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John Michell, Zecharia Sitchin,
Drunvalo Melchizedek, and


[Note: the following is edited from posts that ran in the sacred landscape e-mail list in June 1998.]

In the 1970s, John Michell, the celebrated author of "The View Over Atlantis" and "Dimensions of Paradise," pointed the way toward a greater understanding and acceptance that sacred geometry was of ancient provenance. Too bad he didn't stick with a REAL ancient provenance. Due to his writings, more people know about these matters than ever would have otherwise...but more archaeologists have hardened their hearts against these matters than would have had Michell limited himself to the known world rather than the world of cosmological fantasy.

The application of Occam's Razor to John Michell's stubble is long overdue. Ancient Sumer is fascinating enough in its own right (and provides the base-6 number system all on its own), without one having to invent Atlantis.

Michell was a UFOlogist first, and only later an archaeological scholar. It is regrettable, but not surprising, that he carried his strong belief in (and desire for?) preternatural phenomena across into his research on the history of geometrical proportions in European sacred architecture. For him to have overlooked Atlantis would be for him to have in effect renounced the metaphysical underpinnings of his world view.

I suppose that in the end, each of us is limited by our own personal basic concept of reality and we each attempt to fit reality into a framework consistent with that concept, whatever it may be. This is essentialism in another guise: the notion that something pre-exists that imparts order to the world we know. In neo-Platonic essentialism, the framework consists of numerical and geometric "truths" and patterns; in Christian essentialism it consists of a religious structure and associated beliefs (e.g. "God is good; God is love").

Michell's essentialism -- which i could call "cultural essentialism" because it is not metaphysical in nature -- posits the pre-existence of a cosmology ("Atlantean science") that while "lost" is also the ideal to which we must strive. It is the "lostness" of the cosmology and the culture it represents that marks it as essentialist in nature. If Atlantis were real, it would have been a nice little late neolithic and early bronze age Mediterranean island culture, much like that of Crete, Cycladic Greece, or Malta. But that does not suit the essentialist cause. It is only as an essence, as a pre-existing archetype of a culture, that Atlantis assumes a magnitude and mythology weighty enough to satisfy the quasi-religious impulses that drive and have always driven essentialist thought.

Thus, despite my respect for Michell's diligent scholarship in regard to European sacred architecture, i maintain a mental barrier -- a barrier of incredulity -- that separates his writing from the works of reputable archaeologists. Intriguing though they are, his books are tainted by fantasy-mongering, and although i cannot ca him as an outright fraud along the lines of Erich von Daniken or Zecharia Sitchin, he is someone i only partially trust...and not someone i deem a "hero" or an exemplar in the pursuit of knowledge.

Speaking of John early June of 1998, Zecharia Sitchin appeared in my mailbox!

Zecharia Sitchin, Drunvalo Melchizedek, Elder Hunbatz Men, Joan Ocean and others are coming together for The Prophets Conference~Yucatan September 15-21 autumn equinox in and around Merida, Mexico.

Elder Hunbatz Men of the Maya has called together The Prophets Conference~Yucatan for this autumn equinox. The Mayan Calendar shows the importance of this particular time as incorporating the energies of universal harmony and the principles of evolution.

Many of us feel a great sense of urgency as time itself appears to be changing. We are experiencing a great deal more than some sort of millennial madness. We hear of changing electromagnetic fields and polar shifts. There is a growing experience of boundary dissolution, while at the same time, we have prophets coming forward from very ancient lineage, clearly telling us of cyclical completion. Increasing evidence is proving that we are recovering what has been lost: our knowledge and our identity.

Sitchin, for those who don't know him, is one of the "ancient astronaut" cohorts of Erich von Daniken and is himself a mentor of Graham Hancock, who derived his ideas as well from John Michell. This is not meant to tar Michell with the brush of von Daniken...unless, like me, one sees "Atlantis" and "Ancient Astronauts" as two sides of the same spurious coin.

