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Atlantis – The Search For Paradise Lost

Written by: Andrew Cowie, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


For centuries mankind has been enthralled by the legend of Atlantis – a mythological Utopian paradise that supposedly sank beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in a terrible apocalyptic catastrophe thousands of years ago.

Small scale of Atlantis at the museum.

Atlantis was first mentioned by the Greek philosopher Plato in his works Timaeus and Criteas in which he described an all-powerful seafaring nation with a highly advanced civilisation commanding an empire that stretched across Europe and parts of Africa. This civilisation flourished until it grew so powerful that its people succumbed to hubris and corruption, whereupon the god Poseidon wrought a terrible punishment that wiped the island from the face of the earth in a single day and night.

Debates have long raged as to whether Plato’s account was intended as pure allegory or whether it was based on actual historical events. Today there are still those who search ardently for evidence of the lost continent and explorers who claim to have found it in locations as far apart as Spain and the Bahamas. Some believe it lies beneath the ice in Antarctica, while another theory places it in the middle of the Sahara Desert in a curious piece of land called the Richat Structure.

However, the most widely accepted hypothesis links Atlantis to the Greek island of Santorini which was devastated in a massive volcanic eruption around 1500BC, bringing about the end of the advanced and extremely powerful Minoan civilisation.

Santorini, under its ancient name of Thera, was one of the jewels in the crown of the Minoan empire which flourished throughout the Mediterranean during the Bronze Age. The Minoans were the first advanced civilisation in Europe, commanded a vast trading network and left behind a legacy of massive building complexes as well as sophisticated art and writing systems. Its centre of power was the mighty palace of Knossos on Crete, a vast, complex labyrinth of 1300 rooms with walls decorated with colourful frescos. Tragically, this majestic civilisation was all but destroyed by the terrible volcanic eruption which sent much of Thera beneath the waves and caused earthquakes and massive tsunamis which devastated Crete and the surrounding islands.

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Santorini for myself and to investigate its claim to be the paradise isle of Plato’s legend. Evidence of the historic cataclysm can still be seen everywhere to this day. The sands of the beach in Kamari, the resort where I stayed, are a distinctive black – a legacy of the volcanic ash which blanketed the island 3500 years ago – while a distinctive archway carved into the cliff face at the end of the beach is said to be all that remains of Atlantis’s Temple of Poseidon.

Perhaps the most compelling evidence of all is the archaeological site of Akrotiri – a village which was one of the main Bronze Age urban centres in the Aegean. Like Pompeii, Akrotiri has remained eerily preserved for thousands of years after being buried beneath tonnes of volcanic ash and pumice. Excavations of the site began in 1967, exposing a complex and highly advanced infrastructure and an elaborate sewage system that was centuries ahead of its time.

The ominous parallels between the fate of the Minoan Empire and Plato’s account of Atlantis are celebrated today at Santorini’s Lost Atlantis Experience, a museum featuring interactive exhibits reproducing the horror of the Thera eruption and its resulting devastation. Visitors can pose for pictures with Poseidon’s trident, interact with a hologram of Plato and view the world’s largest diorama of Atlantis (pictured above), built to match Plato’s original description with alternating belts of land and water arranged in concentric rings, along with harbours, temples, bridges and canals.

There is something magical and other-worldly about Santorini. From the red cliffs of Akrotiri to the magnificent sunsets of Oia, everything about it appears to have been plucked from the pages of a fairy tale. Having visited the island, I believe the evidence for Santorini as the source of the Atlantis myth to be compelling. However, as with all legends, it ultimately matters not whether one chooses to view the story as a historical fact or purely as a metaphor. What is important is the response that the story evokes within us.

From an allegorical perspective, there are two key ingredients at play here – the warnings of the dangers of hubris, and the search for a paradise lost – and those two moral lessons are just as important today as they were when Plato first told the story. One has only to look at the current global political landscape, and the catastrophic consequences of decisions taken by world leaders driven by their own egos, to realise the truth of the old adage “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. The fate of Atlantis serves as a salutary warning to those who put pride and personal ambition ahead of the welfare of the people they serve.

