A New Atlantis

The story of Atlantis has always had a special significance for us. Shortly after Victoria and I met, at the Tarrytown Conference Center in 1983, a friend of hers told us that we had been together in Atlantis — she as a spiritual dancer, I as her protector — trying to save that civilization from the kind of disaster we face today.

The Atlantis myth dates back to Plato, and according to his pupil Aristotle was most likely a fabrication designed to provide a setting for some of his social ideas.[1]

My purpose in retelling the story here is, first of all, to point out the parallels to our modern crises; and second, to describe a possible future scenario in which we are able to overcome these crises and reinvent our relationship with the planet. In very simple terms, I believe we need a marriage of advanced technology and permaculture, of personal transformation and social change, of science and native wisdom, in order to imagine into being a new system that will make the one we have today obsolete and abandoned.


[1] According to David Darling, “So much has been written and surmised about the “lost continent” of Atlantis in recent decades that it’s easy to forget that the whole tale rests upon just one source of highly uncertain provenance: a description by Plato in his Timaeus and Critias. Plato claims, in these writings, that the story came to him by way of various intermediaries from his ancestor Solon who learned it, in turn, from Egyptian priests in 590 BC.

“Some 9,000 years earlier, according to the legend, there was an island metropolis, roughly 32,000 square miles in area, lying beyond the Pillars of Hercules (the modern-day Straits of Gibraltar). It was dominated by hills and surrounded by two concentric rings of land, linked by bridges and roads. The water separating the rings formed extensive harbors connected by canals 150 feet deep and 500 yards wide. The vegetation was luxuriant, the land fertile and self-sufficient, and there were both hot and cold freshwater springs. Black, white, and red stones were quarried from beneath the central hill, leaving a natural roof for the inner harbor. The Atlanteans lived securely and comfortably in their island paradise – until, suddenly, disaster struck. According to Plato: “Through violent earthquakes and floods, in a single day and night of misfortune … [the whole race] … was swallowed up by the Earth and the island of Atlantis … disappeared into the depths of the sea.”

“Aristotle, who, as a protege of Plato, was in a slightly better position than ourselves to judge, maintained that the whole story was a fabrication from beginning to end. It was dreamed up, he maintained, simply to provide a setting for some of Plato’s social ideas. Certainly, the purported size of Atlantis, its location (west of Spain) and the extreme age of its civilization are completely at odds with modern geological and archeological evidence.”

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