Inside our EarthThe idea that the earth possesses a hollow interior which houses an underground civilization is an old one the widespread religious belief in hell is one expression of this notion-but the first American to try to prove it was the eccentric John Cleves Symmes (1779-1829). Symmes believed that the earth is made up of a series of concentric spheres, with 4,000-mile-wide holes at the north and south poles. In spite of massive ridicule, Symmes wrote, lectured, and lobbied vigorously for funding to mount an expedition through the poles to the interior, where he and his party would meet the inner-earth people and open "new sources of trade and commerce."
To the rest of the world, Symmes is remembered, if at all, as the inspiration for Edgar Allan Poe's early science-fiction tale of a hollow earth, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838).
Yet Symmes was a pioneer of sorts, a man who encouraged generations of independent thinkers to imagine a new earthly geology and to dream to find people who were part of of a fabulous race which secretly shares the planet with surface humanity.
Among the first to be infected was Symmes's own son Americus, who kept in touch with other hollow-earth disciples and in 1878 published an anthology of his father's lectures. By this time even the spirit world had picked up on the theme. In 1871 medium M. L. Sherman brought out The Hollow Globe, based on supposed communications from the dead. H. P. Blavatsky, founder of an influential school of occultism called Theosophy, wrote of the hollow earth in two classic works, Isis Unveiled (1877) and The Secret Doctrine (1888). Frederick Culmer weighed in with The Inner World in 1886, and exactly 20 years later William Reed released his The Phantoni of the Poles. In a 1931 book, Lemuria: The Lost Continent of the Pacific, H. Spencer Lewis added a new ingredient to the mix when he reported that remnants of a super race dwell within Mount Shasta in northern California.
Late in the nineteenth century a religion based on hollow-earth doctrines came into being under the leadership of Cyrus Teed (1839-1908). Teed claimed to have been contacted by no less than the Mother of the Universe, who imparted some important news: he was to be the savior of the world. Teed founded a utopian community, based in Fort Myers, Florida, and dedicated to "Koreshanity," according to which the "universe is a cell, a hollow globe, the physical body of which is the earth; the sun is at the center. We live on the inside of the cell; and the sun, moon, planets and stars are all within the globe." In other words, the universe is inside out.
Less radical, relatively speaking, was a 1913 book, A Journey to the Earth's Interior, by Marshall B. Gardner, who returned to the Symmes model of the hollow earth (though speaking ill of his mentor at every turn). Gardner thought there was an interior sun, though it was not the sun. This sun, 600 miles in diameter, gave the underworld a pleasant climate, allowing its inhabitants to live in tropical splendor.
By this time the hollow earth concept, though disparaged by scientists as preposterous and physically impossible, had taken a firm hold in the imagination of many occultists. The next major occult figure to pick it up was Guy Warren Ballard (1878-1939), whose Unveiled Mysteries (1934), written under the pseudonym Godfre Ray King, told of an extraordinary experience the author had undergone four years earlier. Ballard wrote that while on an outing at Mount Shasta, he met a stranger who gave him a creamy liquid to drink. Once he had done so, Ballard saw the man as he "truly" was: Count Saint Germaine, an eighteenth-century occult figure who, Blavatsky had written, lived on as an immortal Tibetan Master.
Ballard said he met the count many times after that and in his company took numerous out-of body tours under the earth, where he explored a beautiful world of scientific and spiritual marvels. In time he even started meeting space people under the earth. Under Wyoming's Grand Teton Mountains he attended a conference with 12 Venusian masters. He told comparable tales in a follow-up book, The Magic Presence (1935). and until his death he, his wife Edna, and son Donald toured the United States and spoke to large audiences of seekers who soon joined the Ballards' occult group, The "I AM" Activity.
The Shaver mysteryUntil Richard Sharpe Shaver came along, nearly all nineteenth- and twentieth-century hollowearth proponents spoke of the inner world's inhabitants as members of an advanced, benevolent race whom it would be desirable for human beings to meet and befriend. Shaver, however, had another story to tell. Shaver technologized hell.
