On Edward Bulwer-Lytton: Agharta, Shambhala, Vril and the Occult Roots of Nazi Power
© 2004 Joseph George Caldwell. All rights reserved. Posted at Internet web sites http://www.foundation.bw and http://www.foundationwebsite.org . May be copied or reposted for non-commercial use, with attribution. (31 December 2004)
Some time ago I began reading the novel, Zanoni, by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. Near the very beginning of the novel, I read the following passage: “Plato here expresses four kinds of mania, by which I desire to understand enthusiasm and the inspiration of the gods: Firstly, the musical, secondly, the telestic or mystic; thirdly, the prophetic; and fourthly, that which belongs to love.” Well, I did not recall anything about “Plato’s four manias,” and so I did a quick search of the Internet, and came up with the following paragraph, from the article, “Atumpan Drummers and Marsyas’ Flute: Exploring Parallels Between African and Greek Conceptions of State” (1995):
“In the Phaedrus we read the following ironic words from the Western world’s first great rational philosopher: "Our greatest blessings come to us by way of madness [mania] which indeed is a divine gift" (Phaedrus, 244a). It is here that we also learn of four kinds of mania for which the telestic variety denotes ritualistic madness (attributable to Dionysus). The remaining three kinds of mania include the poetic, the erotic and the prophetic (mantic). Later, in the Laws, we learn that the telestic rites that Plato had in mind were characterized by rites of initiation, sacrifices, dance and music (Laws, 791a). While it is difficult at times to discern Plato’s true opinion on specific matters, even from the most scholarly reading of his dialogues, the fact that Plato perceived of a general and useful social end through mania, poetry and music should become clear from the Phaedrus and other dialogues that support this contention. It is clear from a continued reading of the Phaedrus (244d-e) that the telestic kind of mania, which we shall take to be essentially a form of trance-possession, consists of both good and bad kinds. The crisis kind of mania is associated with human disease, attributed to a "weakness of the soul," for which Plato saw the need to purge from his state by various means. By Plato’s account, the diseased individual can be delivered from their ordeal by those accomplished in achieving divinatory trances (here he is speaking of the mantic variety consisting essentially of a kind of prophetic diagnosis) followed by a recovery through purifications and rites (i.e., the act of telestic mania). In brief, the diviner determines the nature of the disease by divining the diety responsible so that appropriate rituals may be performed to appease the deity. The critical matter for Plato was to ascertain the manner in which one becomes "correctly entranced and possessed." [emphasis added]. The answer that he came to adopt was that the good aspect of trance is the kind brought on by ritual that has been passed down through the generations.”
The reason why I was reading Zanoni was that I had once seen a reference to it, in Rudolf Steiner’s discussion of the Guardian of the Threshold in his book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment (available on the Internet at http://www.elib.com/Steiner/Books/ ). On an idle day not too long ago I recalled the Zanoni reference. I searched for Zanoni on the Internet, and found a copy at The Gutenberg Project’s website, http://www.gutenberg.org .
(In case you don’t know about The Gutenberg Project, I will
say a few words about it. It is a truly
wonderful activity that has been going on for a couple of decades. The Gutenberg Project, directed by Michael S.
Over the course of the past year or so, I have seen an increasing number of references to Bulwer-Lytton (variously referred to in bibliographies and references as Bulwer, Lytton, Bulwer Lytton, Bulwer-Lytton, Edward George Bulwer-Lytton, First Baron Lytton, or Edward Bulwer, Lord Lytton), and so I decided to “look him up” on the Internet. Bulwer-Lytton was an English novelist, playwright and politician who lived 1803-1873. He was one of the most prolific novelists of his day. He is now remembered mainly for his work, The Last Days of Pompeii, which was published in 1834. Wikipedia (online encyclopedia) observes the following about his current-day reputation: A prolific novelist in his day, he is now almost forgotten, his name living on in the annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, in which contestants have to supply the openings of terrible (imaginary) novels. This was inspired by his novel Paul Clifford, which opens with the famous words,
"It was a dark and stormy night"
or to give the sentence in its full glory:
"It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents – except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness."
The opening phrase was popularized by the Peanuts comic strip: Snoopy would often begin with it at the typewriter. Winners in the contest capture the rapid changes in point of view, the florid language, and the atmosphere of the full sentence.
A second contest, the Lyttle Lytton contest ( http://adamcadre.ac/lyttle.html ), also asks for opening sentences of terrible novels, but limits entries to 25 words maximum. The contest has run from 1 January to 15 April in 2001 through 2004.
There is actually a rather long sequence of events leading to my coming across, and taking more than casual notice of, Bulwer-Lytton’s work. First, as a boy, I read many of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ novels – not so much the Tarzan series, but mainly the Martian series and a few of his others. One of these was Pellucidar, which describes a “journey to the center of the earth.” Over the years since then, I have had a tendency to notice books about subterranean civilizations. It turns out that there are quite a few of them. Here is a quote from Arktos, by Joscelyn Godwin: “The literature of the Romantic era, needless to say, is rich in fantasies of polar mysteries and lands within the earth. The best known works are probably George Sand’s Laura ou le voyage dans le crystal (Laura, or the voyage on the Crystal); Edgar Allen Poe’s The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym; Alexandre Dumas’ Isaac Laquédem; Bulwer Lytton’s The Coming Race; Jules Verne’s Voyage au centre de la terre (Voyage to the Center of the Earth) and Le Sphinx des glaces (The Sphinx of the Ice). Novels by later and less distinguished authors include William Bradshaw’s The Goddess of Atvatabar (1892), Robert Ames Bennet’s Thyra, A Romance of the Polar Pit (1901), Willis George Emerson’s The Smoky God (1908) and the Pellucidarian stories of Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan.” Godwin might also have mentioned H. G. Wells’ novel, The Time Machine.
All of the novels mentioned above are simply novels,
represented as such (adventure stories of the science-fiction / fantasy
genre). In addition to these works,
however, there is a large body of literature dealing with subterranean themes
that is of a quite different nature – an occult, or
esoteric nature, as opposed to an “adventure-story” nature. This is the collection of works dealing with
the legends / myths of Shambhala (or Shamballah or other similar spellings) and
Agharta (or Agartha, or Agarttha, or Asgartha, or other phonetically-similar
spellings). The terms Shambhala and Agharta
refer to a mythical kingdom inhabited by spirits that monitor and control the
world. Some sources consider them to be
the same thing, while others consider them to be distinct kingdoms that oppose
each other. Yet other sources describe
Shambhala as the capital city of the
Shambhala and Agartha are mythical in the same sense as the continents of Lemuria (Mu) and Atlantis – they exist in a different “dimension” (or “level of materiality”; or “density,” or “vibration,” to use current New-Age terminology) from that of today’s physical reality / world, and are reached by means such as meditation, hypnotic regression and astral projection. Edwin Bernbaum’s book, The Way to Shambhala, contains the following passage:
“An old Tibetan story tells of a young man who set off on the quest for Shambhala. After crossing many mountains, he came to the cave of an old hermit, who asked him, “Where are you going across these wastes of snow?”
“To find Shambhala,” the youth replied.
“Ah, well then, you need not travel far,” the hermit said. “The
The French mystic René
Guénon discusses the
The location of
Shambhala / Agartha is specified either interior to the Earth or on its
surface, in the latter case usually in or near the
There is a strong link between mythical cities and Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). On his trip to search for Shambhala, Nicholas Roerich relates the following experience (Altai-Himalaya, (1929) pp. 361-362):
“On August fifth  – something remarkable! We were in our camp in the Kukunor district not far from the Humboldt Chain. In the morning about half-past nine some of our caravaneers noticed a remarkably big black eagle flying above us. Seven of us began to watch this remarkable bird. At this same moment another of our caravaneers remarked, “There is something far above the bird.” And he shouted in his astonishment. We all saw, in a direction from north to south, something big and shiny reflecting the sun, like a huge oval moving at great speed. Crossing our camp this thing changed in its direction from south to southwest. We even had time to take our field glasses and saw quite distinctly an oval form with shiny surface, one side of which as brilliant from the sun.”
The belief that UFOs are terrestrial in origin (but come from a different “dimension” or “density” or “parallel universe”) is strongly held today. (See, e.g., Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens by John E. Mack; Secret Life: Firsthand, Documented Accounts of UFO Abductions by David M. Jacobs; Sight Unseen: Science, UFO Invisibility and Transgenic Beings by Budd Hopkins; The Adventure of Self-Discovery by Stansilav Grof; The High Strangeness of Dimensions, Densities and the Process of Alien Abduction by Laura Knight-Jadczyk; and several of David Icke’s books, including The Robot’s Rebellion, …and the truth shall set you free, The Biggest Secret, and Children of the Matrix.) Alternatively, many sources suggest an “Extraterrestrial Hypothesis” (ETH), in which UFOs come from faraway places (e.g., Orion, Sirius, Cassiopeia) (whether from our own dimension or not) (see, e.g., The Mammoth Book of UFOs by Lynn Picknett or The World’s Greatest UFO & Alien Encounters (anonymous, 2002, Chancellor Press / Octopus Publishing Group, London).
It is in the occult category of subterranean or
Shambhala-Agartha literature in which Bulwer-Lytton’s name frequently arises. Bulwer-Lytton had a profound effect on events
of both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
He had a passion for occult studies, and used his knowledge of the
occult as the basis for several of his novels, including Zanoni (1842), A Strange
Story (1862) and The Coming Race
(1871) (all available, by the way, from the Gutenberg Project). His work strongly influenced Madame
(Other sources of information on subterranean or hollow worlds include: The Lost World of Agharti: The Mystery of Vril Power by Alec Maclellan (lots of detailed history); Lost Continents and the Hollow Earth by David Hatcher Childress and Richard Shaver (esp. the article, “The Underground World of Central Asia” by Childress); Subterranean Worlds inside Earth by Timothy Green Beckley; The Hollow Earth Enigma by Alec Maclellan; Hollow Planets: A Feasibility Study of Possible Hollow Worlds by Jan Lamprecht (very large bibliography); and Our Mysterious Spaceship Moon by Don Wilson. In the matter of mythic or nonphysical worlds, there is a vast literature, including, for example, The History of Atlantis by Louis Spence; Edgar Cayce on Atlantis by Edgar Evans Cayce; The Legend of Atlantis by Eliah; The Story of Atlantis and Lost Lemuria by W. Scott-Elliot; Cosmic Memory: Prehistory of Earth and Man by Rudolf Steiner (available on the Internet from http://www.elib.com/Steiner/Books/ (detailed description of nonphysical aspects of Lemuria / Atlantis); The Complete Ascension Manual by Joshua David Stone (brief history of Lemuria / Atlantis); and Telos by Dianne Robbins (“New-Age” orientation, limited list of references).)
Madame Blavatsky was influenced not only by Bulwer-Lytton,
but by a French writer, Louis Jacolliot, who appears to have been the first
Western writer to refer to the mystical
Why is it of interest to comment on Bulwer-Lytton’s writings? Because, almost solely because of his writings the Theosophy movement began, and Nazism was inspired to attempt to take over the world. The pen is, in fact, mightier than the sword – since it influences and controls it. Today, largely because of the work and inspiration of early writers like Bulwer-Lytton, the New Age movement is growing incredibly fast, from almost nothing a few decades ago other than a few people interested in Edgar Cayce and yoga. As the industrial world runs out of petroleum, massive change will occur. What happens at this time will be controlled, as it always has been, by those of the strongest spiritual belief and commitment. Bulwer-Lytton’s writings led, rather directly, to the assumption of power by Adolf Hitler, and the Second World War. It will be interesting to see what happens next.
Many people discount things unseen, and pay little attention to occult or esoteric explanations, either of strange happenings or of uncontested events (such as Hitler’s incredible rise to power). Those who do, however, do so at their peril. While they may reject spiritual explanations or aspects of world events, there are many world leaders who take these matters very seriously.
