If anyone is interested—and I can’t imagine many will be—Richard Thornton published his latest screed attempting to vindicate the episode of America Unearthed on which he appeared nearly two years ago. In it, he complains about “those who had set up web sites to attack” America Unearthed and the tyranny of the cabal of professors who are suppressing the truth about the Maya, this time in terms of their supposed visits to Miami. Thornton is particularly upset this week about scholarly rejection of the claim that the Mayaimi, who gave their name to Miami, were really Maya based on a shared syllable. He falsely claims that people believe Mayaimi to mean “Big Water” (rather than “Maya”) because of Wikipedia:
Another clue was that Wikipedia cited as its authoritative source on the translation of Mayaimi, a 1956 publication by the Florida Geological Survey, entitled, “Florida Place-Names of Indian Derivation.” Such booklets are notorious for using folklore to translate Native America words. Florida’s version is much more accurate than most because the majority of Florida’s Native American place names are derived from either the Itsate-Creek or Muskogee-Creek languages. Speakers of both languages still live in Florida. However, Mayaimi is not a Creek word. The Florida booklet based its translation on folklore. Because Lake Okeechobee gets its modern name from the Itstate-Creek words meaning “Big Water” someone the past speculated that the original name of the lake, Mayami, also meant “Big Water.”
This is wrong. The reason scholars believe Mayaimi means “big water” is because that’s what Hernando d’Escalante Fontenada reported when he visited and talked to the people in question in 1575: “They are masters of a large district of country, as far as a town they call Guacata, on the Lake of Mayaimi, which is called Mayaimi because it is very large.” Granted, this is not definitive proof, but it is more than simply folklore.
I believe with this piece Thornton has now written a separate article covering each segment of that long-ago episode of America Unearthed.
So let’s look at something completely different. Over at Graham Hancock’s website, his current author of the month is Avery Morrow, the author of The Sacred Science of Ancient Japan, and a graduate student with an interest in what he calls “parahistory.” Morrow introduces some of the strange sidelights of Japanese mythology, but he plays coy about whether we are to believe that the texts he discusses—and which he says are of “dubious provenance”—should be considered anything other than modern forgeries.
The most important of these texts are the Takenouchi Documents, which were publicized in 1928 but were supposedly written in ancient times. According to the documents, Japan was a sort of Asian Atlantis, with an ancient culture that served as the font for all world culture. Religious leaders from around the world came to Japan to learn spiritual truths, and Jesus himself died in Japan. Moses flew to Japan in something resembling an airship. At the time that the documents came to light, Japan was beginning its militaristic expansion overseas (and had indeed been the colonizer of Korea since 1910 and the occupying power of the ex-German Pacific mandates since 1919). By sheer coincidence, the documents just happened to provide an ideological and mythological rationalization for Japan’s right to rule over the rest of the world by force of its superior culture and world-historical position, according to Prof. Ichiro Yamane.
I’m more intrigued by the Hotsuma Tsutaye, an archaizing epic poem written in a faux version of ancient Japanese and intended to be passed off as a composition from 100 CE. Manuscripts date back to the eighteenth century and offers a rationalized history very similar to Donnelly’s Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in which the gods were really human kings of a fabulous ancient civilization. It’s intriguing that the composition seems to date to the same time that Western mythologists like the Abbé Banier were creating similar rationalized accounts of Greek mythology.
This is all fine and dandy, but what Morrow doesn’t discuss in his brief article (though I’m sure it’s covered in his book) is that the Takenouchi Documents’ parallels to James Churchward’s idea of Mu (published just two years earlier) led the Mahikari cult to fold the two together and declare that Japan was the remnant of Mu and used this claim to support the idea that the cult’s leader, Okada, was possessed of not just ancient wisdom, but the purest of all ancient wisdom. The cult formed in 1963 on the claim that while experiencing a fever in 1959 Okada went to the spirit realm and met a god who was doing laundry. He would later claim that the “yellow” race was earth’s first and dominant people, and that the pyramids of the earth were erected in honor of the ancient pyramids of Japanese-dominated Mu, which had a nuclear war with Atlantis!
It’s rather hard not to see Mu’s nuclear victory over Atlantis as a fantasy inversion of America’s nuclear bombing of Japan at the end of World War II, with a hefty assist from the Soviet “ancient nuclear war” claims (repeated by Morning of the Magicians and other ancient astronaut texts) in the years leading up to the founding of Mahikari.
Here’s a map from the cult’s textbook showing how Japan-Mu seeded all the world with their culture:
There was a scandal back in the 1990s when the Australian government recognized Mahikari as an educational organization and provided financial support for its “educational” efforts, aimed at teaching children the “truth” about world history and the Japanese origins of the Jews.
It’s particularly intriguing the way Okada has appropriated Churchward’s fantasy and inverted its colonialist undertones. For Churchward, Mu was dominated by the white race, who formed its aristocracy and ruling class. (This is where David Childress derives some of his more unfortunate racial claims, such as his hierarchy of races in 1996’s Ancient Tonga and the Lost City of Mu’ua.) But Okada has raised his own people to the top of the heap (and in fact further divides the “yellow” people so that the Japanese are paramount above the Chinese and Koreans). His is a Japan-centric version of pseudo-history, and so far as I know one that is largely unknown outside of Japan.
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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