Chapter 14–(Egyptian Wisdom) Egypt, Atlantis and Sacred Architecture
The last two chapters of volume one delve into archaeological and anthropological aspects, presenting the theosophical theories of Atlantis for the first time.
1- Advanced Technology of Egypt 520
India, Ethiopia, Egypt 516 / Egyptian Hydraulics 517 / Egyptian Architecture 518 / Carthage 520 / Egyptian Labyrinth 523 / Egyptian Slave theory 525 / Ancient Electricity 526 / Egyptian Sophisticated Cosmetic Products 529 / Egyptian War Technology 530 / Egyptian Math and Geometry 531 / Egyptian Medicine 532 / Egyptian Knowledge attested by Ancients 533 / Egyptian Astronomy 533 / Persia 534 / Zoroaster 535 / Egyptian Textiles 536 / Egyptians Influenced Jewish Ritual 536 / Indian Magical Anaesthetics 540 / Egyptian Chemistry 542 / Egyptian Metallurgy 542 / Egyptian Music 544 / Egyptian Dentistry and Optometry 545
May we not assign as a reason for this remark the fact that until very recently nothing was known of Old India? That these two nations, India and Egypt, were akin? That they were the oldest in the group of nations; and that the Eastern Ethiopians — the mighty builders — had come from India as a matured people, bringing their civilization with them, and colonizing the perhaps unoccupied Egyptian territory? But we defer a more complete elaboration of this theme for our second volume.* 516
A curious argument, indeed. If the size and grandeur of public monuments are to serve to our posterity as a standard by which to approximately estimate the “progress of civilization” attained by their builders, it may be prudent, perhaps, for America, so proud of her alleged progress and freedom, to dwarf her buildings at once to one story. Otherwise, according to Professor Fiske’s theory, the archaeologists of A.D. 3877 will be applying to the “Ancient America” of 1877, the rule of Lewis — and say the ancient United States “may be considered as a great latifundium, or plantation, cultivated by the entire population, as the king’s (president’s) slaves.” Is it because the white-skinned Aryan races were never born “builders,” like the Eastern AEthiopians, or dark-skinned Caucasians,**** and, therefore, never able to compete with the latter in such colossal structures, that we must jump at the conclusion that these grandiose temples and pyramids could only have been erected under the whip of a merciless despot? Strange logic! It would really seem more prudent to hold to the “rigorous canons of criticism” laid down by Lewis and Grote, and honestly confess at once, that we really know little about these ancient nations, and that, except so far as purely hypothetical speculations go, unless we study in the same direction as the ancient priests did, we have as little chance in the future. We only know what they allowed the uninitiated to know, but the little we do learn of them by deduction, ought to be sufficient to assure us that, even in the nineteenth century, with all our claims to supremacy in arts and sciences, we are totally unable, we will not say to build anything like the monuments of Egypt, Hindustan, or Assyria, but even to rediscover the least of the ancient “lost arts.” Besides, Sir Gardner Wilkinson gives forcible expression to this view of the exhumed treasures of old, by adding that, “he can trace no primitive mode of life, no barbarous customs, but a sort of stationary civilization from the most remote periods.” Thus far, archaeology disagrees with geology, which affirms that the further they trace the remains of men, the more barbarous they find them. It is doubtful if geology has even yet exhausted the field of research afforded her in the caves, and the views of geologists, which are based upon present experience, may be radically modified, when they come to discover the remains of the ancestors of the people whom they now style the cave-dwellers. 525-26
2- The Near East, Ancient America and the Legend of Atlantis 545
Lost Inca City 547 / Mexican and Hindu Astronomy 548 / Arabian Nights and Odyssey 549 / The Near East and Ancient America 550 / Stonehenge 551 / Dragon and Sun Symbolism 551 / Biblical Genealogy 554 / The Near East and Central America 555 / Atlantis 557
Apart from the fact that this mysterious city has been seen from a great distance by daring travellers, there is no intrinsic improbability of its existence, for who can tell what became of the primitive people who fled before the rapacious brigands of Cortez and Pizarro? Dr. Tschuddi, in his work on Peru, tells us of an Indian legend that a train of 10,000 llamas, laden with gold to complete the unfortunate Inca’s ransom, was arrested in the Andes by the tidings of his death, and the enormous treasure was so effectually concealed that not a trace of it has ever been found. He, as well as Prescott and other writers, informs us that the Indians to this day preserve their ancient traditions and sacerdotal caste, and obey implicitly the orders of rulers chosen among themselves, while at the same time nominally Catholics and actually subject to the Peruvian authorities. Magical ceremonies practiced by their forefathers still prevail among them, and magical phenomena occur. So persistent are they in their loyalty to the past, that it seems impossible but that they should be in relations with some central source of authority which constantly supports and strengthens their faith, keeping it alive. May it not be that the sources of this undying faith lie in this mysterious city, with which they are in secret communication? Or must we think that all of the above is again but a “curious coincidence”? 547
