In their search for the ultimate mythical and cultural roots of their self-proclaimed “master race,” the proponents of Aryanism turned away from the hot biblical Garden of Eden in Mesopotamia and instead looked to the cool, unspoiled wilderness of the Far North.
With his unique combination of Eastern mysticism and astronomy, the polymath Jean-Sylvain Bailly (1736–1793) had already laid a lot of the groundwork for a radical reinterpretation of how people came to be. Bailly says that the ancient cultures of Egypt, Chaldea, China, and India were actually the keepers of a much older body of knowledge that was once held by a superior culture that lived in the ancient North but has since disappeared.
Bailly thought that this very old culture came up with the zodiac around 4600 BC.
People from this culture moved from northern Asia to India after the Flood. Bailly’s claim was backed up by the fact that some legends from later cultures that lived far away from each other were similar.
For example, the story of the Phoenix is told in both Egypt and the Scandinavian Eddas (discussed in Chapter One). Bailly said that the details of the Phoenix’s death and rebirth were like the Sun going away for 65 days every year at 71° North latitude. He then said that the Phoenix was like the Roman god Janus, who was the god of time. Janus is shown with the number 300 in his right hand and the number 65 in his left. This is because in the far north, there are 300 days of light and 65 days of darkness every year. Bailly came to the conclusion that Janus was really a god from the north whose worshipers had moved south a long time ago. Bailly also used the story of Adonis to back up his theory. According to the story, Jupiter told Adonis that he had to spend one-third of each year on Mount Olympus, one-third with Venus, and one-third with Persephone in Hades. Bailly connected this story to the fact that the Sun goes away for four months (one-third of the year) in a place at 79° North latitude.
Bailly thought this was a strong sign that the ancient knowledge of a previously unknown Nordic civilization, which had been passed down through legends, had been kept alive. These ideas were similar to the work of a man named Comte de Buffon, who came to the conclusion in 1749 that the Earth was formed much earlier than the Christian date of 4004 BC. However, Buffon’s date of 73,083 BC is still a long way from the actual age of the Earth, which is about 4,000 million years. In his plan for how the world came to be, Buffon thought it made sense that the polar regions would have been the first to cool down enough to allow life to start, so he put the first human civilization in the far north. For Bailly, this was more than enough proof that the Arctic was the place where humans first appeared. The reason this first civilization moved south became clear: temperate climates are best for social, intellectual, and scientific progress. As the polar regions got too cold and the temperatures in the south went from dry to temperate, it became clear that the people had to move away from the polar regions.
When Chaldea, India, and China were reached, the journey was finally over. The Indian Bal Gangadhar Tilak (1856–1920), who wrote The Arctic Home in the Vedas while in prison in 1897 for publishing anti-British material in his newspaper The Kesan, also thought that people should have a home in the Arctic.
Published in 1903, Tilak’s book focuses on the age and original location of the Indian Vedic civilization, from its beginnings in the Arctic around 10,000 BC to its destruction during the last Ice Age; the migration to northern Europe and Asia in 8000-5000 BC and the writing of the Vedic hymns; the loss of the Arctic traditions around 3000-1400 BC; and the Pre-Buddhist period in 1400-500 BC.
Tilak’s reading of the ancient Vedic texts, which talked about a place where the gods lived and the sun rose and set once a year, backed up his claim that there was a prehistoric home in the far north. Godwin says this about Tilak’s understanding of the Vedic hymns: “The hymns are full of images that don’t make sense in the context of a daily sunrise, like the Thirty Dawn-Sisters spinning around like a wheel” and the “Dawn of Many Days” that comes before the sun rising. But if you put them on the North Pole, they make perfect sense.
At least 30 days before the sun rose every year, its light could be seen as it circled below the horizon. One can imagine how excited the people were as the light on the wheel got brighter and the long winter night came to an end.
H. S. Spencer, a Zoroastrian scholar, built on Tilak’s ideas about where people came from in his 1965 book The Aryan Ecliptic Cycle. In this book, Spencer looks at the Zoroastrian scriptures in much the same way that Tilak looked at the Vedic scriptures. Spencer drew a parallel between things that happened in the Bible and the way the sun moved during the precession of the equinoxes. (At this point, we should take a moment to look at what’s going on. The Earth’s axis of rotation is not in a straight line with the plane where the rest of the Solar System is. Instead, it is tilted by 23 1/2°. Due to the Sun and Moon’s and Earth’s gravitational pulls, the axis of the Earth’s rotation “wobbles” or, to be more precise, moves in a circle. As the planet spins, so does its axis. Once every 26,000 years, the two make a full circle. In this way, Spencer was able to date the events in the Zoroastrian scriptures with a lot of accuracy. Spencer said that the first time Aryans lived in the polar regions was in the year 25,628 BC.
This was during the Interglacial Age. The Aryans had to leave their home country because it kept getting colder and more dangerous, and huge reptiles started to show up. (How the reptiles could have lived in the cold is a different question.) Spencer says that the beginning of the Ice Age, which drove the Aryans away from their nice home, was just one of several global disasters that brought down at least three other ancient civilizations: Atlantis, Lemuria, and the people who lived where the Gobi Desert is now. Spencer says that the great civilizations of Egypt, Sumer, and Babylon were shaped by the Aryan tradition.