In this segment we explore the Lost Continent of Atlantis and its connection to Ancient Mexico, specifically, the location of the supposed lost Hall of Records of Atlantean civilization that was established in the final days of the fabled continent. Did this ancient library of forgotten wisdom really exist, and if so, where is it?
First, we have to explain the basic theories of Atlantis. Atlantis has been described as a large landmass and a series of adjacent interconnected islands that existed somewhere in what is now the Atlantic Ocean. It was the home of an advanced civilization that flourished for hundreds of years. Depending on which version of the Atlantis story one reads, the civilization either met with an environmental catastrophe – volcanoes, floods, a comet, etc. – or it sank beneath the waves because its technology became so advanced that its own people destroyed their home. In whichever version is promoted, there always seems to be a lesson for us in modern times. The first recorded account of Atlantis comes from the ancient Greek philosopher Plato in one of his dialogues written in 360 BC. Here is a quote from Plato himself:
“For it is related in our records how once upon a time your State stayed the course of a mighty host, which, starting from a distant point in the Atlantic ocean, was insolently advancing to attack the whole of Europe, and Asia to boot. For the ocean there was at that time navigable; for in front of the mouth which you Greeks call, as you say, ‘the pillars of Heracles,’ there lay an island which was larger than Libya and Asia together; and it was possible for the travelers of that time to cross from it to the other islands, and from the islands to the whole of the continent over against them which encompasses that veritable ocean. For all that we have here, lying within the mouth of which we speak, is evidently a haven having a narrow entrance; but that yonder is a real ocean, and the land surrounding it may most rightly be called, in the fullest and truest sense, a continent. Now in this island of Atlantis there existed a confederation of kings, of great and marvelous power, which held sway over all the island, and over many other islands also and parts of the continent.”
So, Plato puts Atlantis “beyond the Pillars of Hercules,” which is beyond what we call The Strait of Gibraltar, the narrow water passage connecting the Mediterranean Sea with the Atlantic. Plato recounts that it is larger than “Libya and Asia” together, which may mean that it was larger than modern-day northern Africa and Turkey, which is also called Asia Minor. We are dealing with, simply put, a large landmass which once existed in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and is now gone. It is unknown whether Plato is describing a place of myth or a real location. There are no other accounts of Atlantis in any other ancient texts or oral histories before Plato. That does not mean that Atlantis did not exist, but it does raise some interesting questions as to whether or not Plato was creating this older super-civilization to make a point, or several points, as was often the case in his dialogs.
Most scholars agree that all subsequent accounts of the lost continent build upon Plato’s original description. There have been many writers going back to early Medieval times who have built upon the Atlantis legend and have filled in the blanks, so as to flesh out the myth. Whether or not some of these earlier writers are basing Atlantis on other oral histories independent of Plato is unknown and unprovable.
Atlantis seemed to “rise again” in the popular imagination in the late 19th Century when two things were happening simultaneously: people were trying to understand the origins of the ancient civilizations of the Americas and there was an increase in an interest in mysticism in Europe and America. Since the arrival of the conquistadors there has always been speculation as to the starting point of the great civilizations of the New World, and even where the first people came from. Atlantis seemed to be a more popular theory in the 19th Century, and it was regarded much as the “ancient aliens” theories are today. The rise in mysticism and the popularity of Atlantis is a curious thing; it was in the late 1800s when various mediums and self-proclaimed prophets and psychics were starting to claim that they were making contact with entities or spirits during séances and readings who had once lived in Atlantis. Enter Edgar Cayce.
Edgar Cayce was born in 1877 in Kentucky, and early on he was seen as a “different” and highly intelligent child. By his early 20s Cayce was making predictions and doing psychic readings. He is known as “The Sleeping Prophet” because he would go into a trance during his readings and speak with spirits who would give him information. During his trances Cayce was said to access the Akashic Record. One of the first descriptions of the Akashic Record was in 1927 by mystic Alice Bailey in her book, Light of the Soul about The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. Bailey states:
“The akashic record is like an immense photographic film, registering all the desires and earth experiences of our planet. Those who perceive it will see pictured thereon: The life experiences of every human being since time began, the reactions to experience of the entire animal kingdom, the aggregation of the thought-forms of a karmic nature (based on desire) of every human unit throughout time. Herein lies the great deception of the records. Only a trained occultist can distinguish between actual experience and those astral pictures created by imagination and keen desire.”
So, Cacye was supposedly accessing the memories of Atlantis through this Akashic Record and had entities speak through him about their histories and experiences. In all of Cayce’s 14,000 readings, there were 700 of them about Atlantis. A foundation called the Association of Research and Enlightenment in Virginia Beach, Virginia has catalogued most of Cayce’s readings. In the 700 readings about Atlantis we find out a lot of the society of the civilization and about its destruction. The islanders apparently knew that a cataclysm was coming and prepared for it by storing the records of Atlantis in three different places on Earth. From a reading made in September of 1939 here are Cacye’s words:
“Before that we find the entity was in the Atlantean land, when there were the constructive forces as to the activities of the children of the Law of One – in all of those influences during the periods when the land was being broken up. We find the entity was as the leading influence for the considering of ways and means in which there would be the preserving of records, as well as ways, means and manners in which either the few or the numbers might be preserved from the destruction of the lands.
