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The Lost City Of AtlantisCourtesy Mark Stephenson / Stocktreck Images

Is Atlantis resurfacing? Unpacking the internet’s latest big conspiracy

The lost city of Atlantis has ignited the imagination of a dedicated group of online spiritualists, who believe that they are descendants of the sunken city

Out of all the mysteries of the ocean, perhaps the most alluring is the lost city of Atlantis. The idea of the sunken civilisation first appeared in Plato’s works Timaeus and Critias, where it was described as a technologically advanced nation corrupted by wealth and power, wherein it sank to the bottom of the Atlantic ocean. Though no records of its existence are found – it was allegedly discovered a decade ago in the mud flats in southern Spain, but this hasn’t been proven – the age-old mystery lives on in the minds of occultists and New Agers as an example of an advanced utopian society.

With its mentions of lost treasures and technological advancement, the legend has recently ignited the imagination of a dedicated group of online spiritualists on TikTok, who believe that they are descendants of the sunken city. Many, if not all, of these Atlantis truthers are part of an occultist corner of the platform known as WitchTok (28 billion views), though many are also affiliated with WokeTok (1.9 billion views), its looser spiritual counterpart. The hashtag #Atlantis itself has 54.7 million views. Some believe that they are starseeds, descendants of a faraway light-body or planet, and tag mentions to arcturians, alien-human hybrids originating from a blue planet that orbits the star of Arcturus, and pleiadians, an alleged species from the Pleiades star cluster.

Atlantis, according to these commentators, was a lost civilisation from approximately 13,000 years ago – and the last time we were ‘conscious’ or ‘enlightened’. “On earth we go through cycles of being conscious and cycles of being unconscious, and the last time we were conscious was in Atlantis,” explains Grace McGrade, an occultist and Dazed Beauty astrologist. “Supposedly, we lived in divine partnerships and could create entire kingdoms. But we fell from ‘enlightenment’ and went back to sleep, and this created a dystrophy between us, our counterparts and soul groups. We forgot we were literally creating reality and manifested havoc.”

Some New Agers believe that when the civilisation fell, some people left the planet and others got trapped in Samsara. So, it’s likely that if you are on earth now, you were also there for the fall of Atlantis. However “we are in the inverse of what happened then,” McGrade says, “we are unconsciously becoming conscious.” On TikTok, some commentators draw parallels to our society now and the lost city: “This is take two, we made it back,” says one user. Others believe that our pyramid systems and crystals came from Atlantis and see an inclination towards alternative healing such as reiki and crystals as a telltale sign that you’re a descendent of the civilisation.

“The increased interest in wellness, reiki and crystals is not new, it’s probably a remembering or recognition of previous spiritual technology,” says McGrade. “The phrase ‘Child of Atlantis’ reeks of spiritual narcissism and also tickles me. I do believe Atlantis was a real place, perhaps even operating in a higher frequency or dimension than we are in now. I think there are so many parallels between what we are remembering now and what we forgot then. The process of ‘waking up’ involves us becoming aware that we are creator beings, trapped in a hell (or heaven) of our own design.”

There is, however, a darker side to the story. In his work, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, racist occultist Dietrich Eckart developed an “occult history” of mankind based on the lost Atlantis. For Eckart, who would go on to become Adolf Hitler’s mentor and is widely recognised as the spiritual cofounder of Nazism, the people of Atlantis were a “pure race” – and saw Ayrans as its descendents. Although there doesn’t seem to be any explicit linkage between the Atlantis videos on TikTok and Eckart’s, it’s telling that many of these TikTokers are also part of the wellness community, a space largely occupied by white women and has been proven to overlap with far-right conspiracies.

“A lot of information on Atlantis was held and weaponized by secret societies, primarily The Order of The Skull and Bones, the Theosophical Research Society, Rosicrucianism, Helena Blavatsky, Alice Bailey, The Order of the Grail, and a sect known as the The Great White Brotherhood, which is terrifying,” explains McGrade. “All of these groups emphasised particular bloodlines with supernatural power that heralded from the original race of Atlantis. In these texts, they claim that the race was an ‘Aryan’ one, and are riddled with racist rhetoric and Christian lore. They claim to be building the religion of the future.”
“Athough I don’t believe the belief in Atlantis existing makes one racist – Edgar Cayce channeled about it and there’s a suggestion that there was even trans or two spirit souls – I think all of the information was hoarded, weaponised and distorted by secret societies that believed that they were a part of a supernatural race of white people,” she adds.

But, as with any conspiracy, there’s a reason the story feels so compelling. Like Atlantis, an advanced society plunged to the depths of the ocean out of hubris, we, too, are living in a world obsessed with technology. As social media tears apart any notion of a consensus reality, and western ideas of the anthropocene destroy our natural resources, it feels like modern science – and its promises of a better, fairer world – has betrayed us. We don’t understand how technology works, how the algorithm directs our interests and artificial intelligence morphs our understanding of reality, so we fall into equally irrational realities to make sense of an increasingly alien world.

These magical or mythological ways of thinking don’t follow directly on mathematical logic, but neither does our reality at present, where individuals interrupt their physical experience in place of disembodied networks and computer screens. In this understanding, the belief that some of us are descendants from a lost civilisation feels no crazier than Elon Musk predicting a future where we can renounce our corporal forms and upload our minds into the metaverse. 

There are, however, lessons to be learned from Plato’s morality tale, which seems just as relevant now as it did over 2000 years ago. Do we carry on using technology in such a way that further ravages the natural world, or do we find new ways to use technology in conjunction with nature? We’re living in an Atlantis of our own making, so the question is: do we sink or swim?

This article was originally published on June 20, 2022