|Cybernetic culture research unit|
Puzzling consistencies between rocks, fossils, and animal species found in South Asia and Eastern Africa led 19th Century palaeontologists and geologists to postulate a lost landmass that once connected the two now separated regions. This theory was vigorously supported by E. H. Haeckel, who used it to explain the distribution of Lemur-related species throughout Southern Africa, South and South-East Asia. On this basis, the English Zoologist Phillip L Sclater named the hypothetical continent Lemuria, or Land of the Lemurs. Lemurs are treated as relics, or biological remainders of a hypothetical continent: living ghosts of a lost world.
Haeckel's theoretical investment in Lemuria, however, went much further than this. He proposed that the invented continent was the probable cradle of the human race, speculating that it provided a solution to the darwinian mystery of the 'missing link' (the absence of immediately pre-human species from the fossil record). For Haeckel, Lemuria was the original home of man, the 'true Eden,' all traces of which had been submerged by its disappearance. He considered the biological unity of the human species to have since been lost (disintegrating into twelve distinct species).
As a scientific conjecture Lemuria has been buried by scientific progress. Not only have palaeontologists largely dispelled the problem of the missing link through additional finds, but the science of Plate Tectonics has also replaced the notion of 'sunken continents' with that of continental drift.
'When the theory of continental drift was developed, people realized that it and other more prosaic theories explained the distribution of animals, fossils, and plants better then lost continents. As a result, Lemuria was allowed to fade away into obscurity, while eclipsed by more realistic theories long before there were GEOSAT and SEASAT satellite data to demonstrate the fictional nature of Lemuria. - [SPHINX group].
Now bypassed by oecumenic rationality as a scientific fiction or an accidental myth, Lemuria sinks into obscure depths once again.
There are two sub-orders of primates, the anthropoids (consisting of monkeys, apes, and humans) and the prosimians, which include madagascan lemurs, asian lorises, australian galgoes (or bushbabies), and the tarsiers of the Philippines and Indonesia. The prosimians constitute a branch of evolution distinct from, and older than, the anthropoids. Outside Madagascar, competition from the anthropoids has driven all prosimians into a nocturnal mode of existence.
With the submergence of the Lemuria hypothesis, the presence of lemurs on Madagascar becomes puzzling. Lemurs are only 55 million years old, whilst Madagascar broke away African mainland 120 million years ago.
Lemurs have also come to serve as icons of ecological tragedy. In 1987, World Wildlife International declared lemurs to be the most seriously endangered group of primates in the world.
In the late 19th Century the conception of Lemuria was eagerly seized upon by occultists, who - like their scientific cousins - wove it into elaborate evolutionary and racial theories.
In The Secret Doctrine, a commentary on the Atlantean Book of Dzyan, H.P. Blavatsky describes Lemuria as the third in a succession of lost continents. It is preceded by Polarea and Hyperborea, and followed by Atlantis (which was built from a fragment of Western Lemuria). Atlantis immediately precedes the modern world, and two further continents are still to come. According to Theosophical orthodoxy, each such 'continent' is the geographical aspect of a spiritual epoch, providing a home for the series of seven 'Root Races.' The name of each lost continent is used ambiguously to designate both the core territory of the dominant root race of that age, and also for the overall distribution of terrestrial landmass during that period (in this latter respect it can even be seen as consistent with continental drift, and thus as more highly developed than the orginal scientifc conception).
L. Sprague de Camp describes Blavatsky's third root race, the "ape-like, hermaphroditic egg-laying Lemurians, some with four arms and some with an eye in the back of their heads, whose downfall was caused by their discovery of sex" [LC:58]. There is broad concensus amongst occultists that the rear-eye of the Lemurians persists vestigially as the human pineal gland.
W. Scott Elliot adds that the Lemurians had "huge feet, the heels of which stuck out so far they could as easily walk backwards as forwards." According to his account the Lemurians discovered sex during fourth sub-race, interbreeding with beasts, and producing the great apes. This behavior disgusted the spiritual Lhas who were supposed to incarnate into them, but now refused. The Venusians volunteered to take the place of the Lhas, and also taught the Lemurians various secrets (including those of metallurgy, weaving and agriculture).
Rudolf Steiner was also fascinated by the Lemurians, remarking that: "This Root-Race as a whole had not yet developed memory" [AL:68]. The "Lemurian was a born magician" [AL:73], whose body was less solid, plastic, and 'unsettled.'
More recently Lemuria has been increasingly merged into Churchward's lost pacific continent of Mu, drifting steadily eastwards until even parts of modern California have been assimilated to it.
Although Blavatsky credits Sclater as the source for the name Lemuria, it cannot have been lost upon her, or her fellow occultists, that Lemuria was a name for the land of the dead, or the Western Lands. The word Lemur is derived from Latin lemure, literally: shade of the dead. The Romans conceived the lemures as vampire-ghosts, propitiated by a festival in May. In this vein, Eliphas Levi writes of "Larvae and lemures, shadowy images of bodies which have lived and of those which have yet to come, issued from these vapours by myriads " [HM:126].
AL - Rudolf Steiner. Atlantis and Lemuria. Theosophical Publishing Society, 1911
HM - Eliphas Levi. History of Magic. WeiserBooks, 2001
LC - L. Sprague de Camp. Lost Continents ...