But the main reason the story of Atlantis resonates strongly with so many people today is the allure of the promise of an impending return to some idyllic, exalted state which mankind may have enjoyed at some point in the distant past. It is the same drive which spurs people to search for the Garden of Eden – another archetypal example of humankind’s fall from a lofty perch to which we aspire to return.

Seldom has this idea held such appeal as it does now. We live in a world which appears increasingly chaotic and has recently subjected us to a global pandemic, warfare, economic meltdowns, spiralling energy prices, a cost-of-living crisis and political turmoil, leaving most people hankering for something better.

There is hope for an improved future, however, and the great thing is that we don’t have to wait for an archaeological expedition to uncover sacred ruins on the ocean floor. The search for that exalted state symbolised by the Atlanteans is an internal quest that starts by working on ourselves.

The idea of a fall from perfection can be seen reflected in our own lives. Barring complications, humans are at the absolute peak of physical condition when we are newborns. That’s because as babies we breathe deeply from the abdomen as nature intended, ensuring that our blood is properly oxygenated and our organs functioning with optimum efficiency.

We also have a completely untainted view of the world in our infancy. Everything is new and experienced through fresh eyes. We have yet to encounter regret, stress or worry. We live purely for the moment. As we move through life, however, and are subjected to increasing sources of anxiety and pressure, our breath starts to rise from the abdomen to the chest, making our bodies taut and tense and preventing the blood from properly oxygenating.

We also become increasingly exposed to external influences as the pressure to conform with the expectations of our parents, teachers, siblings, peers and employers cause us to become further and further removed from the unique and joyful individuals we were originally born as. Curiosity is replaced by fear, boldness by hesitancy, joy by stress and individuality by conformity.

The result is a craving for something better – a search for the inner peace and serenity we have somehow lost. Our subconscious remembers the blissful innocence of those early months and years and yearns for a return to that time when we experienced optimum physical, mental and psychological health. We can recapture that state, but it’s a process that involves stripping back the lifetime of accumulated ash and grime which has tarnished the brightly sparkling diamond of our true selves. Like peeling the layers from an onion, we must discard the false wrappings of our life experiences and embrace the true self within.

The legend of Atlantis serves as a reminder of the existence of that lost paradise and of our innate ability to recapture it. The Ancient Greeks were masters at the use of storytelling as a tool for teaching and personal growth. They regarded myth-making as a science through which fundamental truths could be conveyed in a way designed to stir the inner knowing within man’s subconscious. At Phoenix Coaching & Therapy, and our associated esoteric training school AMHOP, we also make strong use of mythology and archetypes to help people uncover their own inner Atlantis.

It all starts by identifying what aspects of your present life you can afford to let go and consign to the depths of the ocean floor and which traits are most in harmony with your soul’s true calling and need to be embraced and celebrated. It’s a process rather like the archaeological dig still ongoing at Akrotiri, involving sifting through the layers of volcanic ash and pumice to find the treasure buried deep within. This can be a long and painstaking process, but, as with the jaw-dropping discoveries at Akrotiri, it’s well worth the effort.

If you’d like to know more about the services we offer, you can contact us at Phoenix Coaching & Therapy or AMHOP for details.

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Andrew Cowie, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine Andrew Cowie is a transformational life coach, psychotherapist, and author dedicated to helping people overcome adversity and achieve their full potential. He came to the world of therapy after a 20-year career in newspaper journalism was brought to an abrupt end by severe burnout. In the course of his own recovery, he was introduced to meditation, mindfulness, hypnotherapy, yoga, martial arts, and NLP. He went on to retrain some of the world's leading spiritual and personal development teachers to become an expert in these fields. Andrew has since dedicated his life to passing on this knowledge, synthesizing the various disciplines into one overarching system blending ancient spiritual practices with the latest cutting-edge techniques from the field of modern psychology. He is the owner of Phoenix Coaching & Therapy and the founder of its associated 'magical training school' The Ancient and Mystical Hermetic Order of the Phoenix (AMHOP). His debut book Rise Like a Phoenix was published in 2021 and is described as a manual for personal regeneration. Andrew works with clients worldwide and is passionate about mental health and exploring the latent potential of the human mind.



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