It does not matter who wrote these myths or whether they
exist in a spiritual realm or in the physical world. To criticize these myths as of diminished
utility or value because of the source or their spiritual/physical nature is
analogous to the use of an ad hominem
attack against an argument. The Bible and the Koran include content that is of value, independent of the
source. Is the moral lesson of Jesus’
parable of the prodigal son of diminished value because it is merely a
story? Is the utility of Synarchy as a
form of planetary government dependent on reality of Agharta as spiritual or
physical? The Protocols of the (Learned) Elders of
More and more of today’s writers, such as Neale Donald Walsch (Conversations with God), Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins (Left Behind), James Redfield (The Celestine Prophecy) and Barbara Marx Hubbard (Conscious Evolution) are convinced that a spiritual revolution is about to take place, with concomitant massive changes in Earth and in human society. The one thing that you can count on in this world / universe is change. And it may be change for the better or change for the worse. As global petroleum supplies, the world will soon plunge into chaos and the economic forces of global industrialization will lose their stranglehold grip on the planet. There will soon be a tremendous opportunity for planetary change. That change will be for the better only if the spiritual forces for good prevail over those of evil.
By the way, the “vril” (kundalini, prana, chi)
life force mentioned below was the inspiration for the “vril” suffix in Bovril
(“Bovine vril”), the breakfast spread so popular in
Since my time available for writing at the present is short, I will quote passages from several of the works mentioned above, with no further comment. All of the works quoted are currently in print, available from http://www.amazon.com . If you are interested in this material, I strongly urge your purchase of the books – they are in paperback, and reasonably priced. The sections quoted below contain text only, and many of the books are replete with footnotes, endnotes, graphics, and references. The works from which I extract material are those of an analytical, comparative, critical and summary nature. For detailed description of the history of history of discovery of material on Agharta, Shambhala, subterranean worlds and related topics (since the time of Jacolliot and Bulwer-Lytton), see The Lost World of Agharti: The Mystery of Vril Power by Alec Maclellan and the article, “The Underground World of Central Asia” by David Hatcher Childress in Lost Continents & the Hollow Earth, by David Hatcher Childress and Richard S. Shaver. For detailed descriptions of individual quests to find Shambhala, consult either Ferdinand Ossendowski’s or Nicholas Roerich’s diaries. [I will add more descriptive material, if sufficient requests are made.]
d’Alveydre’s posthumous work
Naturally, hostile and sceptical critics did not fail to accuse Ossendowski of simply plagiarizing Saint-Yves, supporting their allegation by pointing out all the concordant passages in the two books; and in fact there are a good number that show a rather astonishing similarity, even to points of detail. First of all, in one of his most improbable passages, Saint-Yves asserts the existence of a subterranean world with branches everywhere – under continents and even under the oceans – by means of which communications are invisibly established between all the regions of the earth; moreover, Ossendowski does not affirm this on his own authority, even declaring that he does not know what to think of it, but attributes it rather to reports received from people he met in the course of his journey. On a more particular point, there is also a passage in which the 'King of the World' is depicted in front of his predecessor's tomb and where the question is raised concerning the origin of the gypsies, who, among others, are said to have lived originally in Agarttha. Saint-Yves writes that there are moments during the subterranean celebration of the 'cosmic mysteries' when travelers upon the desert stop motionless and even the animals are silent; and Ossendowski has assured us that he himself was present at such a moment of universal contemplation. But most important of all, by a strange coincidence both writers tell the story of an island now vanished where extraordinary men and beasts once lived; at this point Saint-Yves cites the summary by Diodorus of Sicily of the journey of Iambulus, whereas Ossendowski describes the journey of an ancient Buddhist from Nepal; but their accounts hardly differ, so that if two versions from such widely divergent sources really do exist it would be interesting to acquire them and compare them carefully.
Although we have
pointed to these similarities, it should be emphasized that we are in no way
convinced that there was indeed plagiarism; and we do not in any case intend to
enter into a discussion of only limited interest. We know through other sources, independent of
the evidence offered by Ossendowski himself, that
stories of this kind are current in
These preliminary observations must suffice, for we wish to remain apart from any polemics or questions of personalities; we have only cited Ossendowski and Saint-Yves as a point of departure for considerations that have nothing to do with what one might think of either of them, and whose importance exceeds their individualities, as well as our own, which in this domain should no longer count. Nor do we propose a more or less vain 'textual criticism,’ but rather a presentation of some information that, to our knowledge, has been unavailable until now, and that might help in some measure to elucidate what Ossendowski calls the 'mystery of mysteries.’
[LePage is discussing Andrew Tomas, author of the book Shambhala: Oasis of Light (1976).]
of the reality of Shambhala, fed by his meeting with Roerich in 1935, was
shared by a growing metaphysical school in
According to Guénon, Shambhala is a center of high
evolutionary energies in
Guénon indicated that Shambhala exists both above and below ground. He enlarged on the vast underground network of caverns and tunnels running under the sacred center for hundreds of kilometers, attributing to these catacombs, as had Saint-Yves d'Alveydre before him in 1910, the function of an even more secret and advanced center of initiation called Agarttha. Agarttha, he said, was the true center of world government. It was the impregnable storehouse of the world's wisdom, surviving the ebb and flow of civilizations and the catastrophes of the earth, and would shortly send forth its energies to create a new planetary culture.
In the same
prophetic spirit, other occult writers saw Shambhala as the venue of the
imminently returning Christ. The neo-Theosophist
[LePage is here discussing John Michell’s book, Earth Spirit]
…The nature of the spirit that animates the earth, "subtle, omnipresent, yet ever indefinable in terms of the dimensions apparent to our senses,” says Michell,
…forms the ultimate problem for modern physicists as it did for their predecessors, the magicians.... Yet we can be certain that this force, formerly identified with the holy spirit, provided the power and inspiration by which the ancient civilization was sustained.... It was held to be what some now call the life-essence, the pervading flow with which at death the spirit becomes merged, and from which arises the vital spark that stimulates new growth. Its names are legion. It is the prana or mana of eastern metaphysics, the "vril," the universal plastic medium of occultists, the anima mundi of alchemy.
Wilhelm Reich called it the orgone force, the Chinese call it qi or chi and understand its causal relation to all other forces.
"Chinese philosophy," says Paul Dong, an American-Chinese author writing on paranormal phenomena in mainland China, "holds that qi is the primal matrix of creation from which springs the yin and yang forces that give rise to substance and material forms ... and thus a master of ql is one who controls the very forces of life. Such a person can perform feats that are truly paranormal.”
In Guénon's view, the vast network of terrestrial magnetic and electrical currents which the Chinese call respectively blue dragon and white tiger lines is analogous to the Indian system of nadis in the human body and is similarly fed by the main artery of terrestrial kundalini that runs like a great unifying spine through the planet. There are power centers other than Meru scattered about the globe: Mount Athos, Mount Shasta, Mount Kailas, Arunachala and others; but these Guénon regards as auxiliaries of the main power center in Shambhala, even as the large nerve centers in various limbic parts of the human body are auxiliaries of the central nervous system.
The idea of an energetic correspondence between the human and planetary systems has also been voiced by Lyall Watson, a naturalist, anthropologist and archaeologist, who discusses the harmony between the two systems in terms that suggest their synchronization of activity. "Earth’s magnetic field," he writes, "fluctuates between eight and sixteen times per second. The predominant rhythm of our brains lies in the same area." Learning that at sunrise in many parts of the world there is a unique electromagnetic transmission, he notes: "We find that frequency associated with physiology... Our systems, both planetary and personal, are governed by the same timekeeper.”
According to the ancient cosmology, that synchronization was rendered possible because one universal energy gave rise to the multiplicity of all known energies, all known phenomena, whether organic or inorganic, meaningfully relating every part of the universe to every other part. Guénon's worldview rests on the same unitive principle. He sees the universal energy as synergistic, as outside the entropic processes of the cosmos and knowable only indirectly by reference to its reflected properties in spacetime. Whether we call it Kundalini, Divine Light, Holy Spirit, Shekinah or Great Life-Force – and he uses all these names in turn from the roll call of religions – it is conceived of as superordinal to all else, a power inhering at the center of all phenomena in a zone of absolute reality, absolute being and transcendental radiance that lies beyond them, yet informs them all. That power, Guénon believes, not only radiates out from the center of Shambhala, inspiring and sustaining its communities, but also plays an unsuspected central role in the life of the planet as a whole, which cannot be understood without it.
Guénon's conception is a grand one that dignifies the earth with life, consciousness and soul. In every essential it accords with James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis, although it goes much further. As is well known, Lovelock, a British biologist, has graced the earth with the beautiful name of Gaia after the ancient Greek earth-goddess, on the grounds that she is intelligent and purposive, "a super-organism, a living being of planetary proportions” who, like all organisms, is self-organizing and capable of maintaining her own life and well-being.
In The Ages of Gaia, published in 1988, he conceived of the planet as an integrated whole, a mothering web of life in which the organism and the environment interact and evolve symbiotically so as to form a single living entity, each part cooperating with every other part to promote a continuation and evolution of more life. All the planet's self-regulating mechanisms, he believed, point to this conclusion. The stability of the atmosphere over millions of years despite its unstable and reactive gases, the maintenance of an even temperature despite the sun’s growing heat, and the earth’s apparent ability to select, out of others equally possible, just the right climatic conditions and chemical constituents for the continuing health of its life-forms, points to the inherently living and purposive nature of our globe.
Lovelock has come under a lot of criticism for his unorthodox views in scientific circles, and he has now modified his position. In 1990 his fellow biologist, Rupert Sheldrake, referred to him as the leading proponent of the hypothesis that the Earth is a self-regulating living organism; but in a more recent essay (1996) by Don Michael in Jim Swan's Dialogues With the Living Earth, a footnote states that Lovelock now says Gaia acts like a living organism, not is one. Noting that the earth "has a tendency to produce stability, and to survive," he explains, "I needed to show that the stability emerges from the properties of the system, not from some purposeful guiding hand.”
No doubt there are many who regret Lovelock's reformulation, which seems to deny Mother Earth anything more than a robotic nature – if such a thing can be conceived without a guiding intelligence to motivate it. However, he has already done his work in sowing valuable seeds that can be further cultivated by others. Scientists, like Sheldrake, continue to search for a viable formula by which to express their vision of Gaia as a living, goal-directed organism. Especially since the physicists' formulation of the Unified Field Theory, the pressure to redefine the earth in holistic terms, as an animate and organismic biosphere, has steadily increased.
But as has been said, Guénon, faithful to the ancient Cabalistic-Hermetic tradition, goes further. The earth, he contends, is not only alive; it is a spiritual being, as man is. On the subtle plane it too has an inner body of light, a vajra body. It too is highly evolved, with something like the equivalent of our phylogenetic structure, the equivalent of a spinal cord, of a sympathetic nervous system and of a cortical governing center even as the human central nervous system has; and therefore Mother Earth operates under the same self-governing and self-maintaining evolutionary principles as are evident in human beings.
In his book
For Guénon, the Christ with his twelve apostles represents the Lord of the World for this age who, during it, is the supreme Lawgiver for our earth. According to Guénon:
The title "Lord of the World" belongs properly to "Manu," the primordial and universal legislator. This is the name that in various forms is found amongst many ancient peoples: Mina or Menes of the Egyptians, the Celtic Menw, and Greek Minos. In reality the name describes not a figure that is more or less historical or legendary, but a principle, a cosmic Intelligence that reflects pure spiritual light and formulates the Law (Dharma) appropriate to the conditions of our world and of our cycle of existence. At the same time, it is the archetype of man in his uniqueness, that is to say, of man as a thinking being (in Sanskrit manava).
Those on the human level of the Hierarchy who directly serve this principle mirror it from below and become themselves Lawgivers. They govern the ebb and flow of the culture tides emanating from Shambhala, according to which the spiritual brotherhoods move to and fro across the earth, obeying the obscure rhythms of history and civilization. These are the migrations that are rarely observed and never recorded in our history books, yet are the very mainspring of humanity’s cultural evolution. The movements of the underground organizations that keep the religious spirit alive in society are monitored by Masters who inhabit Shambhala’s inner zone.
Alice Bailey calls them Ascended Masters, ldries Shah calls them Guardians of the Tradition, John Bennett psychoteleios or "perfected ones," and they are also known as the Ancient Ones, the Watchers, the Immortals, the Monitors, the Hidden Directorate, the Children of Seth. All follow what is known as the Ancient Path. According to esoteric tradition, in remote times before the advent of the Mystery schools they lived in more open communication with us, but as the age advanced were compelled to withdraw into their present obscurity, so that now they are accessible to only the most highly purified souls and with rare exceptions are known to the rest of us only through the grace of mystical vision.