This tradition of the Dragon and the Sun — occasionally replaced by the Moon — has awakened echoes in the remotest parts of the world. It may be accounted for with perfect readiness by the once universal heliolatrous religion. There was a time when Asia, Europe, Africa, and America were covered with the temples sacred to the sun and the dragons. The priests assumed the names of their deities, and thus the tradition of these spread like a net-work all over the globe: “Bel and the Dragon being uniformly coupled together, and the priest of the Ophite religion as uniformly assuming the name of his god.”*** But still, “if the original conception is natural and intelligible . . . and its occurrence need not be the result of any historical intercourse,” as Professor Muller tells us, the details are so strikingly similar that we cannot feel satisfied that the riddle is entirely solved. The origin of this universal symbolical worship being concealed in the night of time, we would have far more chance to arrive at the truth by tracing these traditions to their very source. And where is this source? Kircher places the origin of the Ophite and heliolatrous worship, the shape of conical monuments and the obelisks, with the Egyptian Hermes Trismegistus.* Where, then, except in Hermetic books, are we to seek for the desired information? Is it likely that modern authors can know more, or as much, of ancient myths and cults as the men who taught them to their contemporaries? Clearly two things are necessary: first, to find the missing books of Hermes; and second, the key by which to understand them, for reading is not sufficient. Failing in this, our savants are abandoned to unfruitful speculations, as for a like reason geographers waste their energies in a vain quest of the sources of the Nile. Truly the land of Egypt is another abode of mystery! 551
The perfect identity of the rites, ceremonies, traditions, and even the names of the deities, among the Mexicans and ancient Babylonians and Egyptians, are a sufficient proof of South America being peopled by a colony which mysteriously found its way across the Atlantic. When? at what period? History is silent on that point; but those who consider that there is no tradition, sanctified by ages, without a certain sediment of truth at the bottom of it, believe in the Atlantis-legend. There are, scattered throughout the world, a handful of thoughtful and solitary students, who pass their lives in obscurity, far from the rumors of the world, studying the great problems of the physical and spiritual universes. They have their secret records in which are preserved the fruits of the scholastic labors of the long line of recluses whose successors they are. The knowledge of their early ancestors, the sages of India, Babylonia, Nineveh, and the imperial Thebes; the legends and traditions commented upon by the masters of Solon, Pythagoras, and Plato, in the marble halls of Heliopolis and Sais; traditions which, in their days, already seemed to hardly glimmer from behind the foggy curtain of the past; — all this, and much more, is recorded on indestructible parchment, and passed with jealous care from one adept to another. These men believe the story of the Atlantis to be no fable, but maintain that at different epochs of the past huge islands, and even continents, existed where now there is but a wild waste of waters. In those submerged temples and libraries the archaeologist would find, could he but explore them, the materials for filling all the gaps that now exist in what we imagine is history. They say that at a remote epoch a traveller could traverse what is now the Atlantic Ocean, almost the entire distance by land, crossing in boats from one island to another, where narrow straits then existed. 557-58
3- Comparative Sacred Architecture
Universal Religion 560 / Comparative Sacred Architecture 561 /Origin of the Jewish People 567 / Universal Symbolism of Temple Arches 571 / Common Mathematical Proportions 572 / Archaeology and Philology 574
There never was, nor can there be more than one universal religion; for there can be but one truth concerning God. Like an immense chain whose upper end, the alpha, remains invisibly emanating from a Deity — in statu abscondito with every primitive theology — it encircles our globe in every direction; it leaves not even the darkest corner unvisited, before the other end, the omega, turns back on its way to be again received where it first emanated. On this divine chain was strung the exoteric symbology of every people. Their variety of form is powerless to affect their substance, and under their diverse ideal types of the universe of matter, symbolizing its vivifying principles, the uncorrupted immaterial image of the spirit of being guiding them is the same.
So far as human intellect can go in the ideal interpretation of the spiritual universe, its laws and powers, the last word was pronounced ages since; and, if the ideas of Plato can be simplified for the sake of easier comprehension, the spirit of their substance can neither be altered, nor removed without material damage to the truth. Let human brains submit themselves to torture for thousands of years to come; let theology perplex faith and mime it with the enforcing of incomprehensible dogmas in metaphysics; and science strengthen skepticism, by pulling down the tottering remains of spiritual intuition in mankind, with her demonstrations of its fallibility, eternal truth can never be destroyed. We find its last possible expression in our human language in the Persian Logos, the Honover, or the living manifested Word of God. The Zoroastrian Enoch-Verihe is identical with the Jewish “I am“; and the “Great Spirit” of the poor, untutored Indian, is the manifested Brahma of the Hindu philosopher. One of the latter, Tcharaka, a Hindu physician, who is said to have lived 5,000 years B.C., in his treatise on the origin of things, called Usa, thus beautifully expresses himself: “Our Earth is, like all the luminous bodies that surround us, one of the atoms of the immense Whole of which we show a slight conception by terming it — the Infinite.” 560-61
Thus is it that all the religious monuments of old, in whatever land or under whatever climate, are the expression of the same identical thoughts, the key to which is in the esoteric doctrine. It would be vain, without studying the latter, to seek to unriddle the mysteries enshrouded for centuries in the temples and ruins of Egypt and Assyria, or those of Central America, British Columbia, and the Nagkon-Wat of Cambodia. If each of these was built by a different nation; and neither nation had had intercourse with the others for ages, it is also certain that all were planned and built under the direct supervision of the priests. And the clergy of every nation, though practicing rites and ceremonies which may have differed externally, had evidently been initiated into the same traditional mysteries which were taught all over the world. 561