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main index     © Jeff Matthews      entry August 2015


Ischia and "Countries of the Mind"

- or the Hollow Earth is alive and well

- or The Epomean Tales



Mt. Epomeo on the island of Ischia                   
Historians of ideas use the term "countries of the mind" to describe what the rest of us might call "mythical places", perhaps not even sure what we really mean by that term. We don't mean obvious make-believe places-not Neverland or Shangri-La or Oz, places where we go to indulge our fantasies or sense of fun, but which we know to be fiction (simply because we know who invented these delightful getaways-James Barrie, James Hilton and Frank Baum, respectively). "Countries of the mind", rather, are such places as the lost continent of Atlantis, or, in the case at hand, Agartha (also Agarthi and similar variants), a mythical city at the earth's core. The myths of Atlantis and Agartha have driven the wish-dreams of generations of occultists and their conviction that we must be doing something wrong, that there must be something beyond materialism, some way to access the "secrets of the ancients", to find the Akashic record (said to be the enduring trace of all events that have ever occurred, every thought, idea and emotion-an eternal psychic record of our species. If we could just find it and return to our lost age of innocence!). These places exist in a sense that "make believe" places do not.

Note the 2 o'clock position of Mt. Epomeo
This is a recent graphic by artist Max Fyfield
Agartha is a subset of the Hollow Earth theory beloved by occultists in the early 1900s, itself part of the general rise of irrationalism of those years: the surface of our planet is mere covering for the “real” earth below with its great central sun and civilization of advanced beings, perhaps interstellar travellers and, above all, guardians of vast knowledge, the knowledge we no longer possess. Agartha was/is accessible from various points on earth. Tibet is usually on the list; so is the south pole, but any place will do, really. I am not, repeat NOT, mocking the idea of underground cities; they have demonstrably existed. This is something else entirely.

The island of Ischia is also on the list. Access to the Hollow Earth is from Mt. Epomeo. That was the focal point of yesterday's episode on Italian TV2 of a program called Voyager-On the Borders of the Unknown. The program has been on the air since 2003 with good ratings. As the title indicates, it specializes in pyramids, aliens, crop circles, UFO's, ancient archaeology, etc. This particular episode was entitled "The Myth of the Submerged World."
If you have been asleep since 1960, you may not be aware that the irrationalism I mentioned now goes by the name of New Age. There are more persons than ever before who are quite ready to believe that since "science doesn't know everything," it knows nothing. Therefore, it is possible that the earth is hollow, contains a central sun, a grand city named Shamballah, space ports that launch flying saucers out into our world, etc. etc. a vast world that we enter from, for example, Mt. Epomeo, on Ischia.



You could tell it all like The Canterbury Tales
-a "frame story"- The Epomean Tales. You and a band of fellow seekers after truth have decided to ride your mules up the trail to the height of the mountain (I have done that! In sooth I sought a place to eat) to find the mysterious passage into the great internal earth. The "frame" is a string of short two-minute segments on the trail going up Epomeo. Along the way you stop and tell tales of all the other mysterious underworlds (each tale is a longer 5-10 minute segment): the great crystal caves of Mexico; underground cities such as Derinkuyu in Turkey; the lost library in caves and tunnels in Ecuador with undeciphered script written on metal plates; all the mysteries beneath pyramids in Egypt, Central America, Bosnia(!); the creepy skeletons in the sewers of Paris; the even creepier ones here in Naples at the Fontanelle cemetery; and, in Naples, the "shadow city", the hundreds of quarries beneath the city. And don't forget the original Hollow Earth of Tibetan Buddhism, the one that the Nazis set out to find (not just in Indiana Jones fiction-they really and truly sent researchers to Tibet to find out just how Ayran they were (the Nazis? the Tibetans? No one really knows.) (Later, when Adolf heard that Ischia was supposed to be another Hollow Earth portal, he sent some of his evil henchpersons down here to investigate!) Between each one of these tales, you, your friends and mules slouch a bit further toward the height of Epomeo, up the trail, wondering what you'll find at the top. You pass churches cut into rock, a few caves, other stray pilgrims, and you keep plodding during the commercial breaks. All the while you ask yourselves tantalizing questions: do the similarities in underground structures in various parts of the world mean that there was intercontinental communication way back then, maybe 7,000 years ago? Are those Mexican crystals a new form of life? Are they from another planet? Can you enter Hollow Earth in Antarctica and come out in Ischia? Will they take my Naples bus pass? Is everything really connected? or is the only common feature that it is all so magnificently weird you want to live a thousand years just to find it all out?-but then there would always be something else! You can get a two-hour TV program out of that, easily.

Ischia is important in Greek mythology. Some angry god or other was always tossing a lesser deity down into the waters where they turned into the islands we know today. Not plausible, but a good tale
-like Hollow Earth, itself. "They say" (another favorite expression of TV ventures into the unknown) that during the crusades, entire armies of Saracens and Christians waged war on Epomeo, and then suddenly were gone. Where did they go? And if you follow Ischia blogs, they are full of UFO spottings right where you'd expect them to be, darting will-o'-the-wisps rising from the hidden bases beneath Epomeo, rising from the Hollow Earth. They also speculate that this is where the great Neapolitan mathematician, Ettore Majorana, disappeared! (Really.) What will you find at the top? There is what is left of an old monastery, now a small hotel (with a wishing well, I wish that we were there*1). But what is below all that? Better question-what is right next door!?

The TV guys saved the best for last. Good move. It was worth the mule ride. Next door you see a bunch of antennas, part of what is currently an Italian military site. But before that, it was a US and NATO installation. Again, "they say" there are no witnesses to the large logistical comings and goings that surely must have gone into the building of such a place. So how did they do it! Is it possible that they came in from a hidden secret entrance? (The voice-over was phrased as a question.) And how did the Americans and NATO know about it unless they got it from Hitler's evil henchpersons?
(Again, the voice-over was phrased as a question.) Well, I used to work for the NSA, NATO and the US Army in Naples (that is all true), and if I tell you that there is no secret passageway from Ischia down into Hollow Earth, you'd say, "Hah! That's what they told you to say, right?" I cannot comment further, but watch your step, friend.

Thus "The Myth of the Submerged World" clicked along, frame by frame, starting with Epomeo and ending there. See you next time. And now it
is summer, and Ischia can be a strange place, especially in the summertime. My emotions are with the dreamers. I really do agree with Scottish historian James Charles Webb (1946-1980), a respected researcher in occultism that it would, indeed, be a loss if such wish-dream places did not exist-that, in his words "...a positive loss would be felt if Atlantis was one day conclusively shown to be Platonic myth...But man the dreamer is so constituted that such an impoverishment is not really a possibility."*2 So my advice is this: go for the baths, have a good time, but should you decide to leave for Agartha from Ischia, follow the yellow brick road, second star to the right, and when you come to the fork in the road, take it.

[Mysterious grottoes play a role in all of this, as well. See this link.]

*1 Great line stolen from "There's a small hotel" (1936) by Rodgers and Hart.
*2 Webb, James C.N. - "Atlantis" in
Encyclopedia of the Unexplained; Magic, Occultism and Parapsychology, ed. Richard Cavendish. 1974, Routledge & Kegan Paul, London & Henley.


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