I am constantly amazed at the way Zecharia Sitchin’s ideas have so seeped into fringe culture that they appear in unexpected places. Today’s case in point is this bizarre rendering of a legend associated with Mt. Shasta in California from Dustin Naef, the author of two forthcoming books about the mountain and a one-time guest on a Travel Channel “mysteries” show. Here is how Naef presents the story in a recent Ancient Origins piece:
Ancient Native American legends speak of a fallen race of prehistoric giants who once inhabited the Pacific Coast of North America. According to the legend, their civilization was destroyed in a Great Flood. In the early twentieth century, a treasure-hunter prospecting in the Mount Shasta region claimed to have found evidence suggesting that the offspring of the Annunaki (sic)–also known as the Watchers and Nephilim–may have reached the shores of North America in a remote, prehistoric era. But before he could reveal the location of their “lost civilization”, he mysteriously vanished.
Wow. That is certainly a lot to unpack. We might as well start looking at the relationship between the various supernatural beings. In the Biblical and extra-biblical sources, the Nephilim (the giants) are the sons of the Sons of God, identified in 1 Enoch, 2 Enoch, and Jubilees as the Watchers. The Watchers are also the Fallen Angels from Genesis 6:4: “There were giants (Nephilim) in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” In Sitchin’s worldview, the Nephilim are “those who came down” and therefore an alien race he alleges to be the Sumerian DIN-GIR, “pure ones of the blazing rockets.” For him, the Watchers and the Nephilim are all Anunnaki, since he follows a lesser reading of Genesis 6:4 that equates the Sons of God and the Nephilim rather than reading the Nephilim as the mighty men of old, the children of the Sons of God. Naef has garbled this a bit and made the Hebraic mythological characters into children of the Mesopotamian ones.
But it should go without saying that Anunnaki, Watchers, and Nephilim are not part of Native American lore, nor do they appear in any ancient myths and legends of Mt. Shasta.
Now, as it happens, there is indeed a legend that Mt. Shasta was subject to a great flood. In the 1902 volume Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest, the story has only vague similarities to the Genesis flood that Naef would like us to see reflected in it. Instead, this story tells of a time when only animal people lived on the Earth, one of each species. Coyote angered a spirit who sent water to chase him up Mt. Shasta. All of the animals swam to its peak to escape the flood. The water subsided, but left behind lakes and marshes, thus explaining why there are inland bodies of water. The story, far from being unique to Mt. Shasta, is quite similar to flood stories told by other California Native groups going back to the Contact period. The tale, in other words, seems to be independent of its localization on the highest peak of any given region. James Frazer suggested that such stories might have been derived from attempts to explain the presence of shells and marine fossils atop hills and mountains in the area.
The status of “giant” legends on the Pacific Coast is a bit uncertain, though it seems that there was such a tradition at one time. According to Victorian writers, early missionaries reported that all up and down the Pacific Coast Native tribes had stories of giants. Some believed these to be inspired by Ice Age fossils, and others by exaggerations of early warfare. The problem is that the missionaries believed in Genesis 6:4 and tended to cast any story in Biblical terms. I wasn’t able, though, to find any specific legends that associated giants with Mt. Shasta prior to the 1930s.
Naef is a little cagey about who the “early twentieth century” treasure-hunter is, but a few paragraphs down he tells the story of J. C. Brown, who is presumably the man referenced. Brown alleged in the 1904 he had discovered the ruins of Lemuria beneath Mt. Shasta. His story, however, is almost certainly a fraud, but one that has a complex set of origins.
The most important source for understanding these claims are the books A Dweller on Two Planets (1905) by Frederick Oliver, which claimed that an outpost of Atlantis could be found under Mt. Shasta, and the novel Brotherhood of Mt. Shasta (1894) by Eugene E. Thomas, which placed Theosophy’s secret brotherhood of ascended Lemurian masters under the mountain. From this, our miserable friend Henry Spencer Lewis—the Rosicrucian who helped invent the myth of the Hall of Records under the Sphinx—argued that it was incontrovertible fact that the descendants of the sunken Lemuria continue to live beneath the mountain and perform strange rites on its peak in honor of America, their place of refuge. In a 1931 book on Lemuria, he added that Mt. Shasta saved the Lemurians from a great flood when their sinking continent collided with California and flooded all the land except for the mountain’s peak.
Anyway, during the 1930s, Rosicrucians and con artists battled for the tourism dollars of fans of the occult by making outlandish claims about Lemurian civilization on, around, and under the mountain. Lewis Spence, the occult writer and fringe historian, canonized they evidence-free assertions in his 1935 book The Problem of Lemuria. In 1949 Maurice Doreal—who borrowed shamelessly from H. P. Lovecraft and other weird writers for his supposedly antediluvian Emerald Tablets of Thoth—added to the myth that he had personally visited the city of the Atlanteans under Mt. Shasta and learned there that the Atlanteans keep evil Lemurians imprisoned on isolated islands in the Pacific, exactly as August Derleth imagined that the Elder Gods kept Cthulhu and his minions imprisoned in his revision of Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos.
This only touches on the mystical claims made for the mountain in the 1930s, which at times also included white-robed cults, the ghost of the Comte de Saint-Germain, Venusians, and other bizarre Theosophical mysteries.
All of this is background for the story of J. C. Brown. According to newspaper accounts from 1934, Brown really did exist and told people in Stockton, California that year that thirty years earlier, in 1904, he, too, had entered a secret underground realm beneath Mt. Shasta, where he encountered the skeletons of 27 giants ranging from six and a half to ten feet tall. These skeletons were entombed in a copper-lined cavern covered in unusual artifacts and unreadable hieroglyphs that Brown explicitly compared to the “Lemurian” art in the books of James Churchward. (He presumably identified Lemuria with Churchward’s Mu.) Brown, 79 years old in 1934, spent six weeks organizing a new expedition to Mt. Shasta to recover the giants, only to disappear while en route to the mountain. He took off the night before he promised to reveal the entrance to the giants’ cave. Detectives failed to find Brown. According to Abraham Joseph Mansfield, writing in 1979’s Golden Goddess of the Lemurians, Brown had been taken by the Lemurians and made their chief god, a title Mansfield himself received (!) after meeting with the Lemurians and reviewing their antediluvian tablets of wisdom, the so-called Plates of Time, inscribed—like those of Enoch and Hermes Trismegistus—to guard scientific secrets from destruction.
While this story has all of the hallmarks of a hoax, Naef takes it as proof of giants and thus of the Nephilim-Giants, who by the transitive property of fringe history prove the existence of Anunnaki space gods. (Other fringe writers assume Brown was silenced by nefarious forces.)
What’s fascinating to me is the way that New Agers and Rosicrucians and other assorted white folk have tried to turn Mt. Shasta into an ersatz Mt. Hermon. It doesn’t take much to see the close parallels between these stories and their Old World counterparts. The Atlanteans and Lemurians take the role of the Enochian Watchers in their various guises, but particularly in the form of the angelic Sons of Seth who live blissful and paradisiacal lives atop Mt. Hermon until tempted by the evil daughters of Cain. The Watchers are imprisoned beneath the Earth for their transgressions. Here, the Lemurians have a happy paradise atop Shasta, or are imprisoned beneath it. Like the Watchers, the Lemurians are punished by a great flood designed to wipe out their culture, and they, too, are the possessors of remarkable technology and ancient wisdom. Mansfield even gave them Enoch’s tablets (later, pillars) of wisdom!
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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