Those who live in Shambhala's transcendental inner zone are its engine, its powerhouse; their consciousness turns the wheel. They are the supreme authority for this planet, forming the governing core of Shambhala and, through the ashrams and monasteries of the outer region, of the world. The inner region no doubt has its hidden settlements and cultivated environs like the outer zone, and probably an even higher technology, but the inner Masters are no longer reliant on the physical state. Sometimes incarnate, but often discarnate, they are beyond religious and ethnic categories and work at energy levels that are entirely outside the frequencies with which ordinary humanity is familiar, in ways we are not yet able to comprehend.
Shambhala-Agarttha, says Guénon [actually, in The King of the World, Guénon refers only to Agarttha, and never to Shambhala], is related to the zodiacal sign of Libra, which means "balance" or "scales," and is the quintessential point of balance for the planet; and in precisely the same sense the Directorate is a stabilizing and balancing force in the life of the race. No matter how eccentrically we deviate from the path of wisdom, no matter what descending cycle of destruction, what frightful chimeras we pursue in the course of our evolution, the Directorate negotiates a balance. It is the countervailing and normative influence in our midst, secretly conserving what we have lost, holding in our best interests what we carelessly throw away and safeguarding a future in whose reality we never really believe and are not capable of serving. In an age of superstition it promotes the sciences; when materialism prevails, it reforms religions. It waits when we rush forward, acts when we sleep, believes in life eternal when we do not, and the more we value the exoteric phantasms of the material world the more it withdraws into the invisible realms of soul, counterbalancing our periods of intense physical exploration with equally long periods of withdrawal.
So far we have considered only meditational techniques; but what technology produced the shining spheroid oval Roerich and his party saw speeding high across the cloudless Inner Asian skies, suddenly changing direction, in 1927? Of all the strange manifestations attributed to Shambhala this is the most mysterious, the most inexplicable. Even allowing for an hallucinatory factor, eminently possible in anything connected with Shambhala, the purely material aeronautical basis of the phenomenon, witnessed through three pairs of binoculars and familiar to the lamas present, is undeniable. It is only in the twentieth century that we can fully appreciate how mysterious this is, and can ask ourselves whether the same Shambhalic technology is responsible for the flying saucers that have been seen by millions of people in every part of the world. If so, how and where was it developed, and how long ago? What are its principles? And how has it escaped detection? We can answer none of these questions.
The lamas told
Roerich that the flying object he saw was the signature of Shambhala and the
sign of its blessing. When it flies
overhead one may know that august powers are at hand to succor struggling
humanity and to help in enterprises of humanitarian value. As to the energy that empowers its flight, it
is the primal energy, "this fine imponderable matter which is scattered
everywhere and which is within our use at any moment" – the same energy
that Tomas has called "the intelligent force in the core of the
atom.” Whether the sign of Shambhala is
psychophysical rather than purely physical in the sense that we normally
understand the term is something we do not yet know. But not only are stories of strange aircraft
traditionally associated with Shambhala, more than one sighting of UFOs have
been reliably reported in the region. In
1933 the British mountaineer Frank Smythe, on reaching an altitude of 26,000
Up until recently the unidentified flying object was generally the mass target of either credulous cultist fascination or disbelief and scorn. But the number of hardened skeptics in the population is rapidly waning as trained enquiry by scientists and academics, plus the sheer overwhelming weight of reliable observers, is tending to support the authenticity of the phenomenon – although its interpretation is another matter. It has been almost universally assumed that the UFO, if given any credence at all, must be a spacecraft manned by extraterrestrial beings, especially since their craft appears to be capable of moving in and out of visibility, passing through material barriers and executing maneuvers that defy gravity and mass and are impossible for the human frame to withstand. But as more facts become known and their study has moved onto a more sophisticated level of research, different options are being considered.
Dr. Kenneth Ring,
professor of psychology at the
Dr. Jacques Vallée, a computer expert trained in astrophysics, is one of the most prominent investigators of UFO phenomena. According to Vallée:
It is curious to observe that even scientifically trained researchers who accept the idea of multiple universes, or the few ufologists who understand the idea that space-time could be folded to allow almost instantaneous travel from one point of our universe to another, still cling emotionally to the notion that any nonhuman form of consciousness is necessarily from outer space.
In the light of thousands of personal accounts of close encounters and abductions involving UFOs, and the extraordinary consistency and sincerity of these accounts, strong arguments are now being marshaled against this assumption of extraterrestrial visitation in favor of an unknown earth-agency that is manipulating the popular mind in such a way as to create a global metamorphosis of consciousness. Like the near-death experience, which is equally ubiquitous, the UFO experience with its strong psychic and paranormal overtones has features that are increasingly being interpreted as a form of spiritual awakening or initiation, although with puzzlingly physical elements.
It has been observed by modern researchers that, although these unknown aerial objects are physical enough to be tracked by radar and witnessed by hundreds of people at the same time, in many cases of close encounter a psychic dimension is present, indicative of trance, altered states of consciousness, time loss, hazy reportage, etc., which throws the objectivity of the experience into doubt. Many witnesses report leaving normal reality behind and moving as though within a lucid dream – as though ordinary space-time physics no longer applies – until they are returned to the normal world with the sense of a break in time. But in fact this is an accurate description of any out-of-the-body experience in which the physical body is left behind in an entranced sleep while the inner body, carrying the egoic consciousness with it, moves elsewhere for a time, often unaware that the physical body is not involved in its adventures.
An unusually clear
example of such an experience has been recounted by a woman in
On the other hand, some people seem to be well aware of the psychophysical nature of their encounter and state frankly that it has been a deeply personal initiatory experience resulting in physical hearings, psychic gifts or a radical change in spiritual direction….
Occultism has its
basis in a religious way of thinking, the roots of which stretch back into
antiquity and which may be described as the Western esoteric tradition. Its principal ingredients have been
identified as Gnosticism, the Hermetic treatises on alchemy and magic,
NeoPlatonism, and the Cabbala all originating in the eastern Mediterranean area
during the first few centuries AD.
Gnosticism properly refers to the beliefs of certain heretical sects
among the early Christians that claimed to possess gnosis, or special esoteric knowledge of spiritual matters. Although their various doctrines differed in
many respects, two common Gnostic themes exist: first, an oriental (Persian)
dualism, according to which the two realms of Good and Evil, Light and
Darkness, order and chaos are viewed as independent battling principles; and second,
the conviction that this material world is utterly evil, so that man can be
saved only by attaining the gnosis of the higher realm. The Gnostic sects disappeared in the fourth
century, but their ideas inspired the dualistic Manichaean religion of the second
century and also the Hermetica. These Greek texts were composed in
When the basic
assumptions of the medieval world were shaken by new modes of enquiry and
geographical discoveries in the fifteenth century, Gnostic and Hermetic ideas
enjoyed a brief revival. Prominent
humanists and scholar magicians edited the old classical texts during the
Renaissance and thus created a modern corpus of occult speculation. But after the triumph of empiricism in the
seventeenth-century scientific revolution, such ideas became the preserve of
only a few antiquarians and mystics. By
the eighteenth century these unorthodox religious and philosophical concerns
were well defined as 'occult,’ inasmuch as they lay on the outermost fringe of
accepted forms of knowledge and discourse.
However, a reaction to the rationalist Enlightenment, taking the form of
a quickening romantic temper, an interest in the Middle Ages and a desire for
mystery, encouraged a revival of occultism in
first book, Isis Unveiled (1877), was
less an outline of her new religion than a rambling tirade against the
rationalist and materialistic culture of modern Western civilization. Her use of traditional esoteric sources to
discredit present-day beliefs showed clearly how much she hankered after
ancient religious truths in defiance of contemporary agnosticism and modern
science. In this enterprise she drew
upon a range of secondary sources treating of pagan mythology and mystery
religions, Gnosticism, the Hermetica,
and the arcane lore of the Renaissance scholars, the Rosicrucians and other
secret fraternities. W. E. Coleman has
shown that her work comprises a sustained and frequent plagiarism of about one
hundred contemporary texts, chiefly relating to ancient and exotic religions,
demonology, Freemasonry and the case for spiritualism. Behind these diverse traditions, Madame
Blavatsky discerned the unique source of their inspiration: the occult lore of
Only after Madame
Blavatsky and her followers moved to
The Secret Doctrine claimed to describe the activities of God from the beginning of one period of universal creation until its end, a cyclical process which continues indefinitely over and over again. The story related how the present universe was born, whence it emanated, what powers fashion it, whither it is progressing, and what it all means. The first volume (Cosmogenesis) outlined the scheme according to which the primal unity of an unmanifest divine being differentiates itself into a multiformity of consciously evolving beings that gradually fill the universe. The divine being manifested itself initially through an emanation and three subsequent Logoi: these cosmic phases created time, space, and matter, and were symbolized by a series of sacred Hindu sigils [circle, circle plus (superimposed) dot, circle plus vertical bar, circle plus horizontal bar, circle plus plus sign]. All subsequent creation occurred in conformity with the divine plan, passing through seven 'rounds' or evolutionary cycles. In the first round the universe was characterized by the predominance of fire, in the second by air, in the third by water, in the fourth by earth, and in the others by ether. This sequence reflected the cyclical fall of the universe from divine grace over the first four rounds and its following redemption over the next three, before everything contracted once more to the point of primal unity for the start of a new major cycle. Madame Blavatsky illustrated the stages of the cosmic cycle with a variety of esoteric symbols, including triangles, triskelions, and swastikas. So extensive was her use of this latter Eastern sign of fortune and fertility that she included it in her design for the seal of the Theosophical Society. The executive agent of the entire cosmic enterprise was called Fohat, a ‘universal agent employed by the Sons of God to create and uphold our world.' The manifestations of this force were, according to Blavatsky, electricity and solar energy, and 'the objectivised thought of the gods.' This electro-spiritual force was in tune with contemporary vitalist and scientific thought.
The second volume
(Anthropogenesis) attempted to relate man to this grandiose vision of the
cosmos. Not only was humanity assigned
an age of far greater antiquity than that conceded by science, but it was also
integrated into a scheme of cosmic, physical, and spiritual evolution. These theories were partly derived from late
nineteenth century scholarship concerning palaeontology, inasmuch as Blavatsky
adopted a racial theory of human evolution.
She extended her cyclical doctrine with the assertion that each round
witnessed the rise and fall of seven consecutive root-races, which descended on
the scale of spiritual development from the first to the fourth, becoming
increasingly enmeshed in the material world (the Gnostic notion of a Fall from
Light into Darkness was quite explicit), before ascending through progressively
superior root-races from the fifth to the seventh. According to Blavatsky, present
humanity constituted the fifth root-race upon a planet that was passing through
the fourth cosmic round, so that a process of spiritual advance lay before the
species. The fifth root-race was called
the Aryan race and had been preceded by the fourth root-race of the Atlanteans,
which had largely perished in a flood that submerged their mid-Atlantic
continent. The Atlanteans had wielded
psychic forces with which our race was not familiar, their gigantism enabled
them to build cyclopean structures, and they possessed a superior technology
based upon the successful exploitation of Fohat. The three earlier races of the present
planetary round were proto-human, consisting of the first Astral root-race
which arose in an invisible, imperishable and sacred land and the second
Hyperborean root-race which had dwelt on a vanished Polar continent. The third Lemurian root-race flourished on a
continent which had lain in the
A further unimportant theosophical tenet was the belief in reincarnation and karma, also taken from Hinduism. The individual human ego was regarded as a tiny fragment of the divine being. Through reincarnation each ego pursued a cosmic iourney through the rounds and the root-races which led it towards eventual reunion with the divine being whence it had originally issued. This path of countless rebirths also recorded a story of cyclical redemption: the initial debasement of the ego was followed by its gradual sublimation to the point of identity with God. The process of reincarnation was fulfilled according to the principle of karma, whereby good acts earned their performer a superior reincarnation and bad acts an inferior reincarnation. This belief not only provided for everyone's participation in the fantastic worlds of remote prehistory in the root-race scheme, but also enabled one to conceive of salvation through reincarnation in the ultimate root-races which represented the supreme state of spiritual evolution: ‘we men shall in the future take our places in the skies as Lords of the planets, Regents of galaxies and wielders of fire-mist [Fohat].’ This chiliastic vision supplemented the psychological appeal of belonging to a vast cosmic order.
