Remembering Utopia

Franz Hartmann, With the Adepts; An Adventure Among the Rosicrucians, Forward by R A. Gilbert. Ibis Press, 2003 (First edition 1887)

Shirley Andrews, Lemuria and Atlantis: Studying the Past to Survive the Future. Llewellyn, 2004.

There are some subjects of such perennial interest that they are always good for at least a few books a year, for instance biographies of Lord Byron or new theories about who killed President Kennedy. But whereas Byron's life story is essentially fixed, and even the wildest conspiracy theorists at least agree on the date and place of Kennedy's assassination, there are no constants in the story of Atlantis. Andrews is actually a conventionalist, in that she locates Atlantis in the Atlantic Ocean, rather than, say, the Indian Ocean, The South Pole, or the Watford Gap services off the Ml. and she accepts Edgar Cayce's date for the first destruction of the continent as 50,722 BC. Nevertheless, she describes Atlantean culture in much more feminist terms than was normal a few decades ago: "Women priestesses usually directed the temples' activities. This was partly due to the strong influence of Lunar fertility Goddesses at that time, and also because during its various civilizations, Atlantis, Atlantis was a matriarchal society".

In her bibliography, alongside old favourites such as Braghine's Shadow of Atlantis are more recent titles like Brodie's Healing Tones of Crystal Bowls, 1996. Otherwise her information comes mainly from women who remembered lives as Atlantean priestesses and healers evidently they were so advanced that there was no need for road-sweepers and lavatory cleaners.

Hartmann's novel is about a man who is permitted to visit a secret monastery of the Brothers of the Golden and Rosy Cross in the Alps. The superbeings that he meets are mostly men, but he is surprised to discover two women amongst them, one of whom proves to be Joan of Arc, her body having been miraculously reconstituted following her burning at the stake. She tells him:

"Your intuition told you right. It does not indeed very often happen that an individual attains adeptship while inhabiting a female organism, because such an organism is not as well adapted as a male one to develop energy and strength, and it is therefore frequently the case that those women who have far advanced on the road to adeptship must reincarnate in a male organism, before they can achieve the final result. Nevertheless exceptions are found." 

This seems sexist now but it was quite advanced for its time, when the vast majority of secret societies, real or imaginary, were entirely made up of men.

Basically both authors describe a Utopia, whether hidden in mountains of the mists of the past. they are much the same, though, in that people have philosophical beliefs and possess useful occult powers. the fact is, however, that an ideal society is easier to describe than to create. -- Gareth J Medwaym from Magonia 85, July 2004

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