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Mount Shasta

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Mount Shasta from a distance
Gather 'round the campfire
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Urban legends

Mount Shasta is a volcano in northern California at the southern end of the Cascades, with its peak at 14 179 ft (4 322 m) above sea level.[1] It last erupted in the late eighteenth century, and is considered to be potentially active.[2] It is also the subject of many legends and nonsense, from old Native American myths to more recent scams.[3] Nearby Mount Shasta City is home to many religious organisations and churches including a Buddhist monastery.[4]

Native American lore[edit]

The area has been inhabited for thousands of years. Some Native Americans believed it to be the centre of the universe.[3]

Klamath legend says that the mountain is home to Skell, Spirit of the Above-World, who occasionally wars with the Spirit of the Below-World by throwing hot rocks.[1] This explanation for volcanic activity has been discredited by scientists.

Refugees from Lemuria[edit]

Supposedly escapees from the sunken continent of Lemuria settled on the mountain, creating a subterranean city called Telos in tunnels under the mountain. The myth was popularised (and perhaps created) by Frederick Spencer Oliver, who claimed to use mediumistic communication with spirits from dead civilisations (most prominently "Phylos The Thibetan") to write about the history of Atlantis and Lemuria in A Dweller on Two Planets (written in 1895, and posthumously published by his mother in 1906).[5][6] Robed Lemurians have been spotted shopping in nearby stores.[7] Or maybe they're just Buddhist monks, or people from another of the area's many denominations.

I AM[edit]

Guy Ballard had a mystical encounter up the mountain with a stranger claiming to be the Count of St. Germain, and saying he was an "ascended master", someone who had lived many lives before escaping to a higher plane. This led to Ballard founding the "I AM" Activity or "I AM" Movement in the early 1930s. This spiritual movement was somewhat similar to theosophy, but with extreme nationalist overtones; they had a million followers at their peak in the late 1930s, before being investigated by the government for swindling their followers. The movement rapidly dwindled after that, although it remains an influence on much subsequent New Age thought.[8][9][3]


In Scientology, Mt. Shasta is one of the several volcanoes used by the galactic conqueror Xenu to exterminate the surplus populations of his worlds. The souls traumatized by this act of genocide became the "thetans" responsible for human trouble and sorrow:[10]

'Simultaneously, the planted charges erupted. Atomic blasts ballooned from the craters of Loa, Vesuvius, Shasta, Washington, Fujiyama, Etna, and many, many others. Arching higher and higher, up and outwards, towering clouds mushroomed, shot through with flashes of flame, waste and fission. Great winds raced tumultuously across the face of Earth, spreading tales of destruction ... '
L. Ron Hubbard, Revolt in the Stars

Hidden gold[edit]

There have been various stories of vast treasures being hidden under the mountain. Someone claiming to be J. C. Brown, a British prospector, said he had found a vast underground city full of treasures in 1904, and in 1934 persuaded around 80 people to join an expedition to the mountain, before he skipped town and never was seen again. The gold and underground city were never seen either.[5]


Shasta with clouds

Unusual lens-shaped -or "lenticular"[11]- clouds form around the top of the mountain, due to the area's geography and climate. These have been mistaken for UFOs by some people, and others claim they have been put there to hide real UFOs.[4] It is also claimed that the Lemurians use UFOs.[7]

Mysterious hole[edit]

Former video store employee Elijah Sullivan has been investigating what is claimed to be a "mysterious hole" in the side of Mount Shasta. There are many improbable explanations for this: it could be a gateway to Lemuria (no, it couldn't), or have been dug by someone seeking Native American artifacts, or most likely gold.[7]

See also[edit]


  1. 1.0 1.1 See the Wikipedia article on Mount Shasta.
  2. Global Volcanism Program:Shasta
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 A Mountain Of Many Legends Draws Spiritual Seekers From Around The Globe, NPR, 7 June 2015
  4. 4.0 4.1 Magic Mountain, Roads and Kingdoms, 2015
  5. 5.0 5.1 See the Wikipedia article on Legends of Mount Shasta.
  6. See the Wikipedia article on A Dweller on Two Planets.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 A Mysterious Hole Appeared on Mt. Shasta. Each Theory Behind It Tells a Different Story, The California Report, KQED
  8. See the Wikipedia article on "I AM" Activity.
  9. See the Wikipedia article on Guy Ballard.
  10. Savino, John, PhD; Jones, Marie D. (2007). Supervolcano: The Catastrophic Event That Changed the Course of Human History. Career Press. ISBN 1-56414-953-6, p. 55.
  11. Altocumulus Standing Lenticular Clouds, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration