Ignatius Donnelly

The Deluge Legends of America

Alfred Maury noted that American flood legends closely resemble those of the Bible and Chaldean records, suggesting a common origin from Atlantis rather than migration from Asia. Atlantis had longstanding interactions with the Americas, with its colonies spread across the continent.

Mexican (Aztec) Traditions

  • Coxcox/Tezpi Legend: Coxcox and his wife, Xochiquetzal, survived the flood in a bark or raft. After the flood, Tezpi sent birds to find dry land, similar to Noah’s story. A hummingbird returned with a leafy branch, indicating the flood’s end.
  • Codex Vaticanus: Describes four ages of the world, with the last ending in a great flood. Coxcox and Xochiquetzal survive on a tree-trunk.

Toltec Legends

  • Toltec Flood Story: Describes a flood covering the earth and a close chest (toptlipetlocali) in which survivors escape. This is reminiscent of the biblical flood and Noah’s ark.
  • Migration from Aztlan: The Toltecs migrated from Aztlan (Atlantis), a beautiful land, after a great flood.

Central American Legends

  • Popul Vuh: Describes a great flood caused by the god Hurakan, resulting in a resinous rain and darkness, akin to the Chaldean and biblical accounts.
  • Quiche Legends: Mention migration from the East, across the sea, after a great flood, indicating a connection to Atlantis.

North American Tribes

  • Mandans: Celebrated a festival involving a “Big Canoe,” representing the ark. They have a legend of a white man who survived a flood and brought the news of the disaster.
  • Iroquois, Chickasaws, Sioux: All have flood legends involving a single family or person surviving and repopulating the earth.

Other Native American Traditions

  • Pimas: Their legend involves Szeu-kha (Zeus?), who survived a flood by floating on a ball of resin.
  • Okanagaus: Their myth speaks of a lost island pushed to sea during a flood, from which only a man and woman survived.
  • Nicaraguans and Apaches: Both have flood legends, with the Apaches including a tower-building attempt destroyed by the Great Spirit.

    Common Themes and Connections:

    • Survival and Rebirth: Many legends involve a single family or person surviving a global flood and repopulating the earth.
    • Divine Intervention: Gods or spirits often warn of the flood and provide means of survival.
    • Symbolic Representations: The use of boats, arks, or rafts to escape the flood, similar to the story of Noah.
    • Cultural Echoes: Names and themes in these legends echo those from other flood myths, suggesting a shared origin or influence from Atlantis.

    These flood legends from the Americas show remarkable similarities to those from the Old World, indicating a possible common origin from the lost civilization of Atlantis.

    Some Considerations of the Deluge Legends

    Volcanic Activity and the Great Deep

    Atlantis, believed to have been destroyed by a volcanic convulsion, likely had volcanoes, as indicated by the volcanic activity along the mid-Atlantic ridge, stretching from Iceland to St. Helena. Examples of similar phenomena include the eruption of the volcano Galung Gung in Java, which threw out immense columns of hot water and boiling mud, and the creation of a volcanic island near Sicily in 1831 accompanied by a sixty-foot-high water-spout. The volcanic activity in Dominica in January 1880, which included the emission of mud and sulphur-laden rain, mirrors descriptions of the Deluge in ancient legends.

    Fountains of the Great Deep

    Biblical references to “the fountains of the great deep” breaking up during the Deluge likely describe volcanic activity similar to the accounts in Dominica and other historical eruptions. The Chaldean legend’s “terrible water-spout” and the Aramæan tradition’s “enormous volumes of water” issuing from the earth reflect similar events. This volcanic activity, combined with earthquakes, would have contributed to the destruction of Atlantis.

    The Mountains of the North

    Plato described the mountains of Atlantis as lofty and precipitous, a description that aligns with the Azores’ current elevation. The Chaldean and Hindoo legends also reference significant mountains, like the Mountain of Nizir and the Mountain of the North, respectively.

    Mud and Navigation

    Plato mentioned that navigation ceased in the area of Atlantis due to the mud left behind after its sinking. This aligns with the Chaldean legend where humanity returned to mud and the “Popol Vuh” describing a “resinous thickness.” Historical volcanic eruptions have shown similar impacts, such as the eruption in Iceland in 1783, which covered the sea with pumice, and the Sumbawa eruption in 1815, which impeded ships with floating cinders.

    Preservation of Records

    Multiple ancient legends speak of preserving knowledge before the Deluge. In Egyptian myths, Thoth inscribed principles of knowledge on stelæ. Josephus mentioned Seth erecting pillars with inscribed knowledge. Chaldean legends describe Khasisatra burying inscribed tables in the City of the Sun. These stories suggest an ancient practice of preserving wisdom against cataclysms.

    Successive Catastrophes

    Central American traditions, confirmed by the ship Challenger’s explorations, describe multiple catastrophic events leading to the destruction of land extending into the Atlantic. This is consistent with geological evidence and aligns with Welsh and Greek legends of successive deluges.

    Festivals and Religious Ceremonies

    Ancient religious ceremonies in various cultures, such as the monthly Izcalli in Central America and similar observances in Athens and Syria, commemorated these catastrophic events, suggesting a widespread recognition of such disasters.

    Primeval Religion and Civilization

    The persistent fear of cataclysms and the subsequent religious practices could explain the origin of early religious beliefs. The legends of preserving knowledge on pillars and the story of the Tower of Babel reflect the efforts of ancient civilizations to survive and maintain their culture and wisdom against the backdrop of such existential threats.

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