlas, as has been the case with all flourishing colonies, was made by a few hardy pioneers, who strengthened themselves gradually by growth. But Atlas in her momentary madness poured out blood and treasure in the fatuous attempt to impose alien domination on lands utterly unsuited to the genius of the people. The idea, of course, was to increase the supply of labour and consequently of crude Zro. In the first place the adventure was expensive. It was uneconomical (in the scientific sense) to send ships with less than 1000 fighting men. The Zro required for these meant the employment of at least 7000 serviles, and the naval construction was therefore of a colossal order. But although little difficulty was found in conquering the country in the military sense, the natives had to be almost exterminated, and the labour of the survivors proved difficult to enforce. It was even then not a tenth as efficient as that of the serviles at home. The imported serviles moreover caught native diseases, and died in hundreds; and though by prodigious sacrifices the West African Empire was kept going for nearly 200 years, it had to end at last no less ingloriously than the French adventure in Mexico, or the English in India, and South Africa.
The main causes were the impossibility of breeding children in a climate so unsuitable, even of maintaining their own women, and above all the fact that the crude Zro was not of a quality equal to that obtained in Atlas, and that the Zro generated by the Atlanteans themselves was not to be made at all outside their own country. The lesson was learnt. Until the end no further attempt was made to advance in any but the true direction. The great majority of the colonists returned to Atlas; but many, degenerating as is the fashion with colonists of this conquering kind, abandoned Zro for gross food, intermarried with the natives, and have generally degenerated yet further to races inferior even to the present descendants of those who were in those days the equivalents of the serviles of Atlas.
[#28] I write a little, but not much, in advance of the events. To illustrate the theory here advanced I will ask the reader to compare the results of the attempts to colonize America by (a) the whole military power of Spain at her zenith, (b) the handful of exiles in the “Mayflower.”
OF THE CATASTROPHE, ITS ANTECEDENTS AND PRESUMED CAUSES.
In my remarks on Zro I have a necessarily somewhat diffuse account of the properties of this remarkable substance. It must now be made clearer that the crude Zro in its nine stages produced by the serviles, and consumed in the “houses” was in each stage of inferior quality to that of the same degree produced by the Atlanteans, and consumed by the High House. For example, the crude Zro was made in a labour-mill with all sorts of insulations. The first stage of the priest’s Zro could be made anywhere and at any time, and naturally directed itself to the receptable for it without any precautions. It must, I think, be presumed that the Zro generated in the High House was again of far greater purity and potency. Very little of it can have been used in the experiments of the Magicians, and it is therefore necessary to account for enormous quantities, produced during many centuries of uninterrupted labour. I have, however, no data of any kind for this investigation; the mysteries of the High House have ever been inscrutable, and were not wholly delivered to the Heirs of Atlas. They must be rediscovered by the Magicians of the new race. It may be that in some form or other the Zro had been made stable, and used to impregnate the column which is alleged to have been driven “through the Earth”; perhaps, and less improbably, only to the depth of a few hundred miles. This column, however long it may have been, had certainly its top immediately beneath the reservoir of the High House. It had been completed about 70 years before the “catastrophe” but apparently no effort was made to utilize it in any way. To me it appears probable that in some one mind the whole “catastrophe” was brooding, that the column was part of the device, and that the event which I shall now describe was the other part.
This event was the birth of a child in the High House, a child without the distinguishing mark of the daughters of Atlas. That any child at all should have been born there is so incredible that I am inclined to suspect an improper use of the word “born.” I think rather that a Magician brought Zro to its eleventh stage, when it takes human form, and lives! The alternative theory is that of the “Angel of Venus” described in the chapter on the Underground Gardens of Atlas. The supporters of this theory hold that the child was not born of a Priestess, but of the Living Atla.
In any case, the whole country gave itself up to unbridled rejoicing. Work was carried on at a greater speed than ever before: one might say a delirium of labour. For eleven years this continued without cessation, and then without warning came the order to repair to the High House — every man, woman and child of Atlas. What was then done, I know not, and dare not guess; that same day seven volunteers, heroic exiles from the reward of so many centuries of toil, voluntary maroons on the discarded planet, the Heirs of Atlas, turned their faces from the High House, and severally sought distant mountains, there each to guard his share of the Secrets of the Holy Race, and in due time to discover and train up fit children of other races of the Earth so that one day another people might be founded to undertake another such task as that now ended.
Hardly had the pinnacle of Atlas melted into the sea behind them, than the “catastrophe” occurred. The High House and the column beneath it, with all the inhabitants of Atlas, shot from the Earth with the vehemence of a million lightnings, bound for that green blaze of glory that scintillated in the West above the sunset.
Instantly the Earth, its god departed, gave itself up to anguish. The sea rushed unto the void of the column and in a thousand earthquakes Atlas, “houses” and plains together were overwhelmed forever in the ocean. Tidal waves rolled round the world; everywhere great floods carried away villages and towns; earthquakes rocked and tempest roared; tumult was triumphant. For years after the catastrophe the dying tremors of the Event still shook mankind with fear. And the eternal waves of the great mother rolled over Atlas, save where Earth in her agony thrust up gaunt pinnacles, bare masts of wreckage to mark the vanished continent. Save for its heirs, of whose successors it is my highest honour to be the youngest and the least worthy, oblivion fell, like one last night in which the Sun should be forever extinct, upon the land of Atlas and its people.
Shall such high purpose fail of emulation, such achievement and example not excite us to like striving? Then let Earth fall indeed from her high place in heaven, and mankind be outcast forever from the Sun! Men of Earth! Seek out the heirs of Atlas; let them order you into a phalanx, let them build you into a pyramid; that may pierce that appointed which awaits you, to establish a new dynasty of Atlanteans to be the mainstay and mainspring of the Earth, the pioneers of their own path to heaven, and to our lord and Father, the Sun! And he put his hand upon his thigh, and swore it.
By the ineffable “ ,” “Tla,” and the holy Zro, did he swear it, and entered into the body of the new Atla that is alive upon the Earth.
[#29] The Legend of the Deluge is derived from this event.
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