David Hatcher Childress popularized a fraudulent ancient pre-dynastic Egyptian society called the “Osirian Empire” that he frequently describes as existing in the Mediterranean basin before it filled up with water. In his Lost Civilizations of Atlantis (1996), he wrote that “The Osirian Civilization, according to esoteric tradition, was an advanced civilization contemporary with Atlantis” (p. 27). However, across thirty years of references to this culture, Childress never once explains his source for the “Osirian Empire” or “Osirian Civilization” other than “esoteric tradition.” I’ll be damned if I know what “esoteric tradition” he’s talking about, as I can find no trace of this supposed tradition anywhere but in his imagination.
The closest I can find is a nineteenth century volume by William Brown Galloway, a nineteenth century scholar whose specialty appears to have been trying to use science to prove the reality of the Bible (or maybe it was the other way around). Galloway wrote such books as The North Pole, the Great Ice Age, and the Deluge, which sought to reconcile the existence of the Ice Age with the book of Genesis. In his Egypt’s Record of Time to the Exodus of Israel, Critically Investigated (1869), Galloway seems to have attempted to link Assyria to Egypt by way of the god Osiris, whom he identified with the Biblical Nimrod, himself the subject of enormous speculation about lost civilizations in the nineteenth century.
According to Galloway, the islands of the Mediterranean were attached to Egypt as part of the “Athyrian or Aÿrian Empire” (p. 295). He also made this Aÿrian Empire the equivalent of the Aërian land found in Aeschylus, and that all of these words were “equivalent to Athyrian or Osirian” (p. 147). Then, on page 165 and again on 552, he explicitly equates Osirian and Assyrian; finally, we note than on 434 he states that the “Osirian empire,” now envisioned as pre-dynastic Egypt, can be understood from descriptions in the Book of Job, which he believed was written before the Exodus and thus described the oldest civilizations extant after the Flood. The whole mess seems to come from the coincidence that Osiris’ Egyptian name, Asar (Osiris is a Greek form of the name), sounds like the name Assyria. Linguistic coincidences were considered very important by speculative authors both then and today.
All of this ridiculous speculation seems to flow from a few sources from a few decades earlier. Algernon Herbert’s Nimrod: A Discourse on Certain Passages in History and Fable (1826-1830) was a monumental, four-volume work based on false premises. It aimed at proving biblical literalism and the truth of prophecy based on literal interpretations of ancient texts. More famously, Alexander Hislop’s The Two Babylons (1828; rev. ed. 1858; full book 1919) provided a conspiracy theory arguing that Catholicism was a veiled continuation of Babylonian worship of Nimrod, whom Hislop (1858) identified with Osiris (p. 454), thus suggesting a unity of the Babylonian and Egyptian empires in the pre-dynastic period, a unity that continues in the universal worship of a dying-and-rising god figure whose origins date back to early paganism.
I suppose this is an “esoteric tradition,” but mostly among biblical literalists and conspiracy theorists who repeat one another’s work, no matter how disconnected it is to the actual past. As for the sunken continents, advanced technology, and other weird claims Childress makes about the Osirian Empire—I have no idea. I guess the “tradition” is too “esoteric” even for me.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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