Besides its racial
emphasis, theosophy also stressed the principle of élitism and the value of hierarchy. Blavatsky claimed she received her initiation
into the doctrines from two exalted mahatmas or masters called Morya and Koot
Hoomi, who dwelt in a remote and secret Himalayan fastness. These adepts were not gods but rather
advanced members of our own evolutionary group, who had decided to impart their
wisdom to the rest of the Aryan mankind through their chosen representative,
Madame Blavatsky. Like her masters, she
also claimed an exclusive authority on the basis of her occult knowledge or
gnosis. Her account of prehistory
frequently invoked the sacred authority of elite priesthoods among the root-races of the past. When the Lemurians had fallen into iniquity
and sin, only a hierarchy of the elect remained pure in spirit. This remnant became the Lemuro-Atlantean
dynasty of priest-kings who took up their abode on the fabulous
Despite its tortuous argument and the frequent contradictions which arose from the plethora of pseudo-scholarly references throughout the work, The Secret Doctrine may be summarized in terms of three basic principles. Firstly, the fact of a God, who is omnipresent, eternal, boundless and immutable. The instrument of this deity is Fohat, an electro-spiritual force which impresses the divine scheme upon the cosmic substance as the 'laws of nature.' Secondly, the rule of periodicity, whereby all creation is subject to an endless cycle of destruction and rebirth. These rounds always terminate at a level spiritually superior to their starting-point. Thirdly, there exists a fundamental unity between all individual souls and the deity, between the microcosm and the macrocosm. But it was hardly this plain theology that guaranteed theosophy its converts. Only the hazy promise of occult initiation shimmering through its countless quotations from ancient beliefs, lost apocryphal writings, and the traditional Gnostic and Hermetic sources of esoteric wisdom can account for the success of her doctrine and the size of her following amongst the educated classes of several countries.
How can one
explain the enthusiastic reception of Blavatsky's ideas by significant numbers
of Europeans and Americans from the 1880s onwards? Theosophy offered an appealing mixture of
ancient religious ideas and new concepts borrowed from the Darwinian theory of
evolution and modern science. This
syncretic faith thus possessed the power to comfort certain individuals whose
traditional outlook had been upset by the discrediting of orthodox religion, by
the very rationalizing and de-mystiying progress of science and by the
culturally dislocative impact of rapid social and economic change in the late
nineteenth century. George L. Mosse has
noted that theosophy typified the wave of anti-positivism sweeping
Although a foreign
hybrid combining romantic Egyptian revivalism, American spiritualism and Hindu
beliefs, theosophy enjoyed a considerable vogue in
In July 1884 the
first German Theosophical Society was established under the presidency of
(1846-1916) at Elberfeld, where Blavatsky and her chief collaborator, Henry
Steel Olcott, were staying with their theosophical friends, the Gebhards. At this time Hübbe-Schleiden was employed as a senior civil servant at the
Colonial Office in
In 1886 Hübbe-Schleiden stimulated a more
serious awareness of occultism in
scientific current of occultism, there arose in the 1890s a broader German
theosophical movement, which derived mainly from the popularizing efforts of
Franz Hartmann (1838-1912). Hartmann had
been born in Donauwörth and
brought up in
were firstly devoted to Rosicrucian initiates, Paracelsus, Jakob Boehme and
other topics in the Western esoteric tradition, and were published in
example had provided the initial impetus, another important periodical sprang
up. In 1896 Paul Zillmann founded the Metaphysische Rundschau [Metaphysical Review], a monthly
periodical which dealt with many aspects of the esoteric tradition, while also
embracing new parapsychological research as a successor to Die Sphinx. Zillmann, who
lived at Gross-Lichterfelde near Berlin, was an executive committee member of a
new German Theosophical Society founded under Hartmann's presidency at Berlin
in August 1896, when the American theosophists Katherine Tingley, E. T.
Hargrove and C. F. Wright were travelling through Europe to drum up overseas
support for their movement. Zillmann's
own studies and the articles in his periodical betrayed a marked eclecticism:
contributions on yoga, phrenology, astrology, animal magnetism and hypnotism
jostled with reprints of the medieval German mystics, a late eighteenth-century
rosicrucian-alchemical treatise, and the works of the modern French occultist Gérard Encausse (Papus). Hartmann supplied a fictional story about his
discovery of a secret Rosicrucian monastery in the
Theosophical Society had been established in August 1896 as a national branch
of the International Theosophical Brotherhood, founded by the American
theosophists around Willian Quan judge and Katherine Tingley. Theosophy remained a sectarian phenomenon in
activities remained largely under the sway of Franz Hartmann and Paul Zillmann,
mention must be made of another theosophical tendency in
publishers had been entering the field.
Karl Rohm, who had visited the English theosophists in
with the theosophists at
If the German
occult subculture was well developed before the First World War,
New groups devoted
to occultism arose in
Although modern occultism was represented by many varied forms, its function appears relatively uniform. Behind the mantic systems of astrology, phrenology and palmistry, no less the doctrines of theosophy, the quasi-sciences of 'dynamosophy,’ animal magnetism and hypnotism, and a textual antiquarianism concerning the esoteric literature of traditional cabbalists, Rosicrucians, and alchemists, there lay a strong desire to reconcile the findings of modern natural science with a religious view that could restore man to a position of centrality and dignity in the universe. Occult science tended to stress man's intimate and meaningful relationship with the cosmos in terms of ‘revealed' correspondences between the microcosm and macrocosm, and strove to counter materialist science, with its emphasis upon tangible and measurable phenomena and its neglect of invisible qualities respecting the spirit and the emotions. These new 'metaphysical' sciences gave individuals a holistic view of themselves and the world in which they lived. This view conferred both a sense of participation in a total meaningful order and, through divination, a means of planning one's affairs in accordance with this order.
The attraction of
this world-view was indicated at the beginning of this chapter. Occultism had flourished coincident with the
decline of the
led between the 'factual' Buddhistic theosophy of Franz Hartmann, who was also in attendance, and the more spiritual reflective attitude of the rest of the circle. During the 1890s Viennese theosophy appeared to reflect the predilection of the educated classes for piety, subjectivism, and the cult of feelings, a mood which corresponds to the contemporary vogue of the feuilleton and literary impressionism in the arts. Schorske has attempted to relate this cultivation of the self to the social plight of the Viennese bourgeoisie at the end of the century. He suggests that this class had begun by supporting the temple of art as a surrogate form of assimilation into the aristocracy, but ended by finding in it an escape, a refuge from the collapse of liberalism and the emergence of vulgar mass-movements. It appears plausible to locate the rise of Viennese theosophy within this cultural context.
When theosophy had
become more widely publicized through the German publishing houses at the turn
of the century, its ideas reached a larger audience. By this time theosophy represented a detailed
body of teachings, as set down in the newly-available translation of
Blavatsky's major work Die Geheimlehre
[The Secret Doctrine] (1897-1901) and
the numerous abridgements and commentaries by Franz Hartmann, Hermann Rudolph,
Edwin Böhme and others. Whereas the earlier Austrian theosophical
movement had been defined by the mystical Christianity and personal gnosticism of cultivated individuals, its later
The attraction of
theosophy for List, Lanz, and their supporters consisted in its eclecticism
with respect to exotic religion, mythology, and esoteric lore, which provided a
universal and non-Christian perspective upon the cosmos and the origins of
mankind, against which the sources of Teutonic belief, customs and identity,
which were germane to völkisch
speculation, could be located. Given the
antipathy towards Catholicism among völkisch
nationalists and Pan-Germans in
…Since 1960 a number of popular books have represented the Nazi phenomenon as the product of arcane and demonic influence. The remarkable story of the rise of Nazism is implicitly linked to the power of the supernatural. According to this mythology Nazism cannot have been the mere product of socioeconomic factors. No empirical or purely sociological thesis could account for its nefarious projects and continued success. The occult historiography chooses to explain the Nazi phenomenon in terms of an ultimate and arcane power, which supported and controlled Hitler and his entourage. This hidden power is characterized either as a discarnate entity (e.g. 'black forces', 'invisible hierarchies', 'unknown superiors'), or as a magical élite in a remote age or distant location, with which the Nazis were in contact. Recurring themes in the tradition have been a Nazi link with hidden masters in the East, and the Thule Society and other occult lodges as channels of black initiation. All writers of this genre thus document a 'crypto-history,’ inasmuch as their final point of explanatory reference is an agent which has remained concealed to previous historians of National Socialism.
The myth of a Nazi
link with the Orient has a complex pedigree of theosophical provenance. The notion of hidden sacred centres in the
East had been initially popularized by Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine, based on the 'Stanzas of Dzyan,' which she
claimed to have read in a secret Himalayan lamasery. Blavatsky maintained that there existed many
similar centres of esoteric learning and initiation; magnificent libraries and
fabulous monasteries were supposed to lie in mountain caves and underground
labyrinths in the remote regions of
These ideas of a
secret theocracy in the East were supplemented by the power of vril. In his novel The Coming Race (1871) Sir Edward Bulwer-Lvtton had attributed this
power to a subterranean race of men, the Vril-ya, psychically far in advance of
the human species. The powers of vril included telepathy and
telekinesis. This fictional notion was
subsequently exploited by Louis Jacolliot, French consul in
Willy Ley, who emigrated to the
Louis Pauwels and
Jacques Bergier cited this article in their Le
matin des magiciens (1960), the second part of which was devoted to the
Third Reich under the suggestive title 'A few years in the absolute
elsewhere.' They exaggerated the
significance of this obscure
Alliances could be formed with the Master of the World or the King of Fear who reigns over a city hidden somewhere in the East. Those who conclude a pact will change the surface of the Earth and endow the human adventure with a new meaning for many thousands of years ... The world will change: the Lords will emerge from the centre of the Earth. Unless we have made an alliance with them and become Lords ourselves, we shall find ourselves among the slaves, on the dungheap that will nourish the roots of the New Cities that will arise.
Pauwels and Bergier claimed that Hitler and his entourage
believed in such ideas. In their account
This legendary account of Nazi inspiration and ambition was
underpinned by a fanciful account of the Thule Society and certain of its
members. Pauwels and Bergier singled out
two particular individuals as Hitler's occult mentors at
According to Pauwels and Bergier, the influence of these two men upon Hitler chiefly related to the communication of arcane knowledge which was derived from unknown powers, with which contact had been established through the Thule Society and other cults. Eckart’s role as an occult counsellor was related explicitly to invisible hierarchies.
This spurious account also maintained that Haushofer was a
member of the Luminous Lodge, a secret Buddhist society in
Adolf Hitler had
ample opportunity to learn the Thulean mythology in 1924, during his
imprisonment in Landsberg jail with Rudolf Hess (1894-1987), who was the most
committed of the early Nazis to the kind of ideals that List, Lanz, and
Sebottendorff were propagating. Hess was
as völkisch as could
be: he ate biodynamic food and was interested in Rudolf Steiner's
Anthroposophy, magical topics, astrology, the doctrine of correspondences, and
herbalism. One would know much more
about the political and even the occult machinations of this period, so
integral to an understanding of the twentieth-century's greatest tragedy, if
Hess had been encouraged to speak instead of being held incommunicado in
The first book to present the many connections, real and
imagined, between the Nazis and the occult was The Morning of the Magicians by Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier,
first published in
It has always fascinated me to see how everything that was actually
created by the Germans in the Romantic era was not taken seriously by them, but
wandered off into
In other words, the Latins still play innocently with abstract ideas, even demonic ones, whereas the Germans have become wise – after the event – to the dangers of so doing.
Readers of Pauwels
and Bergier will have come across another, more secret society supposed to lie
at the roots of Nazism: the Vril Society, apparently founded by a group of
Berlin Rosicrucians after hearing a lecture by Louis Jacolliot, or else
directly illuminated by the Brahmins of India, and in any case fiercely
anti-Christian. The sole primary source
is an article by Willy Ley, a German rocket engineer who came to the
The next group [after Lanz's Ariosophy] was literally founded upon a
novel. That group which I think called
itself Wahrheitsgesellschaft –
Society for Truth – and which was more or less localized in
No, I am not joking, that is what I was told with great solemnity and secrecy. Such a group actually existed; they even got out the first issue of a magazine which was to proclaim their credo.
