The Ground Beneath Our Feet
Legends of the Hollow Earth

By Tim Swartz

Since the beginning, the legends, myths and religions of mankind have always been filled with strange and mystifying accounts of underground lands and peoples. Whispered tales of unseen cavern-worlds and hidden tunnel systems, have migrated from the realms of folklore, spiritual belief and early scientific speculation, to reemerge in the 20th century intertwined with UFOs and the belief in extraterrestrials.

One of the earliest examples of subterranean stories can be found in the tales of Gilgamesh. Like other ancient, mythical heroes, Gilgamesh longed for immortality which he saw as his birthright. In one tale he befriends a physically powerful, hairy, subhuman named Enkidu, and teaches him the customs of humanity. later, on behalf of his friend and king, Enkidu agrees to venture into the underworld of ancient Mesopotamia, to search for someone who has the secret of immortality.

Other Sumerian accounts relate that the KUR, or KI-GAL (the "Great Below") was a place of immense size and great terror. This realm was ruled by the goddess Ereshkigal and her consort Nergal, a warlike god who had entered her queendom with plans of conquest, only to be seduced by the enemy, who became his wife.

The KI-GAL was said to be filled with a wide range of beings, including the spirits and undead, reanimated bodies of human beings, and also savage guardians called "scorpion men." Other residents were described as sexless and robotic "artificial" beings called GALATUR or Gala, who were used by the rulers of the underworld for missions of kidnaping human beings from the surface world.

The Greeks believed that the underworld was Hades, the realm of the dead, where every human, good or evil, crossed the river Styx to spend eternity in the dark recesses of the planet. This belief later was incorporated by the early Christians who imagined a fiery underground world where the fallen angel lucifer tortured damned souls forever.

England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland each have a rich tradition of underground people, with many similarities or even common origins between them. Like the Norse/Germanic variants, the fairies, goblins, trows, knockers, brownies, leprechauns, sidhe (shee), tylwyth teg (terlooeth teig), and numerous other categories of humanoid beings were fair or foul, malevolent or kind (actually, indifferent), making their homes beneath the ground.

Native American cultures had similar beliefs in an extensive layered realm of caverns which was hidden beneath their feet. This murky world was believed to be inhabited by both human and humanoid beings, and by a variety of monsters and demons. Most tribes or nations had their own traditions of subterranean little people, as well as other motifs, including reptilian or serpent-like humanoid beings. In addition to this, many tribes believed that they had themselves emerged from a mythical underworld, ages before.

One of the oldest, sacred traditions of the Mescalero Apache states that they came from the "Old Red Fire Land," before the "Great Flood." This land was said to be in the distant eastern (Atlantic) sea, and was destroyed by a combination of deluge and volcanic cataclysms. Escaping through "great caverns" and tunnel-systems, the ancestors of the Apache came to high mountain lands far to the south, where they built new cities. A series of misfortunes there, however, eventually drove them northward.

One of the early German settlers in Santa Catarina, Brazil, wrote and published a book in old German, dealing with the Subterranean World, allegedly deriving his information from the local Indians. The book described the Earth as being hollow, with a sun in its center. The interior of the earth was said to be inhabited by a disease-free, long-lived race of fruitarians. This subterranean world, the book claimed, was connected by tunnels with the surface, and these tunnels, it was claimed, open mostly in Santa Catarina and surrounding parts of South Brazil.

The following account appeared on page 52 of the November 1954 issue of FATE magazine. The article was titled "GATE TO THE UNKNOWN":

"In March, 1954, a French Jesuit priest in Sorata, Bolivia, told a strange story of an exploring trip he had made in the cavern of San Pedro on 20,000 foot Mount Illampu of the Andes chain. The cavern must be entered on all fours through a narrow passage which widens after a few yards and leads into an immense cavern filled with stalagmites and stalactites. At one end of the cavern is a subterranean lake.

"The French priest claimed to be the first person to cross to the far end of the lake. After several HOURS of rowing a small boat by artificial light, he related, the cave narrowed and gave way to a trail barred by an enormous gate of wrought iron. The grille, he said, bore all the characteristics of 17th century Spanish ironwork. The priest tried unsuccessfully to break through the barrier. He was eager to see what lay beyond but he had to return to Sorata without solving the mystery."

A Peruvian newspaper describes an expedition which explorers from Lima University, accompanied by experienced speleologists, undertook in 1923. After entering a tunnel in or near Cuzco, Peru, the explorers lost communication with the point of entry. After 12 days only one member of the expedition, almost starved, returned to the surface. But his report of a confusing labyrinth was so incredible his colleagues declared him mad. Police prohibited entry into the mysterious passage and dynamited the entrance to prevent further loss of life.