Sitchin is so troubling to archaeologists that an entire web site is devoted to debunking his theories, one of which is crucial to an understanding of contemporary spurious Egyptology, namely, the hypothesis that Khufu (Cheops) did NOT build the Great Pyramid at Giza but that it was built millennia earlier by "ancient astronauts." In the light of 19th century discoveries of building blocks marked by work-crews with the name "Khufu" -- marks that indicate that Khufu was the guy who commissioned the pyramid -- Sitchin has proposed a sort of conspiracy theory, that those workmen's marks are FORGERIES perpetrated in Victorian times by someone with a vested interest in promoting the belief that Khufu built the pyramid.

Whether they follow Sitchin's "ancient astronaut" line or follow Edgar Cayce's Atlantean imperative into pyramid revisionism, writers whose theories depend upon a stupendously early date for the carving of the Sphinx at Giza or a non-funereal function for the Great Pyramid usually cite Sitchin as their authority.

And from there, as Graham Hancock so adroitly demonstrates, it is a short metaphysical hop, skip, and jump to Charles Hapgood and the spectre of .... Crustal Displacement.

And sure enough, the folks putting that Sitchin-headlined conference together tell us that they "hear of changing electromagnetic fields and polar shifts."

You see, when you buy the Atlantean ball of wax, you have to buy the WHOLE ball of wax as it as presently constituted. This is not the 1970s model so many of us knew and loved (or at least knew) under the aegis of John Michell -- the old Atlantean Ball of Wax with Secret Wisdom and the Fire Crystal and The Hall of Records and The Recovery of Lost Knowledge.

No, this is the New, Improved, Flaky-Crust Atlantean Ball of Wax, with Lemon-Freshened Polar Shifts! You get the same Secret Wisdom, Fire Crystal, Hall of Records, and Recovery of Lost Knowledge you've always had, but now, thanks to the magic of Elder Hunbatz Men of the Maya, that pokey-slow Aquarian Age you were waiting for has been given a speedy new processor for the Nineties. That's right! This time we're bringing you the Actual End of the World!!!

Now, somebody stop me before i prophesy again!

[Here follows Dan Washburn's commentary and my reply to him.]:

> zecharia sitchin doesn't bother me, since I have never read his 
> books, and I have too much respect for John Michell to be bothered 
> by any of his surrealist adventures,

Well said, and i admire your choice of words here!

> but Drunvalo Melchizedek, now there is
> someone who gets to me.

Ah! I sense a rant coming on! How wonderful. I had never heard of this man before. Let's hear it -- all the dirt!

> I'm interested in sacred geometry, of course, so I recently attended
> a Flower of Life preview workshop.  We watched a tape of
> Drunvalo being interviewed for three and a half hours.
> I could almost swallow that two angels appeared to him, one green
> and one purple, as I recall, but balked at believing that they gave
> him the telephone numbers of a whole slew of contemporary
> spiritual masters that he then went and studied with.  Angels that
> give out phone numbers are few and far between.

YOW! Double yow with sprinkles on top! Hey, at least i label my dreams as dreams. Is this guy a Blavatskyist? Those "contemporary masters" sure sound like a modern version of H.P.B.'s schtick!

> Are you aware that the little gray saucer people are stealing our
> sexual fluids in order to perpetuate their race?

Really? Wow! Mulder, this sounds X-File. Seriously, though, i see a trend here -- this is another idea Drunvalo has borrowed. The constellation of images concerning an impotent or sterile alien race stealing our sexual fluids or using Earth's women as surrogate mothers or turning Earth's men into sperm donors for the perpetuation of their race appeared as plot premises in numerous science fiction stories in the 1950s. These story-lines, in various permutations, entered UFOlogy shortly thereafter. Barrance C. Lespine might know who first proposed them as a serious UFOlogical concepts. Do they date back to that woman (sorry, i forget her name) whose car was stopped on a lonely road and so forth and so on? Were they first published by the UFOlogist Whitley Strieber? The history of the evolution of UFO beliefs would make for a good scholarly book.