Bergier, who had apparently talked to Willy Ley but learned no more from him
than he wrote here, continued their researches and discovered – how, they do
not say – that "this Berlin group
called itself The Luminous Lodge, or The Vril Society." They add that Karl Haushofer had been a
member of it, citing Jack Fishman's The
Seven Men of Spandau (where there is no such information). Haushofer had been in the
Actually, there is
no cause to imagine sinister proto-Nazi plots hatching in this group. The exercise of contemplating an apple,
presumably cut in half horizontally to reveal a five-pointed star, merely
suggests that the "Truth Society" had learned something from Rudolf
Steiner, who recommends similar meditations in his handbook Knowledge of Higher Worlds and Its
Attainment [available on the Internet at http://www.elib.com/Steiner/Books/
]. The interest in Vril was a
commonplace among Theosophists, all of whom knew of Bulwer-Lytton's work; it
was equated by some to Reichenbach's "Od" force, or to Eliphas Levi's
"Astral Light." And to set the record straight, it should be
mentioned that Haushofer did not die "Japanese fashion" but from
arsenic poisoning on
of the world's spiritual center from the
Two names tend to crop up whenever the hidden center is mentioned: Agartha and Shambhala (I use the simplest of their many spellings). They were named in the last chapter by Wilhelm Landig as two rival sources of occult power, the first good and idealistic, the second evil and materialistic. In saying this, Landig was unwisely relying on Louis Pauwels and Jacques Bergier, who write as follows in The Morning of the Magicians:
According to the legend with which Haushofer no doubt became acquainted
in 1905, and the version which René
Guénon gave of it in his Le Roi du Monde, after the cataclysm of
Gobi the lords and masters of this great center of civilization, the
All-Knowing, the sons of Intelligences from Beyond, took up their abode in a
vast underground encampment under the Himalayas. There, in the heart of these caves, they
divided into two groups, one following the "
The second went to Schamballah [sic], a city of violence and power whose forces command the elements and the masses of humanity, and hasten the arrival of the human race at the "turning-point of time." The Wise Men, leaders of the peoples of the world, would be able to conclude a pact with Schamballah, which would be sealed with solemn oaths and sacrifices.
One would like to
be able to pinpoint the original source of this scenario of Agartha-Shambhala
rivalry, but it does not seem possible. Pauwels and Bergier say that Haushofer
"no doubt" became acquainted with it – which means that they are
guessing – in 1905, from a Vril Society for which there is no evidence before
World War I. That leaves René
Guénon as the implied
source. Yet there is not a word in Le Roi du Monde about any of this: the
name of Shambhala does not appear there (in any spelling), nor do the
No matter: the
myth was launched, and would be repeated by most of the French authors of the
genre, even ones with a pretension to scholarship. Here is a baroque version from Jean-Claude Frère's Nazisme et sociétés Secrètes
(1974). After the cataclysm that made
Hyperborea uninhabitable, perhaps 6000 years ago, the inhabitants migrated to
the region now covered by the
Jean-Claude Frère concludes his tale thus:
…the sons of the Outer Intelligences are said to have split into two groups, one following the "Right-hand Path" under the "Wheel of the Golden Sun," the other the "Left-hand Path," under the "Wheel of the Black Sun." The first group preserved the center of Agartha, that undefined place of contemplation, of the Good, and of the Vril force. The second supposedly created a new place of initiation at Shambhala, the city of violence in command of the elements and of human masses, hastening the arrival of the "charnel-house of time."
This, Frère says, is the doctrine that the early Nazis learned between 1920 and 1925; and he points to their power over the German masses as typical of Shambhala's methods.
One can see by comparing Frère's version carefully with Pauwels' and Bergier's that although the conclusion is the same – the schism of Agartha and Shambhala – every detail leading up to it is different. To cite further versions would be to compound the chaos. Instead, having outlined the problem, this chapter will trace the history of Agartha, and the next that of Shambhala, in the
hope of clarifying what they are and what they are not.
The use of
"Agartha" or some phonetically similar name for a hidden land is
surprisingly recent, whatever popular writers and cranks may give their readers
to believe. It had not been used before
the 1870s, when Ernest Renan wrote about an "Asgaard" in
(1837-1890) must go the dubious credit of creating the Agarthian myth. He was a magistrate in Chandernagor,
Asgartha was a prehistoric "City of the Sun," the seat of the
"Brahmatma" who was the chief priest of the Brahmins and the visible
manifestation of God on earth, to whom even kings were as slaves. The Brahmatmas ruled
Far from crediting
this prehistoric high culture of
Thus the myth was born, very much in the spirit of a century which had seen many a fanciful theory about the Aryan Race, its antiquity, and its geographical origins.
Soon after the
appearance of Jacolliot's trilogy, a strange anonymous work called Ghostland, or Researches into the Mysteries
of Occultism (1876) was published under the auspices of Emma Hardinge
Britten, a well-known medium and a founding member of the Theosophical
Society. The narrator of these
"autobiographical sketches," while in
I stood in a subterranean temple of immense extent, fashioned in the shape of a horse-shoe, the large oval of which was arranged as an auditorium, with luxuriously cushioned seats in ascending circles, on the plan of an amphitheatre. The lofty roof was surrounded with highly-wrought cornices, sculptured with emblems of Egyptian and Chaldaic worship, interspersed with sentences emblazoned in gold, in Arabic, Sanskrit, and other Oriental languages. In the midst of the roof which sloped upwards, was a magnificent golden planisphere, formed on an azure plane, and so skilfully designed that the interior of the temple was illuminated from the representations of the heavenly host that gleamed and sparkled above my head. [... ]
Ranged in a semicircle midway on the platform were seven tripods supporting braziers, from which ascended colored flames and wreaths of deliciously perfumed vapors, whose intoxicating odors filled the temple. Behind each tripod, seated on thrones fashioned of burnished silver, so as to represent a glittering star, were seven dark-robed figures, whose masked faces and shrouded forms left no opportunity of judging of their sex or semblance. Around me, some reclining, some sitting in Oriental fashion, were multitudes of men attired mostly in European, but with some Hindoo costumes. Their faces were concealed, however, for they all wore masks. [... ]
The whole temple was furnished with fine metallic lines, every one of which converged to six powerful galvanic batteries attached to the silver thrones by six of the adepts. These persons, adepts in the loftiest and most significant sense of the term, received their inspiration from the occupant of the seventh throne, a being who, though always present, was not always visible, although as on the first night of my attendance a presence from the realms of supernal being was always there.
It was through the electrical system of this "complex battery," the positive pole of which was formed by the seven adepts and the negative by the assembled neophytes, that the narrator and his fellows were mentally impressed with vivid images of cosmic events, covering several pages in his description. The author compares the process to experiments in the electric transmission of thought made by himself with his friend Emma Hardinge Britten. But the adepts of the Ellora Brotherhood were not mere purveyors of a kind of Wagnerian synaesthetic show: we are given to understand that they radiate an unknown force to affect public opinion throughout the world.
Ghostland does not use the name of Agartha, but it is as if Jacolliot's prehistoric center here takes on a new incarnation, as the seat of living adepts who are the hidden masters of world events. And such people do not even have to journey to Ellora to work their powers: the narrator says that once he was made an adept, he was able to occupy the seventh, presiding throne while his body lay sleeping hundreds of miles away. What is missing, however, is the single dominating figure, represented by Jacolliot's Brahmatma, whose powers make him the clandestine ruler of the world.
Did the Asgartha myth of Jacolliot really come from a secret Indian tradition? One would readily dismiss it, were it not for the testimony of Saint-Yves d'Alveydre (1842-1909), whose theories on prehistoric earth changes we will meet in Chapter Sixteen.
Saint-Yves was a
self-educated Christian Hermetist who had made a successful marriage, enabling
him to publish his theories of world history and government and to cultivate
political ambitions. In his quest for
universal understanding, he decided in 1885 to take lessons in Sanskrit, the
classical and philosophical language of
The manuscripts of
Saint-Yves' Sanskrit lessons are preserved in the library of the Sorbonne,
written in exquisite script by Haji and embellished by philological comparisons
from Hebrew and Arabic. On the very
first lesson (
not get close enough to Agartha through his teacher, but he possessed other
means of access: he had mastered the art of disengaging his astral body, and in
this way was able to visit Agartha for himself.
The detailed report on what he found there became the crowning volume of
his series of politico-hermetic "Missions":
No sooner were the sheets off the press than Saint-Yves became nervous: had he gone too far? Later writers would claim that his Indian informants had threatened him with death if he published the secrets of Agartha. In the event, the entire edition was destroyed before publication, with the exception of two copies, one kept by Saint-Yves himself and the other secreted by the printer.
Mission de l’Inde, to put it bluntly, takes the lid off Agartha. We learn that it is a hidden land somewhere in the East, below the surface of the earth, where a population of millions is ruled by a "Sovereign Pontiff" of Ethiopian race, styled the Brahmatina. This almost superhuman figure is assisted by two colleagues, the "Mahatma" and the "Mahanga" (who had not appeared in Jacolliot). His realm, Saint-Yves explains, was transferred underground and concealed from the surface-dwellers at the start of the Kali-Yuga, which he dates around 3200 BCE. Agartha has long enjoyed the benefits of a technology advanced far beyond our own: gas lighting, railways, air travel, and the like. Its government is the ideal one of "Synarchy" which the surface races have lost since the schism that broke the Universal Empire in the fourth millenium BCE, and which Moses, Jesus, and Saint-Yves strove to reinstate. Now and then Agartha sends emissaries to the upper world, of which it has perfect knowledge. Not only the latest discoveries of modern man, but the whole wisdom of the ages is enshrined in its libraries, engraved on stone in Vattanian characters. Among its secrets are those of the relationship of soul to body, and of the means to keep departed souls in communication with incarnate ones. When our world adopts Synarchical government, the time will be ripe for Agartha to reveal itself and to shower its spiritual and temporal benefits on us. To further this, Saint-Yves includes in the book open letters to the Queen of England, the Emperor of Russia, and the Pope, inviting them to use their power to hasten the event. There is much more in the book of an extremely bizarre nature, rather as if Bacon's New Atlantis had been rewritten by Jules Verne and C. W. Leadbeater.
Perhaps the oddest thing is Saint-Yves' own stance. Far from presenting himself as an authorized spokesman for Agartha, he admits that he is a spy. Dedicating the book to the Sovereign Pontiff and signing it with his own name in Vattanian characters (just as Haji had written it out for him), he expatiates on how astounded this great dignitary will be to read the work, wondering how human eyes could have penetrated the innermost sanctuaries of his realm. Saint-Yves explains that he is a spontaneous initiate, bound by oath of secrecy to no one, and that the Brahmatma, once over his shock, will admit the wisdom of what he has dared to reveal.
Agartha and the Brahmatma were leaked in Saint-Yves' own poems as well as in
Papus' writings and letters. The small
coterie of French esotericists who held Saint-Yves in awe thus had some inkling
of it before the posthumous publication of
Here is an extract from Saint-Yves' description of the
subterranean city of
Thousands, even millions of students have never penetrated beyond the first suburban circles; few succeed in mounting the steps of this formidable Jacob's ladder which lead through initiatic trials and examinations to the central cupola.
The latter, a work of magical architecture like all of Agarttha, is lit from above with reflecting panels that only allow the light to enter after it has passed through the entire enharmonic scale of colors, in comparison to which the solar spectrum of our physics treatises is merely the diatonic scale.
It is there that the central hierarchy of Cardinals and Archis, arranged in a semicircle before the Sovereign Pontiff, appears iridized like a view from beyond the Earth, confounding the forms and bodily appearances of the two worlds, and drowning in celestial radiances all visible distinctions of race in a single chromatic of light and sound, singularly removed from the usual notions of perspective and acoustics.
The notion of a secret realm where the Wise live and work had existed since the mid-eighteenth century in the Freemasonry of the Strict Observance, with its "Unknown Superiors.” Baron von Hund, in founding this order, doubtless had in mind the Rosicrucians of the early seventeenth century, presented as moving surreptitiously among humanity and, incidentally, having their central shrine in an underground vault. The rumor, repeated by Guénon, that after the end of the Thirty Years' War, in 1648, the Rosicrucians abandoned Europe for Asia is the very link needed to identify the hidden masters of the East with those who, like the Count of Saint-Germain and Alessandro Cagliostro, had attempted the renovation of the West.