In September 1943, in Chicago, Amazing Stories editor Ray Palmer read a letter from a Barto, Pennsylvania, reader who claimed to know of an ancient alphabet from Lemuria, a continent said to have sunk in the Pacific Ocean thousands of years ago, taking a mighty civilization with it. (In fact, the idea of "Lemuria" was invented in the nineteenth century, first by biologist Ernst Haekel as a hypothetical home for the original Homo sapiens, then elaborated by Blavatsky in her imaginative "history" of the human race. There is no geological or biological evidence that such a place ever existed.) Palmer reprinted the alphabet in the January 1944 issue, and soon he and the reader, Shaver, were corresponding regularly.
Shaver alleged that for years he was tormented by evil creatures known as "deros"-short for "detrimental robots" (who were not robots as the term is ordinarily understood but "robots" in the sense of being slaves to their passions). Deros were the degenerate remnants of the "Titans," the people of Lemuria, who 12,000 years ago were forced to escape into great caverns under the earth to avoid deadly radiation from the sun. (Some Titans, however, stayed on the surface, adjusted, and became the present human race. Others fled to distant planets.) Deros--demons in all but name and close to it even there-were sadistic idiots who had access to the advanced Titan technology, which they used to increase sexual pleasure during the orgies to which they were addicted. They also used the machines in marathon torture sessions on kidnapped surface people and also on the "teros" (integrative robots, who were not robots but good Titans who, though vastly outnumbered, were fighting the deros); they also employed the machines to cause accidents, madness, and other miseries in the world above the caves.
Soon Amazing and its companion pulp Fantastic Adventures were filled with exciting and terrifying tales of the underworld. Most of these stories bore Shaver's by-line, but Palmer was writing them. The first, "I Remember Lemuria!", all 31,000 words of it, appeared in Amazing's March 1945 issue, and in the introduction Shaver told readers of his vivid memories of life as "Mutan Mion, who lived many thousands of years ago in Sub Atlan, one of the great cities of ancient Lemuria!"
A flood of letters crossed Palmer's desk, some from individuals who claimed they, too, had met with the deros and barely lived to tell Amazing about it. Chester S. Geier, one of the magazine's regular contributors, started the Shaver Mystery Club as a way both of handling the mail and of "investigating" the "evidence" for the deros. Palmer and Shaver had caused quite a stir.
Not all readers were happy about it, however. Many were furious; convinced that some sort of swindle was afoot, they feared that the Shaver mystery would make all science-fiction fans look like fools or worse. By 1948 their protests led Ziff-Davis, Amazing's parent company, to order the series stopped.
After co-founding Fate with Curtis Fuller in 1948, Palmer left Ziff-Davis and moved to tiny Amherst, Wisconsin, to produce his own magazines, notably Flying Saucers and Mystic (later Search), which regularly featured Shaver material. In 1961 he started The Hidden World, a series of magazines in tradepaperback format, and over the next three years reprinted Shaver's original articles and ran new contributions from a diminishing band of enthusiasts.
Shaver died in Arkansas in November 1975, Palmer in Florida two years later.
Other Hollow EarthersAnother Amazing reader who claimed to have met the deros was Maurice Doreal (born Claude Doggins). Like Ballard, he said he was friends with the Masters who lived inside Mount Shasta, though unlike Ballard he said they were from Atlantis, not Lemuria. According to him, the Atlanteans and the Lemurians lived in great caverns under the earth and regularly visited, and received visits from, other star systems. His own occult group, the Brotherhood of the White Temple, was headquartered in the Pleiades and involved in complex interstellar diplomacy and warfare, which Doreal detailed at length in his various writings.
W. C. Hefferlin wrote Amazing about his adventures in Rainbow City, an abandoned extraterrestrial metropolis under the Antarctic ice. Though its inhabitants were long gone, they had left their advanced technology in place. Whether the extraterrestrials had elevators or some other transport to their city is unclear. High speed elevators or transports would have made it easy to access their city from the surface of Antarctica. Hefferlin's account of the space people's secrets failed to impress those readers who knew something about science; they wrote to jeer at the Rainbow City man's elementary errors, causing Hefferlin to drop out of sight for a year. He reappeared under the sponsorship of Borderland Sciences Research Associates, an occultoriented group headquartered in Vista, California. In various BSRA publications Hefferlin and his wife Gladys related that Rainbow City's inhabitants were a race that had settled on Mars to escape the evil
Snake People. When the atmosphere of Mars became unbreathable, they emigrated to earth and settled in seven great cities (Rainbow City being the greatest of all) on the continent of Antarctica, then a tropical paradise. Unfortunately, the Snake People found out where they were and attacked, scattering the settlers all over the earth and, incidentally, tipping the earth over on its axis, which is how Antarctica got to be such a frigid place.