> That dolphins are an advanced spiritual species that allow themselves
> to be captured by us in acts of missionary self-sacrifice?

Well, this borrowing of Drunvalo's i do know the source for. This idea surfaced shortly after John Lilly began publishing his dolphin intelligence research in the 1960s; Lilly himself may have promoted a prototype version of this story at one point, around the time he began taking psychedelics and doing sensory deprivation sessions in dolphin tanks. (Ah, John Lilly -- now there was a guy who REALLY went off the deep end. :-)) By the mid-1970s, the concept of dolphins "volunteering" to be captured in order to "work with" or "heal" human beings had a great deal of popular currency in fringe-science circles.

> That the earth power grid of sacred sites was finally completed in the
> late eighties?

This may be unique to Drunvalo; i've never heard of it before. I kinda like it. Not much else was happening in the late eighties, that's for sure.

> That the next leap in human evolution is now taking place in
> China where children with remarkable psychic powers are
> being born?

Back to Blavatsky, or more properly, to her disciple Annie Besant. Besant and her collaborator, the criminal pederast C.W. Leadbeater, ran the same story-line back in the early 1900s with the discovery of various psychic kids in India, including, but not limited to, the "coming World teacher" J. Krishnamurti.

For details on this scam, read "Madame Blavatsky's Baboon," a wonderful book exposing the "behind the curtain" shenanigins in late 19th and early 20th century theosophy and occultism in England, India, the United States, and Australia. What the book reveals is that there were several understudy Indian boys, including Krishnamurti's brother Nityananda Krishnamurti, waiting in the wings while the "coming World teacher" story went through its try-out stages. In addition to being promoted as psychic wonders and ascended masters and lord knows what-all, these boys, some of them more or less purchased from their parents, were utilized by Leadbeater as sex-victims.

Note that Drunvalo's mysterious Chinese kids and Besant's mysterious Indian kids have one thing in common -- at the time the story was promulgated, they came from an inaccessible region of the world. India is now too well travelled to serve as the locale for such a fabulous tale; China will still do, but only barely. Next? The psychic children of the Amazon rain forest, of course!

> We are the last generation that will need to
> reincarnate, this new humanity being beyond all that.

I have never heard this one before. It is millennialist, of course, but is it unique to Drunvalo, or does it derive from previous Theosophical thought?

> Did you know that all your problems stemmed from ancient Atlantis,
> where they screwed around with machinery based on the
> sacred geometry of the Flower of Life and succeeded in
> crashing us from a higher level down to our current dismal
> plight in that dimensional sub-basement, the physical plane?

Hmm. This is a variant of the old 1960s Atlantean Fire Crystal story-line, with a smattering of Scientology thrown in.

The Scientology angle concerns the fall from a non-corporeal civilization into the "MEST ( = messed = Matter Energy Space Time) Universe" through misunderstanding of cosmological principles.

Drunvalo's Atlantean angle substitutes sacred geometry for the nuclear physics of the Atlantean Fire Crystal story, which was floated by disciples of Edgar Cayce in the 1960s. This was a uniquely Cold War take on the Fall of Atlantis. In it, the Atlanteans were master alchemists and nuclear physicists who had learned the secrets of the transformation of matter into energy. To this end they powered the entire Island with three Fire Crystals in which some form of thermonuclear reaction took place. One of the Fire Crystals got out of hand and went wild, starting a chain reaction that sank the island. The parallel to the dangers of nuclear energy was clear.

In 1966 or '67 i actually met a man who lived in Sunnywale, California (then just beginning its dismal conversion from the orchards of Santa Clara Valley to the high-tech industries of Silicon Valley) who claimed to be building a working replica of the Atlantean Fire Crystal in his garage. I SAW the thing. It involved a lot of large-bore copper rods. He needed money to complete the project. It would be finished within two years. There was much mysterioso whispering and warning among his fellow Cayce-ites of the danger should he succeed. The next California earthquake might be HIS doing. Et cetera.

> In other words, we were drowning in drivel.  Can you believe
> that most of the people who attended this preview actually
> signed up for the workshop?

Dan, i can believe ANYTHING when it comes to people's gullibility.

> Its a wonder that he didn't promise that they would be transported
> to higher levels of being by a space ship lurking behind the
> Hale-Bopp comet.  No, actually, you have to build your own
> Mer-ka-ba vehicle via meditation before you can be physically
> transported to higher dimensions.

Oh, great!

> Just how dangerous is this?  After Ron Hubbard and Rajnesh, not
> to mention Jonesville, I'm not in the mood to put up with psychotic
> pseudo-spirituality.

Well, i personally find it highly entertaining. I figure that the followers of these spiritual scamsters (with the exception of children, like Leadbeater's victims or the kids at Jonestown) are more or less self-selected as victims. I call them "self-basting turkeys," if you get my drift. I do not think the perpetrators are psychotic, for the most part, although a certain number of their disciples are.

Perhaps, as a fiction editor -- working in the highly improbable fictional world of comic books, no less -- i am more inclined than you to view these cult-beliefs as plot-lines and story-arcs written by the leaders and consumed as "entertainment" by their followers. I look for antecedents and variations on the themes. I applaud novelty and inventiveness in the scripting. I marvel at the credulity of the disciples.

I am not entirely removed from an emotional response to these stories -- but the emotions are editorial, not personal. I do acknowledge with regret that i lost several very close friends to Scientology... but i try to place this in perspective: I have also lost friends to the Vietnam War, to accidental drug overdoses, and to disease. I have even lost friends i thought i would never lose due to conflicting values and life-paths.

Is the friend who enters a UFO-based cult any less lost to me than the friend who tells me that his only goal is the pursuit of money and who has forsworn his family members and mine in pursuit of that goal? They have both bought into a story-line i cannot endorse. They have both de-selected themselves from my circle of care and concern. The plot-lines, the mythologies that sucked their brains out -- whether UFOlogy or capitalism -- are equally dangerous to them and humourously uninviting to me. In the end, each is as lost to me as the other.

> Hence to anyone who is involved with Drunvalo Melchizedek I say
> keep a firm grip on your moral principles, your sanity, and your
> wallet. Be prepared to bail out at a moment's notice.

Well, there, you see, we are not so distant in our opinions. Moral principles first...sanity a distant third (Just kidding; i take a lot of chiding for being so "moral" and for caring so little about cash.)

> Further, I resent his co-opting the words Sacred Geometry and Merkaba.

Yeah. I can understand that. It's grotesque. It's creepy. It is bad.

> Sacred Geometry is sacred and shouldn't be associated with idiocy.

LOL. Spoken like a true moral philosopher.

> Merkabah Mysticism is the form that Jewish mysticism took for the
> thousand years before the rise of the Kabbalah around 1200 AD.
> The Merkabah is the throne-chariot of God revealed by Ezekiel.
> It is not a 50 foot aura emanating from the center of the body 
> bearing a name made up of Egyptian words -- mer ka ba.

Whoa. Drunvalo claims that the Merkabah is EGYPTIAN?! How droll.That makes him one of the many hermeticists who try to de-Judaicize Jewish mysticism and give it Gentile roots.

I lump all these folks together under the loose title "British Israelites" -- a name i got from a 1920s group who promoted the spurious notion that the Brits were one of the "ten lost tribes" of Israel, and hence God's Chosen People. All "British Israelite" fantasies, no matter how elaborate, share one core idea: "The Jews are not the Jews."

Some claim that the Jews stole their religious ideas (e.g. the kabbalah, merkaba mysticism, etc.) from a Gentile race (e.g. Sumerians, Greeks, Egyptians, Celts, or Indo-Europeans).

Others claim that their OWN Gentile race (e.g. British, Celtic, African) is the "real" Jewish race, while the Semites as imposters.

In the end, no matter how you cut it, all these fantasies boil down to the one predictably anti-Semitic core-claim: "The Jews are not the Jews."

Sorry for going on so long this opened a big box of ideas and they all came tumbling out.


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