What became of Agartha after Saint-Yves? A few Parisian occultists kept its memory alive in the face of the stronger attractions of the Theosophical Society, which knew no more of it than what Madame Blavatsky had read in Jacolliot. Here is a new definition, taken from a series of articles by one "Narad Mani," which supplied the backbone of Guénon's own hostile study of the Theosophical Society:
Another center masks this one: it is the Masonry of the Taychoux-Marous,
unknown to the Blavatskyians, whose branches spread secretly in
may intrigue, but they do not help to clarify the nature of Agartha, nor its
reader, finding in three chapters of Ossendowsld's book a virtual précis of the "Agarttha"
described in Mission de l’Inde – not
omitting the most improbable details – would conclude that he had capped an
already good story with a convenient piece of plagiarism, altering the
spellings so as to make his version, if challenged, seem informed by an independent
source. But Ossendowski denied this
indignantly, asserting in the presence of René Guénon that he
had never even heard of Saint-Yves d'Alveydre before 1924. Guénon's
interest was kindled, and in 1925 he wrote that he had no reason to doubt
Ossendowski's sincerity. More than that,
Guénon was moved to write his
own book on the subject and its ramifications, which appeared in 1927 as Le Roi du Monde (The king of the
world). He began by saying that
"independently of Ossendowski's testimony, we know from quite different
sources that tales of this kind are current in
Now, should its placement in a definite region be regarded as literally true, or only as symbolic, or is it both at the same time? To this question we simply reply that, for us, the geographical facts themselves and also the historical facts have, like all others, a symbolic value; which moreover evidently does not remove any of their own reality in so far as they are facts, but which confers on them, beyond this immediate reality, a superior significance.
So Guénon at the very least did not count
out a geographical Agartha: if one were proved to exist, it would only bolster
the superior reality of the symbolic one.
Jean-Pierre Laurant comments on this that "the two interpretations have in
fact nothing contradictory about them: they can even join with an appetite for
the marvelous that Guénon did
not repudiate, his life long.” And the late Marco Pallis,
the traveler in
The same trait led
Guénon in 1927 to lend at least
temporary support to a most extraordinary enterprise: the founding of the
"Polaires." The history of this movement is said to date back to
1908, when a young Franco-Italian, Mario Fille, met a hermit who lived in the
One of the first questions to ask such an oracle is "Who are you?" Working with his friend and fellow-musician Cesare Accomani, Fille learned that this was called the "Oracle of Astral Energy": that it was not a method of divination like some Kabbalistic oracles or the I Ching, but an actual channel of communication with the "Rosicrucian Initiatic Center of 'Mysterious' Asia," situated in the Himalayas and directed by the "Three Supreme Sages" or the "Little Lights of the Orient," who live in – Agartha. These at first included Father Julian, then, after his passing on 8 April 1930, purported to come from a "Chevalier Rose-Croix" who was guessed to be a favorite of the neo-Theosophists, the "Master Racoczy," sometime incarnated as Roger Bacon, Francis Bacon, and the Comte de Saint-Germain.
Fille and Accomani
A third supporter
of Asia Mysteriosa was Jean Marquès-Rivière, who had written on Tibetan Buddhism and Tantrism. In his Foreword, he mentions that both
Emmanuel Swedenborg and the early nineteenth-century visionary Anne Catherine
Emmerich had believed in a spiritual center in
Now, the center of transhuman power has a reflection on the earth; it is
a constant tradition in
If the Polaires'
center was somewhere in
The Polaires take this name because from all time the
For a mouthpiece of the spiritual center of the whole earth, associated if not identified both with Blavatsky's White Brotherhood and Saint-Yves' Agartha, the Oracle fell sadly short of expectations. Its answers were elaborate, but not always conclusive. For example:
Q. Do the Three Supreme Sages and Agarttha exist?
A. The Three Sages exist and are the Guardians of the Mysteries of Life and Death. After forty winters passed in penitence for sinful humanity and in sacrifices for suffering humanity, one may have special missions which permit one to enter into the Garden, in preparation for the final selection which opens the Gate of Agarttha.
Few of its statements provided any precise occult or mystical knowledge. One point of interest, however, is that it shared with René Guénon a strong aversion to the theory of reincarnation. One of the "Little Lights," Tek the Wise, says that:
They are without number, the planets which must be traversed in innumerable existences; but what is certain is that there is no return to the same planet.
A fourth article in support of the Oracle was to have been contributed by Guénon himself. He had been interested, he said, by its enigmatic aspects, and had tested it by posing certain doctrinal questions. But the Oracle's responses were vague and most unsatisfactory, and moreover, between Guénon's question and the arrival of its answer, Fille and Accomani founded "a society dressed up with the baroque name of 'Polaires', " whereupon Guénon dissociated himself from them.
Others who briefly accepted the Oracle's authenticity and are cited in Asia Mysteriosa include Arturo Reghini, the Italian writer on oriental traditions and alchemy, who was responsible for introducing Julius Evola to the works of Guénon; and Vivian Postel Du Mas, who had been a member of Schwaller de Lubicz's "Veilleurs" after World War I, and in the 1930s led an esoteric-political group whose doctrines were based on the Synarchy of Saint-Yves. Maurice Girodias paints a lively picture, in his autobiography The Frog Prince, of the vaguely Theosophic community run by Du Mas and Jeanne Canudo, and of their efforts to fight Hitler and Mussolini on the astral plane by directing thought-waves, just as the Polaires had tried to influence world events and heal lost souls by mental projection.
A more famous associate of the Polaires was Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes and propagandist for spiritualism; but his connection began only after his death on 7 July 1930. As a result of mediumistic communications on both sides of the English Channel, Zam Bhotiva (Accomani) got in touch with Grace Cooke, a London medium, in January 1931. Through her he heard Conan Doyle promising that the Polaires were "destined to help in the moulding of the future of the world... For the times are near." Mrs. Cooke's spirit guide, another Tibetan Sage named White Eagle, told her that Bhotiva had come because of instructions from Tibet. The Chevalier Rose-Croix added that Conan Doyle was now going to help the Brotherhood: "See – the star rises in the East – it is the sign of the Polaires, the sign of the two interlaced triangles!"
On a very
different front from English Spiritualism, the Polaires also seem to have had
some connection with Krishnamurti, at least in their own opinion. Christian Bernadac, a novelist who wrote an
important book on Otto Rahn (see below), states simply that Krishnamurti was
"the Polaires' Messiah.” Maurice
Magre and Fernand Divoire had in fact contributed in 1928 and 1929 respectively
to the Cahiers de I'Etoile, a
Krishnamurti-centered publication; and many of the Polaires must have been
Theosophists, too. A member of the White
Eagle Lodge also hinted to me in 1987 that the Polaires had taken over the
Order of the Star, complete with its symbol, when Krishnamurti dissolved it on
During 1929 and
1930, the Polaires are said to have made excavations and archival researches in
the Cathar country: the region south of
It was surely not
mere chance that the Polaires' investigation coincided both in time and place
with that of Otto Rahn (1904-1939), which would result in his best-selling
book, Crusade against the Grail. Rahn, who was a member of the SS from 1936
and possibly long before, was largely responsible for the mythological complex
that associated the Cathars and Montségur
with the Holy Grail and its Castle. We
have already touched on this myth in summarizing Landig's Götzen gegen
One possible link
between Rahn and the Polaires was in the person of the Comtesse Pujol-Murat,
one of Rahn's main patrons in the Ariège,
who had been associated with the order." The elderly Maurice Magre also retired to the
region. Like Bélisse, Rahn regarded the French and Germans not as natural
enemies but as separated families. His
work describes a succession of noble peoples persecuted by the Roman Catholic
Church who include the Aryan Visigoths, the Albigenses, the Protestants
By the name of "Lucifer's Courtiers" I mean those who are of
Nordic blood and who, faithful to this blood, have chosen as the supreme object
of their quest for the Divine a Mount of
Assembly situated in the farthest
North, and certainly not
Returning to the
Polaires, we find them regrouping after Accomani's departure as a more popular
movement with an emphasis on practical magic, astrology, and herb-lore. By 1936 there were separate groups for men
and women in
Who should have
denounced the Polaires but their erstwhile friend, Jean Marquès-Rivière, who had now become an active collaborator with the German
Occupation? This former student of
Mahayana Buddhism organized an exhibition on Le Juif et la
developments of the Agarthian myth evoke more pity than terror. There is, for example, the story of Madeleine
V., born in 1889 to a comfortable French family. Like many visionaries, she experienced
angelic visitations even as a child of seven.
After marriage, motherhood, and the death of her husband, she gave
herself fervently to Catholic mysticism.
In about 1930, she became aware of René Guénon and his
circle, read all his books, and entered into a correspondence with Marcel
Clavelle (=Jean Reyor), Guénon's
chief agent in France after his move to Cairo.
After an exchange of about a thousand letters, Clavelle called a halt,
whereupon, in 1937, Madeleine went to
Madeleine's story, which is told in the medical doctoral thesis of Jean François Allilaire, might be read as a cautionary tale: but to whom? Her beliefs and interests are within a hair's breadth of Saint-Yves d'Alveydre's: they share the Catholic mysticism, the Agarthian myth, the political involvement, the twin-soul theme. Her feeling of supreme identity and her general happiness are not questioned by Dr. Allilaire: yet she is classified as insane, while Saint-Yves was merely eccentric. And what of Guénon, whose writings planted the seeds of delusion in an already sensitive head? Did not he, too, believe in the King of the World and in the uniqueness of his own mission, offering what his biographer Jean Robin called "the last chance of the West" before the end of the cycle?
Another case-study could be made of Robert Ernst Dickhoff, (1904?-) the self-styled "Ph.D., D.D., Mystic, Adept, Mason of High Degree, Sungma Red Lama, Sa-Ish-Ka-Te (Red Fire), Messenger of Buddha, Grand Lama of the White Lodge of Tibet, Section of New York," not forgetting "Ufologist. " The author of a book, Agharta (1951), Dickhoff at least cannot be accused of plagiarism from Pauwels and Bergier. His Agartha is "the Holy abode of the Buddhist world, located in the Sangpo Valley, China." We realize that we are scraping new depths when we read this:
Before Agharta became the recognized Holy City to be used by Buddhist Lamas it had to be cleansed of a remnant of Venus serpents masquerading in convenient human bodies, who had held the terminal city for many eons and from which stronghold they spread evil propaganda, designed to fight the Martian wizards' mentality, who also had selected human bodies via the principle of reincarnation.
I am told that the cleansing was done by 500 Lamas who were instructed by the Grand Lama to march on the stronghold of the Evil Master of evil masters, who called himself "King of the World."
We will meet these
serpents again when we come to
Whatever else one may say about Agartha, it does seem to have been a source of delusion, if not of certifiable insanity, to almost everyone who has written about it. Like the archetype of polar origins, to which it is closely linked, it seems to wield a power that is not always for the good. Here, at the end of this chapter I have just lifted the lid of a Pandora's Box into which we will have to peer more closely when we come to the theme of the hollow earth and the polar openings. But first we must scrutinize Agartha’s double, or ally, or deadly enemy (depending on who one listens to): the city or realm of Shambhala.
Since Shambhala is a Tibetan term, in order to define it one cannot possibly do better than to consult the Tibetans themselves. The present, Fourteenth Dalai Lama gave the following explanation in 1981 to a group undergoing initiation into the Kalachakra Tantra:
The Kalachakra Tantra [... ] has been intimately connected with the country of Shambhala
– its ninety-six districts, its kings, and retinue. Still, if you lay out a map and search for
Shambhala, it is not findable; rather, it seems to be a pure land which, except
for those whose karma and merit have ripened, cannot be immediately seen or
visited. As is the case, for example,
The Dalai Lama's
words indicate that Shambhala is not a physical place in any normal,
geographical understanding of the term.
The Kalachakra Tantra itself, is a system for
transforming mind and body into purity, is used by some of its numerous
initiates with the object of ensuring a future rebirth in the pure
One of the Dalai Lama's secretaries, Khamtul Jhamyang Thondup, contributed a description of Shambhala to a book by Andrew Tomas which fills out the picture a little more. "Its appearance," he says, "depends on one's spiritual status [... j therefore it is difficult to define it precisely." However, the Kalachakra teachings say that Shambhala is made from atoms of the five elements with their potentialities, projected into the center of unconditioned empty space. The result, as Thondup describes it, is the typical palace of fantasy, with pillars of precious gems, wish-fulfilling cows, and more, inhabited by gods and god-kings.
The Tibetan idea
of Shambhala conforms to the world view of Mahayana Buddhism. Thondup's words about its appearance being
dependent on one's spiritual status are a key to its comprehension. What is said of Shambhala is just as true of
Jambudvipa [the earth] always remains the same, yet one can see it in completely different ways; hence the parable that a beaker of water has a completely different appearance for three different kinds of beings, gods, men, and pretas [hungry ghosts]. For gods, there is pure nectar in it; for men, water; and for pretas, pus and blood.
Since to the
Buddhist all existence, even that of the gods in their heavens, is illusory,
the distinction between a "real" city that one can find on a map or
at the end of a road, and an "unreal" one like Shambhala, is not as
clear-cut as it seems to the materialist.
Neither is there so sharp a division between materiality and
immateriality, the world of stuff and the world of mind: for what is any city
but the result of hundreds of years of thought, on the part of millions of
people? It takes on the lineaments of
their creative ideas, be they noble or ignoble.
From the ultimate point of view, both
What is the experience of those pure enough, as the Dalai Lama might define it, to visit Shambhala and see for themselves what manner of place it is? To the naive visionary, perhaps it is fall of gem-encrusted halls where priceless treasures are piled in heaps: a place where there is no suffering, and every wish comes true. In Tibetan Tantric practice, the meditator may summon up such places in all their detail, and endow them with a sense of reality that may even become palpable to others. The Kalachakra Tantra itself is a very complex meditation of this kind. But the practitioner also knows that, however realistic the visionary experience, it is not ultimately real. If success is reached in the meditative creation of cities and landscapes, gods and demons, then the practitioner gains the corresponding capacity for the "de-creation" of the material, everyday world, that is, for the awareness that earthly cities, like Shambhala, are mind created illusions. Given these assumptions, it is thinkable that Shambhala has never existed as a physical place, but that the possibility, even the frequency, of visionary journeys there have made it a familiar locale to Tantric initiates. Perhaps there is an analogy with Ghostland, where we read of the narrator traveling while his soul slept hundreds of miles away to preside over gatherings of the Ellora Brotherhood in an Indian underground temple; and with Mission de l’Inde, in which Saint-Yves d'Alveydre said that he witnessed the life and ceremonies of subterranean Agartha, while we know that he never set foot outside Europe.
It is no wonder, then, that the Tibetans are impossible to pin down on the subject of Shambhala's geographical location. The Way to Shambhala is written in such as manner as to confuse rather than guide the profane pilgrim. The Panchen Lama III there gives several different versions of its geography, with details that hint clearly enough that it is a mythical world-in the real sense:
The people who live on the fringes of the snowy mountains have their bodies halved, such that on their right thighs they have male generative organs, but on their left, female ones. There too grow exclusively the paradise-trees of Jambudvipa. Then comes a wood, called Samantasubha, and beyond it stretches the great realm of Shambhala. [... ]
This great wonderland is quite circular, and its border is surrounded by a wreath of glaciers.
Yet if Shambhala
is now beyond the confines of materiality, it may not always have been so. Jeffrey Hopkins, writing his historical
introduction to the Dalai Lama's Commentary, explains that the Kalachakra
Tantra traditionally goes back to Gautama Buddha himself, who expounded it at
the request of Suchandra, "King of Shambhala." Subsequent kings are said to have kept the
Kalachakra initiation alive in
Moving now to
Western authorities, we find the Theosophists unanimous in identifying
Shambhala with a lost civilization of the
The last survivors of the fair child of the
Elsewhere she says that this sacred island, "according to belief, exists to the present hour; now, as an oasis surrounded by the dreadful wildernesses of the great Desert."
After Blavatsky's death and the schisms in the Theosophical Society, there were many who emulated her style of prehistory, based on sources inaccessible to the common scholar. Annie Besant and Charles W. Leadbeater, who together led the Adyar Theosophical Society in the first decades of our century, relied on Leadbeater's clairvoyance, which he would exercise in genial fashion, sitting comfortably around a table with his amanuenses, and discussing tricky points with Besant and others less psychically eloquent." In Man: Whence, How and Whither (1913), which catalogues the results of these historical investigations, "Shambhalla" appears as a city founded in about 70,000 BCE by the Manu (priest-king-founder) of the Aryan Race, on the shores of the Gobi Sea, with the White Island opposite it. There is no suggestion that it still exists, because after all the Masters of the Theosophical Society were well known to have their base in Shigatse, possibly in an esoteric school attached to the monastery headquarters of the Panchen Lama.
Another who found her own route to the "akashic records" was Alice A. Bailey, channel for one of the junior Theosophical Mahatrnas, Djhwal Khul. She, or rather he, wrote in one of their first books, Initiation, Human and Solar (1922):
The central home of this Hierarchy is at Shamballa, a centre in the Gobi desert, called in the ancient books the "White Island." It exists in etheric matter, and when the race of men on earth have developed etheric vision its location will be recognised and its reality admitted.
Bailey's Shambhala is the seat of the "Lord of the World," who has made the sacrifice (analogous to the Bodhisattva's vow) of remaining to watch over the evolution of men and devas until all have been "saved" or enlightened." This is perhaps the earliest use of the title "Lord of the World," referring to the spiritual being presiding over earth's evolution from an invisible but still geographical center. The comparison of place and function with René Guénon's Agartha and its "King of the World" is too obvious to need underlining. And in Alice Bailey one also finds the theme of this great initiate's annual appearance, just like that of Jacolliot's Brahmatma. No wonder, then, that some have simply equated Shambhala with Agartha. Nicholas Roerich, whom we will treat at length below, hints at this, while Alec MacLellan and Jean Angebert plainly assert the identity of the two.
Just as Agartha is believed by some to have a physical existence underground, so there are those who maintain that Shambhala is more than an etheric location on the surface of the earth. A Dr. Lao Tsin wrote in the Shanghai Times in 1925 that he had toured Shambhala, a warm valley in the wilderness oftibet, and seen its advanced laboratories, but had promised not to reveal its whereabouts. Such reports, hovering between fact and fancy, recall the Tibetan hideout of Talbot Mundy's novel Om, where the feminine avatar of a new age is being prepared; the Shangri-la of James Hilton's The Lost Horizon (1933); and the Asian center of Wilhelm Landig's Götzen gegen Thule.
One chooses the kind of Shambhala that one wants to believe in. But of all the varieties, that of Pauwels and Bergier is most at variance with the Tibetan model. It must have taken a peculiar perversity on the part of their source or informant to turn the materialistic Agartha of Saint-Yves, with its two-tongued race, inflatable mattresses, underground railroads, and threats to invade us, into the place of actionless meditation; and the pure land of Tibetan Tantra into the violent and earthly power-house. Among all their progeny, perhaps the ultimate degradation is that of Trevor Ravenscroft's The Spear of Destiny (1973), a bloodcurdling work of historical reinvention which makes Agartha and Shambhala into the centers of Luciferic and Ahrimanic influence, respectively. These are the twin sources of evil in the cosmology of Rudolf Steiner, who had little regard for the wisdom of Tibet. "The Initiates of Agarthi," writes Ravenscroft, "specialised in astral projection and sought to inspire false leadership in all civilizations in the world. The Adepts of Schamballah sought to foster the illusion of materialism and lead all aspects of human activity into the abyss.” Often one can detect the source of someone's Shambhala and Agartha theories simply through examining their spelling of the names: Ravenscroft evidently relied on Pauwels and Bergier.
On quite another
plane is the contribution to the Shambhala mythologem made in the 1920s and
1930s by the Roerich family: Nicholas, the painter and worker for world peace;
Nicholas Roerich saw in Shambhala the symbol of the coming age of world peace and enlightenment, and it is only just to say that he adapted what he learned at first hand in Mongolia to his own world-view. His expedition had a deep spiritual, even a magical intention – and a political one, too. But it never reached Lhasa. The Roerichs were forced by the temporizing of the Tibetan government to spend the winter of 1927-28 waiting for permission to proceed, during which several people and most of the animals died of exposure. It is no wonder that Roerich's writings show a contempt for the Lhasa government and even for the Dalai Lama XIII, balanced by sincere admiration of the exiled Panchen (or Tashi) Lama IX, the holder of the Kalachakra tradition.
Roerich writes of Shambhala:
Shambhala itself is the Holy Place, where the earthly world links with the highest states of consciousness. In the East they know that there exist two Shambhalas – an earthly and an invisible one. Many speculations have been made about the location of the earthly Shambhala. Certain indications put this place in the extreme North, explaining that the rays of Aurora Borealis are the rays of the invisible Shambhala.
But this is incorrect, he continues: Shambhala is only north in relation to India, being perhaps on the Pamir, in Turkestan, or in the Central Gobi.
Roerich found his
way into esotericism through the Theosophical Society, and he always remained a
friend to Madame Blavatsky and her Masters.
He regretted that the conception of the Great Mahatmas had become
separated from that of Shambhala, to which, he said, it is very close. He also associates it with the conceptions of
the subterranean city "Agharti," and of the White Island. Blavatsky's island refuge in the
Although he was ready to listen to such tales, and to believe that mysterious things are concealed underground, Roerich lacked the credulity of an Ossendowski concerning a subterranean Agartha. He comments that "although the legend [of the Chud] speaks of the time of the Tartar yoke, you can distinguish that the essential bases [sic] of the legend is far more ancient and you can distinguish the traces of the typical effects of migration. [... ] When you collect all the fairy-tales of lost and subterranean tribes, will you not have before you a full map of the great migrations?" When he found in the Altai mountains menhirs, stone circles, and alignments just like those of Britain and Brittany, and when he saw among the inhabitants features that could have been those of Frenchmen or Spaniards, Roerich concluded that the migration had in fact taken the best and most courageous of the Central Asian people on a journey to the shores of the Atlantic. Agharta, in short, was not of great interest to him except as a facet of the Shambhala myth.
The religion of Roerich's Shambhala, if one can call it that, centered around Fire. Nicholas connects it with the ancient cults of Fire and the Sun, whose Swastika symbol he found repeatedly carved on rocks and painted on tankas. He was certainly aware of the history of this symbol as associated with the Aryan Race. But it disturbed him very much to find it in the temples of the Bön-Po religion as well as in Buddhist ones – indeed, to find that this "black faith" reveres what he calls "some mysterious gods of Swastika." He tried to rationalize its usage by saying that the Bön-Po drew the symbol of Fire counter-clockwise, in the reverse direction from the Buddhists." But every serious study of the Swastika symbol shows that whenever it appears in ancient iconography, it turns indifferently either way.
Just as for Madame Blavatsky, Tibet's indigenous, pre-Buddhist religion of Bön-Po signified for Roerich the worst kind of sorcery and black magic. Even within Buddhism, the sympathies of these Theosophists were limited to the Yellow-Hat (Gelugpa or Reformed) sect to which the Dalai and Panchen Lamas belong, causing Blavatsky and her master K.H. to regard the Red-Hats as ministers of evil. With the best will in the world, then, one cannot altogether respect their interpretations of Tibetan religion. Had Roerich known the present Dalai Lama XIIV, he would surely not have been so quick to denigrate the office of the Dalai Lama in favor of the Panchen Lama;" but he could have known only of the ill-starred Dalai Lama XIII, whose sole achievement (as Narad Mani pointed out cynically in Chapter Seven) seems to have been to avoid getting murdered by the Chinese before his majority. Could Roerich and Blavatsky see the present-day flowering of Western Buddhism, of which they were pioneers, they might be more friendly to the red-hatted Karinapa lineage, and even to Bön-Po as assimilated by the Dzogchen Tantric school.