In his book 'THE GOLD OF THE GODS', Erich von Danniken relates some interesting ideas concerning an ancient tunnel system that had been discovered below the mountains and jungles of Ecuador, which reportedly consist of straight glazed tunnels with intermittent air shafts that stretch for hundreds of miles. On pp. 59-60 of this particular work, he states:

"...I can refute the objection that the tunnel-builders must have 'betrayed' themselves by the enormous quantities of debris excavated while making the tunnels. As I credit them with an advanced technology, they were presumably equipped with a THERMAL DRILL of the kind described in DER SPIEGAL for 3 April, 1972, which reported it as the latest discovery. The scientists of the U.S. Laboratory for Atomic Research at Los Alamos spent a year and a half developing the thermal drill. It has nothing in common with ordinary drills. The tip of the drill is made of wolfram and heated by a graphite heating element. There is no longer any waste material from the hole being drilled. The thermal drill melts the rock through which it bores and presses it against the walls, where it cools down. As DER SPIEGAL related, the first test-model bored almost soundlessly through blocks of stone 12 ft. thick. At Los Alamos they are now planning the construction of a thermal drill that is powered by a mini atomic reactor and eats into the earth like a mole, in the form of an armored vehicle. This drill is intended to pierce the earth's crust, which is about 25 miles thick and take samples of the molten magma that lies underneath it..."

The Indians of the South-West United States., have legends of tall, fair-haired beings and the "Little People," Both are said to have "Sky Craft." Native Americans speak of underground races, Surface Races and people living above in the Heavens. The Navajo legends state they once lived Underground, together with the Coyoteros and the White people, below a mountain near Silverton, Colorado.

A Navaho Indian legend speaks of ancient migrations involving a cavernous realm below the four corners areas. The Hopi's speak of a similar legend involving an alleged opening, sometimes described as a hill and sometimes as a pond, covering the path to the cavern world. The Hopi 'emergence' point is called the Sipapu or Sipapuni and is said to be near the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers. According to the Hopi tradition not all of the people who dwelt in the cavern world came up with them. Others chose to remain below. As for the Navajos, they state that:
"At one time all the nations, Navajos, Pueblos, Coyoteros, and white people, lived together, underground in the heart of a mountain near the river San Juan. Their only food was meat, which they had in abundance, for all kinds of game were closed up with them in their cave; but their light was dim and only endured for a few hours each day...

"Then the men and the animals began to come up from their cave, and their coming up required several days. First came the Navajos, and no sooner had they reached the surface they commenced gaming at patole, their favorite game. Then came the Pueblos and other Indians, who crop their hair and build houses. Lastly came the white people, who started off at once for the rising sun and were lost (from) sight...for many winters. While these nations lived underground they all spoke one tongue; but (with) the light of day and the level of the earth came many languages..."

The Indians of the South-West United States., have legends of tall, fair-haired beings and the "Little People," Both are said to have "Sky Craft." Native Americans speak of underground races, Surface Races and people living above in the Heavens. The Navajo legends state they once lived Underground, together with the Coyoteros and the White people, below a mountain near Silverton, Colorado.

The Pajaritan Pueblo Indians have a Legend that they emerged from the inner earth, near the Great Sand Dunes [National Monument] in Colorado. They then traveled down the Rio Grande, setting up Pueblos. The area now known as Los Alamos, was considered evil. The home of Underworld "Little People."

The Hollow Earth

The British astronomer Edmund Halley proposed that the earth might consist of several concentric spheres placed inside one another in the manner of a Chinese box puzzle. The two inner shells had diameters comparable to Mars and Venus, while the solid inner core was as big as the planet Mercury. More startling was Halley's proposal that each of these inner spheres might support life. They were supposed to be bathed in perpetual light created by a luminous atmosphere. When there was an unusually bright display of aurora borealis, Halley postulated that it might have been caused by glowing gas escaping from the earth' s interior into our atmosphere.

Further hollow earth theories were postulated by an early nineteenth-century American eccentric named John Cleves Symmes. Like Hailey, Symmes thought the earth was made up of five concentric spheres. But he added a new wrinkle. There was a huge opening, popularly called "Symmes Hole," at each of the poles. The ocean flowed in and out of these openings. The interior of the earth was also supposed to be inhabited.

Symmes, an army captain who had served with distinction in the War of 1821, was an enthusiastic evangelist for his theory. He traveled around the country trying to raise money to send an expedition to the north polar hole. He even petitioned Congress for money to finance the expedition, and the proposal garnered twenty-five votes. A rich doctor financed an 1824 expedition to the South Pole to find the Symmes Hole. The expedition was unsuccessful, but Symmes died with his idea intact, and a stone model of the hollow earth according to Symmes sits atop a memorial raised to him by his son at Hamilton, Ohio.

