In the 1830s, the Rev. John Bathurst Deane wrote a book called Worship of the Serpent which aimed to catalog the world’s serpent worshiping cults across time and space in order to show that all of them were corruptions of the original story of Adam and Eve. Deane’s enduring if not exactly endearing contribution to fringe studies was his conviction that a single organizing pattern lay behind all the various manifestations of serpent worship across time and space.
Half a century later, Hargrave Jennings, the Rosicrucian Freemason, published an anonymous book called Ophiolatreia (the Greek word for serpent worship) rehashing Deane’s material but casting it in a new framework: penis worship. For Jennings, the underlying framework behind all serpent worship was horniness, specifically the desire to symbolize the penis as a serpent and thus to worship its generative power. Again, the important contribution of this influential book was the claim that cultures from Mexico to India, from England to Greece, shared one exceedingly ancient common source for their serpent stories.
Robert E. Howard took these ideas to their logical conclusion, creating the Serpent Men for his King Kull tales. These Serpent Men lived before the dinosaurs but were driven to near extinction. To save themselves, they infiltrated human society (for they could use magical powers to appear as human beings) and ruled in secret behind the guise of a serpent-worshiping religion until King Kull of Atlantis finally defeated them, sending them (of course) to underground caverns here in the United States. Howard’s Serpent Men drew very clearly on Howard’s understanding of ancient history as well as Theosophy. When Mattel transformed Howard’s sword-and-sorcery tales of Conan and Kull into He-Man, the Serpent Men became the Snake Men of King Hiss, who are pretty much the same as in Howard’s version.
On January 29, 1934, the Los Angeles Times reported that a geophysical engineer named G. Warren Shufelt claimed to have found the Serpent Men’s underground caves near L.A. The engineer attributed them to lizard people of Hopi legend. Skeptic Brian Dunning investigated this story a few years ago, turning up nothing in Hopi myth. That’s because the Hopi—who do not live in California—aren’t the source. The real source is the Zuni, a California tribe. They believe their ancestors were lizard-people from underground caves:
Men and creatures were more alike then than now. Our fathers were black, like the caves they came from; their skins were cold and scaly like those of mud creatures; their eyes were goggled like an owl’s; their ears were like those of cave bats; their feet were webbed like those of walkers in wet and soft places; they had tails, long or short, as they were old or young. Men crouched when they walked, or crawled along the ground like lizards. They feared to walk straight, but crouched as before time they had in their cave worlds, that they might not stumble or fall in the uncertain light.
Source: Katharine Berry Judson (ed.), Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest (Chicago: A. C. McClurg & Co., 1912), 24.
The idea resurfaced in 1983 with the TV miniseries V and its reptilian aliens in human skin; only this time the reptilians came from above rather than below.
Then, in the 1990s, David Icke simply decided to take the whole sorry mess and pass it off as “fact,” accusing everyone from the Queen of England to the Bush family of being reptilian aliens. The fictional origins of the story were forgotten, and today Icke’s reptilian conspiracy theory ranks as one of the most widely-believed fringe theories.
Skeptics blamed V for Icke’s ideas, but as I’ve shown, they have a long history of bouncing back and forth between fiction and nonfiction. Icke was probably inspired by several sources, not just one, seeing in the various, mutually-dependent versions of the serpent narrative false confirmation of a real serpent race behind the stories.
So, we come down to Roberts and his Secret History of the Reptilians, which rehashes the same material but from a perspective drawn from Roberts’ own Christian seminary background. This ironically takes us almost full circle, back to Dean and his Eden serpent. The essential point, however, that all serpent stories derive from a common source and that humanity was duped through fraud into worshiping the serpent as a false idol hasn’t changed from Deane down to the present. The only thing that changes is who is accused of being behind the conspiracy—corrupt pagans, penis-worshipers, ascended masters from Lemuria, underground reptile-people, or extraterrestrials.