It would be well if this entity were to seek either of the three phases of the ways and means in which those records of the activities of individuals were preserved:
- the one in the Atlantean land that sank, which will rise and is rising again
- another in the place of the records that leadeth from the Sphinx to the hall of records, in the Egyptian land
- and another in the Aryan or Yucatan land, where the temple there is overshadowing same”
So here, Cayce is describing the three depositories of the records of Atlantis: On one of the outlying Atlantean islands that sank and would rise again, underneath the Great Sphinx in Egypt and somewhere in the Yucatan. This is very vague, but with time Cayce fine-tuned and clarified the Mexican connection to the fabled Hall of Records. In later readings the Sleeping Prophet told of an Atlantean nobleman from the house of Atlan named Iltar. Iltar knew of the eminent collapse of the only home he knew, so he fled with 10 other men in a boat and sailed to the modern northwest coast of the Yucatan, possibly landing on the shores of the present-day Mexican state of Campeche. He and the 10 men carried with them 32 stone tablets full of ancient wisdom and historical events. Here we will go to another reading of Cayce’s regarding Iltar’s arrival. He came and integrated
“with the activities of the people there, the development into a civilization that rose much in the same manner as that which had been in the Atlantean land.”
So, according to Cayce, the Atlanteans began to “help along” the ancient civilization of Mexico at the time, which would have been over 12,000 years ago. To continue with Cayce:
“The first temples that were erected by Iltar and his followers were destroyed at the period of change physically in the contours of the land.”
Some interpret this to mean that Iltar’s coastal settlement was destroyed by the eventual tidal waves that engulfed the area as a result of Atlantis’ sinking. So, the first Hall of Records and any other buildings were destroyed and the records were moved inland to safety. Cayce does not give too many details of where the new location could be, although he did say in a December 1933 reading that “altar stones had been uncovered in the past few months” and some have interpreted this to refer to a huge Maya site called Piedras Negras which is located in the far northwest corner of Guatemala where that country shares borders with the Mexican states of Campeche and Chiapas. The site is located on the Usumacinta River which is navigable from Mexico’s Gulf Coast this far inland. Between 1931 and 1939 the University of Pennsylvania conducted excavations of the site and it was very likely that Cayce had heard of their findings in the press at the time. A few curious things about this location is that the original name of the site in Maya was Yo’k’ib’ which means “Great Gateway.” There is also something found at Piedras Negras that is not found anywhere else in Ancient Mesoamerica: A giant altar in the shape of a feline paw, several meters long. For those who would wish to make an Egyptian connection, alas, this paw is sphinx-less.
Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment, the ARE, sent an expedition to Piedras Negras in April of 2004 to scout out possible locations of the Hall of Records. The site is accessible only by river and the 2004 expedition is documented on YouTube. The short documentary chronicles this brief expedition where no digging took place, only exploring for possible locations. If the lost library is there, it will take a lot of work to find it as only a fraction of one percent of Piedras Negras has been excavated and explored. Some believers in Cayce’s readings think that the Piedras Negras site is incorrect for a number of reasons, one being that the city doesn’t date back 12,000 years. The earliest habitation of the site dates back to just a few centuries BC. Others counter that perhaps the city grew up around the Hall of Records. There is evidence of a massive cave and tunnel system underneath the ruins and the ruins themselves were built on top of much older buildings. Those who think that the location is elsewhere point to skeletons found off the Caribbean coast of Mexico that have been dated by the University of California at Riverside to be 13,000 years old. Perhaps there was no need for Iltar to go so far inland and that Cayce’s followers made the mistake of making the Piedras Negras connection early on in the 1930s and refused to give it up in the face of new finds.
Some people may question the whole story of the lost Atlantean library as a hoax of a charlatan, of a man seeking publicity and who made up stories about things that could never be verified. Others point to Cayce’s amazing rate of accuracy for his predictions and for other things that came through in his readings. In those 14,000 trance-induced sessions Edgar Cayce supposedly predicted the stock market crash of 1929, World War II, the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls and a whole list of other things that have come to pass. So, if we assume that Atlantis was real and that Cayce was truly gifted, is there a surprise waiting for us in the jungles of Mexico in the form of ancient wisdom? As more and more becomes known about Ancient Mexico and more things are uncovered to add to our expanding knowledge of the area, perhaps one day we will be surprised and hear of an incredible discovery of mysterious stone tablets that give us a direct connection to the mythical Atlantis.
REFERENCES USED (Not a formal bibliography)
Atlantis by Edgar Cayce
The Yucatan Hall of Records by Greg Little
The Lost Hall of Records by John van Auken and Lora Little
The Maya: Edgar Cayce Readings by Carolyn Hatt
YouTube link to Association for Research and Enlightenment’s 2004 expedition of discovery to Piedras Negras: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wsKMBFDZ7YU