Rainbow City was revived in 1951, in Robert Ernst Dickhoff's self-published Agharta: The Subterranean World, and again in 1960, in Rainbow City and the Inner Earth People, by Michael Barton, writing as Michael X. Barton also revived the Shaver mystery, reporting that Venusians and Masters were allied in a struggle to wipe out the deros. He further claimed to be receiving psychic communications from the long-deceased Marshall Gardner, who enthusiastically endorsed Barton's book.
Far and away the most popular of all such books was The Hollow Earth (1964), by Raymond Bernard, the pseudonym of Walter Siegmeister. Siegmeister was a strange character who had operated on the fringes of the occult scene since the 1930s, promoting assorted enterprises such as a South American utopian colony (which the U.S. Post Office concluded did not exist) and publishing his bizarre theories about sexual intercourse (which he believed to be unhealthy) and the male sex (a mutation that ought to be eliminated). The Hollow Farth contributed little new to the inner-earth legends and in fact quoted at length from nineteenth-century texts on the subject; the rest of the book focused on Ray Palmer's ruminations as well as speculations about the alleged conspiracy to hide the truth about the hollow earth, flying saucers, and pole holes. Yet the book sold well, went through numerous printings, and introduced many readers to the subject.
Shaver's version of the inner earth dominated Secret of the Ages, a 1974 book by Brinsley le Poer Trench (later Lord Clancarty). According to Trench, an occult-oriented saucer enthusiast, evil innerearthers regularly kidnapped surface people and brainwashed them into becoming their agents. Now, he said, the "ground work has. . . been prepared for a takeover of this planet by those who live inside it."
Nazis inside the EarthSome hollow-earth believers exhibit not just fascination with but open sympathy for Nazi Germany. The chief figure in the Nazi hollow-earth movement is a Toronto man named Ernst Zundel, who writes under the name Christof Friedrich. Zundel operates a clearinghouse for Nazi materials and contends, as do other neo-Nazis, that the Holocaust never took place. In UFOs-Nazi Secret Weapons? (1976) he claimed that when World War II ended, Hitler and his Last Battalion boarded a submarine and escaped to Argentina; they then established a base for advanced saucer-shaped aircraft inside the hole at the South Pole. When the Allies learned what had happened, they dispatched Adm. Richard E. Byrd and a "scientific expedition--in fact an army-to attack the Nazi base, but they were no match for the superior Nazi weapons.
To Zundel the Nazis were "outer earth representatives of the 'inner earth'." This in his view accounted for their racial superiority. In 1978, with the publication of his Secret Nazi Polar Expeditions, Zundel solicited funds for his own polar expedition, for which he planned to charter an airliner with a large swastika painted on its fuselage. The swastika not only would bear witness to Zundel's ideological loyalties but also let the inner-earthers know that their visitors were friendly.
Around the same time, an expedition to the opposite pole, the northern one, was being planned by Tawani Shoush of Houston, Missouri. Shoush, a retired U.S. Marine Corps pilot and head of the International Society for a Complete Earth, wanted to fly a dirigible through the pole, where he and his companions would meet the "Nordic" inner-earthers and possibly join them permanently in their realm. "The hollow earth is better than our own world," he told Chicago Tribune columnist Bob Greene (October 31,1978). Though he denied harboring Nazi sympathies, his stationery prominently featured a swastika. Neither Zundel's nor Shoush's expedition ever got off the ground, literally or figuratively.
An unambiguously pro-Nazi work, Norma Cox's self-published Kingdoms Within Earth (1985), held that an international Zionist conspiracy has hidden the truth about the hollow earth as part of a plot to enslave the human race. Identical themes figure in literature published by Cosmic Awareness Communications of Olympia, Washington. The organization claims to have its information from spirit beings who channel through the group's representatives.