Like the Treatise on Cosmic Fire of Alice Bailey
and Djhwal Khul,
On 5 August 1927, in the Kukunor district, the Roerich party witnessed a classic UFO, twenty years before the "official" beginning of the phenomenon with Kenneth Arnold's sighting in 1947. Although it is now a commonplace in the better class of UFO literature, I give the fullest of his accounts here:
We all saw, in a direction from north to south, something big and shiny reflecting the sun, like a huge oval moving at great speed. Crossing our camp this thing changed in its direction from south to southwest. And we saw how it disappeared in the intense blue sky. We even had time to take our field glasses and saw quite distinctly an oval form with shiny surface, one side of which was brilliant from the sun.
The lama with the
party remarks: "A very good sign.
We are protected. Rigden-jyepo
himself is looking after us!" In
the Roerichs' books, Rigden-jyepo is the prophesied Lord of the New Era of
Shambhala, who is currently preparing an invincible army. He is the "Ruler of the World," and
none less than Maitreya, the Last Avatar who brings the Kali Yuga to an end and
opens the new Krita or Satya Yuga. The
Roerichs did not expect to have to wait long for this apocalyptic event:
There is a hint
that the Roerich Expedition had an active part to play in this changing of the
Ages. It concerns a Stone from a distant
star that belongs to Shambhala; it is likened to the lapsit exillis, the Grail Stone of Wolfram von Eschenbach's romance
Parzival (IX, 469), as also to the
Philosophers' Stone of Western alchemy. "The greater portion of this stone remains in Shambhala, while part of it is
circulating throughout the Earth, retaining its magnetic link with the main
stone.” The latter is said to be
"on the tower of the Rigden-jyepo," whence it radiates for the
benefit of humanity. Andrew Tomas, who
says that he heard from Professor [George] Roerich that the stone supposedly
came from Sirius, interprets the broad hints in
Urga, rather than Lhasa, seems to have been Roerich's choice for the future spiritual center when Shambhala becomes manifest on earth. When he passed through the city, he saw a site prepared for the chief Temple of Shambhala. He thereupon presented his painting "The Ruler of Shambhala" to the Mongolian Government, who undertook to build a shrine for it. One wonders, if the story of the fragment of stone is true, whether Urga was where Roerich surrendered it, and whether the shrine was intended to contain more than just a painting. That there were people in the Mongolian capital competent to discuss such matters is clear from George Roerich's account of an esoteric astrological college there, which also maintained the Kalachakra tradition.
Were there also people in the know within the Theosophical Society? A secondary theme of Talbot Mundy's Om, published in 1924 while the Roerich Expedition was making its preparations in Sikkim, was the return of a stolen fragment of the great green jade stone which resided in the secret Asiatic center. Mundy, a member of the Point Loma Theosophists, published several popular books in the 1920s and 1930s on themes which bridge the gap of which Roerich complained, between the idea of the Theosophical Masters and that of Shambhala. It is not within our scope to investigate the links between these and other personages of the 1920s, but it does seem that Theosophists, semi-Theosophists, and even anti-Theosophists like René Guénon, whatever their internal dissensions, constituted a group dedicated to the ideal of Shambhala taken in its broadest sense: that of reverence for a center in the Orient from which comes the impulse for the imminent renewal of humanity, and to a Lord, King, or Ruler of the World who is neither Christ nor Lucifer.
Their allegiance to a living, spiritual pole in Asia stands in stark contrast to the nostalgia of the Thuleans for their dead Arctic homeland. In this lies the vital difference between the universalism of Nicholas Roerich and other Theosophists, and the racism of Guido von List, Lanz von Liebenfels, Rudolf von Sebottendorff, and their Nazi pupils.
to the theme which opened this chapter, if one were to insist on contrasting
Shambhala with Agartha, our investigations would favor the contrary conclusion:
it is obviously Shambhala which is the "hidden city of
This contrast can
be seen with exemplary clarity in what is known as the "Shaver
Mystery." Richard Sharpe Shaver
(1910-1975) contributed from 1943 onwards a number of articles to Amazing Stories, a science-fiction magazine, that told of an underground cave-world inhabited
by "abandonderos": the cunning but degenerate remnant of a race which
had left the earth 12,000 or more years ago, and whom he held responsible for
all the evil experienced by us surface-dwellers. Shaver, who spent his life in menial jobs,
insisted that he had lived eight years in the caves as a prisoner of these
"deranged robots" or "Deros." He knew from experience of
their machinations, of the efforts by another underground race, the
"Teros," to counteract them, and much more that inevitably included
sex and violence – necessary ingredients in any pulp magazine. The editor of Amazing Stories was Ray Palmer, who immediately saw the commercial
potential of Shaver's stories and put them into acceptable prose. In due course he learned that Shaver had
spent years not in the caves, exactly, but in a mental hospital." In the meantime, Palmer had discovered Oahspe, the "New Bible"
revealed to John Ballou Newbrough in 1881, and found there many parallels with
Shaver's tales – only with the difference that in Oahspe, the scenario was not the inside of the earth, but the
astral world surrounding it. Without for
a moment denying the subjective reality of Shaver's experiences, Palmer decided
that they must have taken place in a state of psychic dissociation, and that
Shaver's vagrant consciousness had witnessed in the deros and their depravity
the "wandering spirits of darkness and evil," as Oahspe calls them, or the souls of the dead that dwell in the lower
astral realms of the spirit world." He did not add that "Teros" is given
as a name for protective psychic energy in
For all the intellectual gulf between Shaver and Palmer on the one hand, and Saint-Yves and Roerich on the other, one can see the same contrast in each pair of the material versus the immaterial explanation. Shaver was an adamant materialist and a disbeliever in everything psychic or occult. The sufferings of humanity were only explicable, and tolerable, to him when he could blame them on the Deros. Palmer, on the other hand, had other dimensions to his character: crippled as a child and nearly always in pain, he had become a success in worldly terms through his writing and editing, and had discovered the reality of intuition and the power of mind over matter.
Both types no doubt exist in Central Asia, as they existed in medieval Europe – for Dante himself surely did not understand his Inferno and Purgatorio in a literal, geographic sense. Many people are constitutionally incapable of imagining anything outside material reality, and the great religions have kindly made allowances for them in their cosmologies. Even those who are gifted, or afflicted, with the capacity of "astral travel" are not always exempt from this tendency: some, like Shaver and Saint-Yves, will refuse to take their visions in any but a terrestrial sense. Not knowing that whatever they experience is a projection of their own spiritual state, they will find not the Shambhala of purified consciousness, but only the deceptive and glamorous Agartha.
Finally, Shambhala furnishes an illuminating parallel to the various interpretations of the primordial Paradise and the Arctic homeland discussed in Chapters Two and Three. Some situate them on the physical earth, others in what to us is an immaterial or etheric state, attainable only by beings of like nature, or by humans exceedingly "rich in merit." The Way to Shambhala as the Dalai Lama has described it is precisely the return to that primordial condition, which, irrespective of outer conditions, brings about in the individual the transition from the Iron to the Golden Age.
If you wish to pursue some of the topics mentioned above, the following references are suggested.
On the topic of between-lives regression, Michael Newton’s books are recommended: Journey of Souls, Destiny of Souls, and Life between Lives Hypnotherapy for Spiritual Regression. Another book that summarizes the subject is Journey of the Soul by Brenda Davies. By the way, in Life between Lives Newton has some interesting observations on the subject of Atlantis. All methods of accessing nonphysical worlds are subject to inaccuracy and the creative desires and fears of the individual. Hypnotic regression has the added difficulty that the subject is highly receptive to suggestion. Newton’s comments follow:
Checking Conscious Interference
When I discussed taking the client down into their childhood earlier in the session, I stated that you must check to see if the subject actually feels and thinks they are the young person they once were, rather than consciously straining to remember earlier times and places. At that stage the issue is one of trance depth. However, when you reach a past life, another problem of recall may become evident to you. This has to do with those few clients who produce faulty memories due to outright conscious interference. This matter of tainted reports needs to be cleared up before you proceed into spiritual regression.
After regressing your subject into a past life, you must be watchful in checking to see if the client is recalling this life solely from historical details stored during their current lifetime. They may be using their imagination because of a conscious attraction to certain well-known events and familiar myths. Here bias enters the picture. I call this phenomenon the Atlantis Attraction because so many people are attracted to this story. You could first encounter this situation at intake when the client states, "I know we are going to find that I once lived in Atlantis." Their conviction centers around a desire to have once been part of a legendary early civilization on Earth.
There is nothing wrong with a client having conscious prior knowledge about world history because this may help in identifying scenes of the past. However, you should be aware that some aspects of the past, even those that are mythological, could be so attractive to the client that it drives memory and distorts recall. The use of client ideomotor signals to disrupt speech and thus disengage conscious thought interference is productive. I will illustrate an Atlan Attraction case as an example:
Facilitator: Where are you now?
Subject: I'm in Atlantis.
Facilitator: All right – let’s stop for a moment. I want you to take your time here and think carefully about what you have just told me. We won't speak to each other again until you have reviewed all your memories to verify that you are in Atlantis. After you have finished your examination of just where you are, I want you to notify me by raising the fingers of your right hand. I will not speak again until I see your fingers move.
Subject: (after a long pause and raising fingers) Oh ... I guess I was wrong about Atlantis, but I seem to be a native on a beautiful island in the middle of an ocean.
I will have more to say about Atlantis under the section Reviewing Past Life Incarnations, particularly with regard to hybrid souls.
Another term I use for faulty reporting is the Famous Person Syndrome. Clients in this category want to be famous people. Most past life practitioners have had a number of clients who stated they were famous people before further examination revealed this was not true. In one of my three Marilyn Monroe cases, my client subsequently found she was a housekeeper for the actress. This client's preconceptions were unraveled when I asked her to go back to a scene where other people were around Marilyn Monroe and I told her to identify each person, with my client as part of the scene.
Reviewing Past Life Incarnations
8. When was your first life on Earth?
familiarity with the history of world civilizations and their rise and fall is
invaluable. Your client might respond to
the "first life" question by describing membership in a Stone Age
tribe some 50,000 to 100,000 years ago in the Paleolithic era. Another client will see themselves in a
Neolithic period perhaps 5,000 to 10,000 years ago. Many clients remember their first life as
being in the early civilizations of
What about visitations to Earth by the souls of your clients who were in alien bodies? While you will have hybrid souls whose early physical incarnations were on other planets before coming to Earth, it is very rare to have a client who actually visited Earth in an alien body. They may have been engaged in some sort of colonization attempt early in our cultural history or just made a brief visit. Out of all my cases I have had only a handful of such people. I wrote an article about these anomalies in my practice for Fate magazine in the March 2001 issue.
When you ask the question, "Where are you during your first life on Earth?" be prepared for some clients to declare, "I'm in Atlantis." I have discussed the Atlantis Attraction Syndrome earlier in Part Three under Checking Conscious Interference, relating to preconceived bias. This "lost eighth continent" was thought to exist around 10,000 years ago. I am curious about this legend myself but I am also skeptical. While I must acknowledge an Atlantis could have existed on Earth in some form, it still falls under the heading of unproven mythology.
Without negating initial reactions from some clients about having a life in Atlantis, I want LBL therapists to know that it is quite possible you are dealing with a hybrid soul in these situations. I have many references to hybrids listed in Destiny of Souls. Clients who have the feeling their first lives were in Atlantis may actually be hybrid souls who had thousands of years of prior incarnations on a physical world resembling the geographic legend of Atlantis. These lives ended for the soul before they began coming to Earth. I have not found that we have intermittent lives on other planets between our Earth lives.
When working with
a hybrid soul, you could face psychological challenges. These people may not have made healthy
adjustments to life on Earth. Their
association with a human brain and the heavy energy density of the human body
could still be daunting. I have had
clients who feel their Earth body is alien.
The incidence of suicide among hybrids in their first lives on Earth is
higher than nonhybrids. If you do have a
hybrid soul as a client, there are certain basic questions you will want to ask
about their experience on an alien world:…. [End of
There is a massive literature on astral projection. One good book is Journeys out of the Body by Robert A. Monroe. A couple of “how to” books are Astral Travel for Beginners by Richard Webster and Astral Projection Plain & Simple: The Out-of-Body Experience by Osborne Phillips. And, of course, there are extensive resources on the Internet, such as MysticWeb (http://www.astralweb.org ) or Astral Pulse (http://www.astralpulse.com ).
With respect to vril / prana / kundalini, a source is Kundalini for Beginners by Ravindra Kumar – or any of the thousands of books on yoga.