Atlantis is a Western myth that many have written about. The source of all the stories about Atlantis are the Ancient Greeks. In Blavatsky’s words:
The story about Atlantis and all the traditions thereon were told, as all know, by Plato in his “Timæus and Critias.” Plato, when a child, had it from his grand-sire Critias, aged ninety, who in his youth had been told of it by Solon, his father Dropidas’ friend—Solon, one of the Grecian Seven Sages. No more reliable source could be found, we believe. (S.D. Vol. 2, p. 743)
All that which precedes was known to Plato, and to many others. But as no Initiate had the right to divulge and declare all he knew, posterity got only hints. Aiming more to instruct as a moralist than as a geographer and ethnologist or historian, the Greek philosopher merged the history of Atlantis, which covered several million years, into one event which he located on one comparatively small island 3000 stadia long by 2000 wide; (or about 350 miles by 200, which is about the size of Ireland), whereas the priests spoke of Atlantis as a continent vast as “all Asia and Lybia” put together. But, however altered in its general aspect, Plato’s narrative bears the impress of truth upon it. It was not he who invented it, at any rate, since Homer, who preceded him by many centuries, also speaks of the Atlantes (who are our Atlanteans) and of their island in his Odyssey. Therefore the tradition was older than the bard of Ulysses. (S.D. 2, p. 760, 761)
Blavatsky also connects Chinese and Indian mythology to the story (p. 326, 332, 365) and biological and geological evidence of her time (p. 778 etc.) The whole continent of Atlantis was submerged in water, or so the story goes. Blavatsky claims this cataclysm was the source of all stories of Deluges in mythology – including the Bible (idem p. 751).
Harder to believe is Blavatsky’s claim that the inhabitants of Atlantis were giants (p. 753). No physical remains survive, not only because the continent is gone beneath the sea, but also because they practiced cremation.
The reason for all the secrecy surrounding the topic was, again according to Blavatsky, the great spiritual knowledge and power of the Atlanteans (p. 764). In theosophical terminology the Atlanteans were the fourth root-race (p. 353). Now the concepts of races, rounds, root-races and so on are very hard to keep track of. Let’s for now just add that the present humanity is mostly of the 5th root-race and that the whole concept is more sociological and spiritual than physical and genetic.
Blavatsky compared her figures with those of geologists, but could not find agreement. She says:
This event, the destruction of the famous island of Ruta and the smaller one Daitya, which occurred 850,000 years ago in the later Pliocene times, must not be confounded with the submersion of the main continent of Atlantis during the Miocene period. Geologists cannot place the Miocene only so short a way back as 850,000 years; whatever they do, it is several million years ago that the main Atlantis perished. [fn, p. 314]
In this case Blavatsky was closer to the mark than the geologists of her time, about the Miocene period anyhow. Wikipedia has it that: “The Miocene is a geological epoch of the Neogene period and extends from about 23.03 to 5.33 million years before the present.”
One of the more curious aspects of the story of Atlantis is its name. Though Blavatsky makes it clear in The Secret Doctrine that this is not the original name of the continent, she still quotes a curious fact of linguistics associated with it:
how could the name of Atlanta itself originate with Plato at all? Atlante is not a Greek name, and its construction has nothing of the Grecian element in it. Brasseur de Bourbourg tried to demonstrate it years ago, and Baldwin, in his Prehistoric Nations and Ancient America, cites the former, who declares that “the words Atlas and Atlantic have no satisfactory etymology in any language known in Europe. They are not Greek, and cannot be referred to any known language of the Old World. But in the Nahuatl (or Toltec) language we find immediately the radical a, atl, which signifies water, war, and the top of the head. From this comes a series of words, such as atlan, or the border of or amid the water; from which we have the adjective Atlantic. We have also atlaca, to combat. . . . A city named Atlan existed when the continent was discovered by Columbus, at the entrance of the Gulf of Uraha, in Darien, with a good harbor. It is now reduced to an unimportant pueblo (village) named Aclo.” (Isis Unveiled, Vol. 1, p. 591; Baldwin: “Prehistoric Nations,” p. 179)
After all this evidence, though most of it more than a century old, a word about the spiritual story of Atlantis. Again, in the words of Blavatsky:
To continue the tradition, we have to add that the class of hierophants was divided into two distinct categories: those who were instructed by the “Sons of God,” of the island, and who were initiated in the divine doctrine of pure revelation, and others who inhabited the lost Atlantis — if such must be its name — and who, being of another race, were born with a sight which embraced all hidden things, and was independent of both distance and material obstacle. In short, they were the fourth race of men mentioned in the Popol-Vuh, whose sight was unlimited and who knew all things at once. They were, perhaps, what we would now term “natural-born mediums,” who neither struggled nor suffered to obtain their knowledge, nor did they acquire it at the price of any sacrifice. Therefore, while the former walked in the path of their divine instructors, and acquiring their knowledge by degrees, learned at the same time to discern the evil from the good, the born adepts of the Atlantis blindly followed the insinuations of the great and invisible “Dragon,” the King Thevetat (the Serpent of Genesis?). Thevetat had neither learned nor acquired knowledge, but, to borrow an expression of Dr. Wilder in relation to the tempting Serpent, he was “a sort of Socrates who knew without being initiated.” Thus, under the evil insinuations of their demon, Thevetat, the Atlantis-race became a nation of wicked magicians. In consequence of this, war was declared, the story of which would be too long to narrate; its substance may be found in the disfigured allegories of the race of Cain, the giants, and that of Noah and his righteous family. The conflict came to an end by the submersion of the Atlantis; which finds its imitation in the stories of the Babylonian and Mosaic flood: The giants and magicians “. . . and all flesh died . . . and every man.” All except Xisuthrus and Noah, who are substantially identical with the great Father of the Thlinkithians in the Popol-Vuh, or the sacred book of the Guatemaleans, which also tells of his escaping in a large boat, like the Hindu Noah — Vaiswasvata.
If we believe the tradition at all, we have to credit the further story that from the intermarrying of the progeny of the hierophants of the island and the descendants of the Atlantian Noah, sprang up a mixed race of righteous and wicked. On the one side the world had its Enochs, Moseses, Gautama-Buddhas, its numerous “Saviours,” and great hierophants; on the other hand, its “natural magicians” who, through lack of the restraining power of proper spiritual enlightenment, and because of weakness of physical and mental organizations, unintentionally perverted their gifts to evil purposes. Moses had no word of rebuke for those adepts in prophecy and other powers who had been instructed in the colleges of esoteric wisdom* mentioned in the Bible. His denunciations were reserved for such as either wittingly or otherwise debased the powers inherited from their Atlantian ancestors to the service of evil spirits, to the injury of humanity. His wrath was kindled against the spirit of Ob, not that of OD.
* 2 Kings, xxii. 14; 2 Chronicles, xxxiv. 22
[Isis Unveiled, Vol. 1, p. 592-594]
This is the start of a whole other theme in the work of Blavatsky: the difference between white and black magic. Or the difference between (unconsciously) selfish use of spiritual ability and consciously unselfish use of the same. Note that in this early work she believes that it is moral training combined with spiritual teachings that make for ‘son of God’, while mere following of natural mediumship is likely to lead to evil.