Sunday, February 3, 2013

We Live Inside!

“The new molecular philosophy shows astronomical interspaces betwixt atom and
atom…the world is all outside: it has no inside.” 
     --Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience.”

"Your inside is out and your outside is in."
          --John Lennon "Everybody's Got Something to Hide" 

It takes a bold philosopher to disagree with Ralph Waldo Emerson. A young contemporary of Emerson,  Cyrus Teed was that man. Emerson’s profound declaration that the world “has no inside”?  Nonsense.  We were there already. Teed was a rural physician with training from the Eclectic Medical College in New York, a tradition which rejected heroic chemical cures and blood-letting and favored herbal and electrical remedies.
Teed also was a latter-day alchemist, thirsting after the very secrets of the universe;  and, in the true alchemical tradition of mixing science with mysticism, during his experiments in 1869 he had a spiritual epiphany. He left this world and had a vision of a beautiful woman standing on a crescent and holding Mercury’s winged staff of intertwined serpents. What she announced prompted him to write The Illumination of Koresh, and he had no choice but to found a new religion,  based on his major insight, “We Are all Inside.” 

Various people had been promoting the notion of a hollow earth, including Sir Edmund Halley, in the seventeenth century, and John Cleve Symmes, whose circular of 1818, noted: “I declare the earth is hollow and habitable within…I ask one hundred brave companions, well equipped, to start from Siberia, in the fall season, with reindeer and sleighs” to seek out a polar entrance.  It was a call to adventure, with promised riches. 
Teed sidestepped such heroic efforts: no need for reindeer excursions, as we already lived inside the hollow earth.  Koreshanity, as explained in his text Cellular Cosmogony, or, the Earth a Concave Sphere,  gained followers, as did his Koreshan Commune in Florida. Brochures urged, ‘We Live Inside! Drop in and See Us.’
Usually Teed is dismissed as proclaiming the delightfully insane idea that we live inside the hollow Earth. But he actually implied that not just the Earth as we thought of it, but the entire Universe was a sphere and we lived on its inner plane. Still bizarre, yet intriguing. To Emerson’s tragic insight “the world is all outside,” Teed countered with, “We Live Inside!” A return to the womb or announcement that everything is connected?*

*For more on hollow earth lore, read David Standish, Hollow Earth, the Long and Curious History...Da Capo, 2006. Or try Fred Nadis, Man from Mars: Ray Palmer's Amazing Pulp Journey (Tarcher/Penguin, June 2013) for the connection between hollow earth theory, occultism, and pulp science fiction of the 1940s.

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