For millennia, travelers have told tales of fabulous lost worlds, and legends of hidden kingdoms. Many of these stories survive to this day. The first tales of unbelievable excursions to never before seen kingdoms and civilizations developed in an era when much was unknown, and all things seemed possible. From Plato’s story of Atlantis, to Mandeville’s tales of dog-headed men, the societies who ingested these legends found no good reasons to doubt their truth.
Even when Gulliver’s Travels was published in 1726, many parts of the world – such as Australia, Africa, South America and much of Asia – remained partly uncharted. As late as the mid-nineteenth century, “lost world” romances exploded via the tales of Jules Verne, H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle and H. G. Wells – even as it became clear that the locations in their stories never existed. Today, sadly, the allure of these romances have faded – but the attractive pull of these legends, though dormant, remains in our hearts and our collective psyche, ready to draw another generation towards a life of adventure.
Lemuria, or Mu, is a continent said to have been swallowed by the sea, and to now lie under the Indian or Pacific Ocean. The famous Theosophist Madame Blavatsky claimed that the Lemurians were ape-like giants that had the gift of telepathy. In a book called “The Lost Continent of Mu”, one writer claimed that all of mankind has its origins in Mu, which once extended from Hawaii to Easter Island and Fiji. Supposedly, it was completely destroyed 12,000 years ago by an enormous earthquake, and sank into the sea.
Today, the Stelle group in the USA claims to be descended from the Lemurians. According to this group, the Lemurians escaped from earth following the catastrophe, and they have since been guiding the destinies of chosen groups such as themselves.
The 16th century Spanish conquistadores searched the North Americas for the legendary seven Cities of Cibola – fabled for their wealth and brilliance. Cibola was possibly related to Aztlan, the land of seven caves from which the Aztecs reportedly emigrated to Mexico. Antonio de Mendoza, Viceroy of New Spain, sent the first expedition to find these lost cities in 1539, after a certain friar claimed to have glimpsed them on the horizon.
In 1540, a second expeditionary force was sent, under the command of Francisco de Coronado. Encountering the Hopi people, the Spaniards were told that the tribe had for centuries been awaiting the return of the White Brother, Pahana. The group of Spaniards explored as far as Texas, but could not find any of the fabled, golden cities. This legend is comparable to the one of El Dorado.
“Shambala” is the Sanskrit name for a mystical land, located between snowy mountains, with a golden city at its centre. It has been sought nearly everywhere. From the Gobi Desert to Tibet, Afghanistan to the Kun Lun Mountains of China, explorers have scoured – but in vain. Expeditions have sometimes disappeared without a trace. Apparently, one can fly over Shambala in an aircraft and still miss it, as its frontiers are carefully guarded and protected from being seen.
In 1928, Nicholas Roerich, the designer of Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring ballet, was told by a lama that Shambala belongs to another dimension, and that only those who are spiritually prepared will be able to find it – as it is lost, and found, entirely in the mind. Roerich also met a mysterious lama on the Darjeeling-Ghum road in India, and was later told by monks that this lama hailed from Shambala.