In 1906, William Reed published a book called Phantom of the Poles in which he stated, "I am able to prove my theory that the earth is not only hollow, but suitable in its interior to sustain human life with as little discomfort as on its exterior, and can be made accessible to mankind with one-fourth the outlay of money, time and life that it costs to build the subway in New York City. The number of people who can settle in this new world will be billions."

Reed's startling proposal received scant attention from a skeptical public. Somewhat more influential was Marshall B. Gardner, who wrote about Symmes' theory a few years later. Gardner rejected the Symmes notion of five concentric spheres, but he enthusiastically adopted the idea of openings at the poles. According to Gardner, the interior of the earth was lighted by a small sun about six hundred miles in diameter.

Another believer of the hollow earth was Richard. S. Shaver, a Pennsylvania welder who claimed in Amazing Stories magazine that by "racial memory" he had reclaimed all of man's "forgotten" history. Shavers stories included accounts of evil creatures called Deros who lived in huge subterranean caverns that honeycombed the earth. In its May 21, 1951 issue, Life magazine decreed the Shaver Mystery to he "...the most celebrated rumpus that ever racked the science fiction world."

Shavers stories, with the help of publisher Ray Palmer, galvanized thousands of readers who wrote in about their own experiences with the underground caverns and the strange dwellers within them. It was Richard Shaver's contention that in prehistoric times, when our solar system was very young, Earth was inhabited by a race of cosmic superbeings who had come to our planet from another solar system.

Although the members of the Elder Race were not truly immortals, they had discovered secrets of incredible longevity. Later, when Homo had developed into a sentient being, such physical attributes of the Elder Race, together with their highly developed scientific technology, caused the extraterrestrials to be regarded as gods by the primitive and unsophisticated humans. The Elder Race possessed fantastic mechanical devices, which Shaver called "mech," capable of projecting three-dimensional images, extracting or implanting thoughts into others' minds, scanning over great distances, curing diseases, producing food and clothing--and killing and destroying life when deemed necessary.

After a time, the Elder Race, the Titans, began to notice that the once beneficent Sun now seemed to contain detrimental rays which were shortening their life-span by causing premature aging. While they had achieved near-immortality on their native planet, Earth's Sun, over the many centuries that their alien race had dwelt on its surface, had begun to take a toll on their physical bodies. But now they were no longer extraterrestrials. They had become citizens of Earth and were subject to its unique physical laws.

In order to escape from the harmful rays of the Sun, the Elder Race entered deep underground caverns and began carving out a fantastic subterranean kingdom, using their powerful ray guns to disintegrate rock. Soon they had constructed awesome machines which could duplicate the health-giving rays of the Sun while excluding the detrimental radioactivity. Meanwhile, beings of the developing Homo species continued to evolve in the Sun, ignorant of the rays which would shorten their life-span--and puzzled by the withdrawal of their gods.

Shaver informed his readers that the Elder Race was not without its sensualists, and certain of its members, particularly, the lesser ones, varied greatly in morality and intelligence. Perhaps the majority of the Elder Race regarded their lesser evolved human cousins with a feeling of superiority and ill-concealed contempt. Others may have exploited the females of Homo sapiens and may even have set the barbaric tribes of humans against one another for their own perverse pleasure, rooting for and assisting their favorite tribes and warriors.

According to Richard Shaver, the ancient myths and legends of such cultures as the Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans were the unsophisticated surface dwellers' interpretation of the myriad activities of the Elder Race. After a time, the Shaver Mystery has it, the Elder Race became so dissatisfied with life on Earth that a space mission was sent to find a more suitable world where they could live on the surface without fearing negative rays from the Sun. When the scouts finally returned with word of a planet with a beneficial Sun, a mass exodus was set in motion at once.

Because of the great distance involved in the interstellar travel and the limited number of spacecraft large enough to serve as transports, a good many of the Titans were forced to remain on Earth, sealed in underground caverns with their marvelous machines of super science. Centuries passed, and a series of desperate experiments with the "mech" brought about certain radiation that began to destroy a portion of the brain of many of the underpeople and produced a dangerous form of hereditary insanity.

Vast numbers of the cave people began to degenerate into physically stunted near-idiots, incapable of constructive reasoning. Shaver told his readers that such beings were the "Dero," that is, detrimental or degenerate robots. "Robot," as Shaver used the word, doesn't refer to a mechanical representation of a human being, but is rather a designation for those cave people who became controlled, or obsessed, by degenerative forces. The Deros, due to their hereditary brain damage, are completely devoid of any moral sense or humane instincts. They do harm at every opportunity, and they gain immense satisfaction from the sufferings of others. They have mastered the use of certain of the "mech," and they take great pleasure in directing negative rays at Earth's surface dwellers whenever possible.

Standing between the degenerate Dero and the complete annihilation of the surface people are the "Tero" (The Elder Race used T as a symbol of their religious philosophy, so the "T" in Tero stands for good). The Tero have devised a means of staving off many of the degenerative effects of their poisonous partial science by use of machines and chemicals and the direction of beneficial rays.

In ancient times, an extensive trade and exchange was carried on between the Tero and the surface peoples, but as humans became more sophisticated and their communications became more efficient, the Tero have almost completely withdrawn from open intercourse with the surface world. The surviving remnant of the Elder Race is determined to keep its Inner World a secret from the surface people until humankind has matured enough to share the marvels of the "mech," which remain operable and fully functional after millions of years.

Richard Shaver had originally entitled his manuscript, " A Warning to Future Man," because, according to his observations during his alleged sojourn in the eaves, he perceived that the Dero were becoming more numerous and had begun to weaken the more pacifistic Tero with their constant attacks. Shaver believed that the greatest danger to humankind lay in the uncomfortable fact that the Dero had access to the "mech" of the Elder Race's super science, but they did not have the requisite intelligence or the highly developed moral sense needed to handle the powerful machines responsibly.

Shaver went on to declare that the Dero were little more than sadistic idiots who have taken enormous delight in precipitating many of our surface wars, arranging terrible accidents for select members of humankind, and even in creating nightmares, as they train "dream mech " on unsuspecting humans as they sleep. Over the passing centuries, both the Tero and the Dero have learned to master-- Vision ray machines that can penetrate solid rock and view scenes all over the planet; Teleportation units that can effect instant transport from one point to another; Bizarre " mech " that can create " solid " illusions, dreams, and compulsions; The aerial craft that humans refer to as flying saucers or UFOS; Death rays; "Stim " machines to revitalize the reproductive organs; "Ben" rays that heal and restore the physical body.

Because these fantastic products of a technology not yet equaled by the surface dwellers are still in perfect working order due to the high degree of scientific craftsmanship with which they were constructed, the remnants of the Elder Race could still appear almost god-like even in our nuclear age.

Ray Palmer claimed that the issue of Amazing Stories (March, 1945) that carried the first Shaver fact-fiction piece brought in an unprecedented mail response, all of which was from readers who swore that "...Shaver spoke the truth, there actually were eaves, and Dero, and rays, and stim, and contrived train wrecks, and mental control, and thought records, and Titans, and ancient spaceships, and radioactive death raining down on us from the Sun." Ray Palmer kept the Shaver mystery going in his magazines for four years, in more than fifty consecutive issues of Amazing Stories, Fantastic Adventures, Mammoth Adventures, and even South Sea Stories. In his ground breaking publications Flying Saucers and Search Magazine, Palmer speculated that, because UFOs have been seen in earth's sky throughout history , they may very well be from our earth, in fact, evidence seemed to indicate that UFOs could very well come from a subterranean world inside our earth.

Recent stories of underground UFO bases controlled by evil aliens are a new development of the age-old hollow earth legends. The basic description of the alleged extraterrestrials ( the Greys) that are responsible for abductions and other late-night chicanery short with gray skin and large eyes to see in the dark, are a better fit for underground dwellers then travelers from other planets.

Nor has the Bigfoot escaped from the hollow earth connection. In the January 1975 issue of Saga magazine, an article by B. Ann Slate describes a psychic's description of these mysterious creatures.
"In April 1974, Psychic Joyce Partise of Southern California held a sealed envelope in her hands. Unknown to her, that envelope contained a photograph of a Sasquatch footprint {Ms Partise said] "These things are coming from outer space - it's an outer space war! The first area will be Portland, Oregon. There's a mountain with a hole in it. Someone should investigate this mountain because they're down in there already. You know those hairy things that run around, the ape man? He's not an ape. They're underground, in contact with outer space and their intentions toward mankind is total destruction!.. this gorilla man - there's a civilization of thousands of them their eyes are extremely light sensitive from being underground. These tunnels I'm seeing is part of their habitation. They've dug them. I think it may even go into California"

Similar legends from people all across the planet point to a universal belief in the existence of underground worlds and strange races that inhabit them. It is also interesting to note how these stories have been "modernized" and incorporated into UFO and alien reports that have replaced the belief in gods and angels in our highly technological and spiritual-less society.

Whether or not these legends and tales of the hollow earth are true or not is really besides the point because humans have a deep-seated need to believe in things that are outside our realm of understanding. For these are the dark, unknown lands that inflame our imaginations and provide the spark for further exploration to the parts of our universe that may always be just out of our reach.

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