Mount Shasta, a volcano that is said to erupt every few hundred years, has long been the source of a number of popular myths and legends. It is located at the southern end of the Cascade Range in California and stands at 14,179 feet tall, making it the fifth-highest peak in the state.
Human habitation near Mount Shasta dates back to around 7,000 years ago. Many Native American tribes, including the Achomawi, Atsugewi, Karuk, Shasta and others, were greeted by Euro-American explorers in the surrounding area near the end of the 19th century.
A volcanic eruption supposedly occurred on September 7th, 1786 and was witnessed by the Count of Lapérouse, Jean François de Galaup, although Siskiyous College disputed this claim in 2007 in an online article that is no longer available.
Many settlers and fortune-seekers flooded the area in the 1850s after the California Gold Rush started to gain steam. During this time, Elias Pearce successfully scaled the massive mountain after a few earlier failed attempts. Years later, others followed in his footsteps and hiked their way up to the peak. One adventurer, John Muir, wrote an article titled Snow-Storm on Mount Shasta that detailed his harrowing experience:
“…We began to force our way down the eastern ridge, past [a] group of hissing fumaroles. The storm at once became inconceivably violent, with scarce a preliminary scowl. The thermometer fell twenty-two degrees, and soon sank below zero. Hail gave place to snow, and darkness came on like night. The wind rising to the highest pitch of violence, boomed and surged like breakers on a rocky coast. The lightnings flashed amid the desolate crags in terrible accord, their tremendous muffled detonations unrelieved by a single echo, and seeming to come thudding passionately forth from out the very heart of the storm…”
“…The marvelous lavishness of the snow can be conceived only by mountaineers. The crystal flowers seemed to touch one another and fairly to thicken the blast. This was the booming time, the summer of the storm, and never before have I seen mountain cloud flowering so profusely. When the bloom of the Shasta chaparral is falling, the ground is covered for hundreds of square miles to the depth of half an inch; but the bloom of our Shasta cloud grew and matured and fell to a depth of two feet in less than a single day. Some crystals caught on my sleeve, and, examined under a lens, presented all their rays exquisitely perfect; but most were more or less bruised by striking against one another, or by falling and rolling over and over on the ground and rising again. The storm blast, laden with this fine-ground Alpine snow dust, can not long be braved with impunity, and the strongest mountaineer is glad to turn and flee…”
Myths and legends
Several well-known tales augment the mystery that surrounds Mount Shasta:
The Ascended Masters
Writer and founder of the “I AM” religion Guy Warren Ballard (or Godfré Ray King) released a 1934 book titled Unveiled Mysteries in which he described his experience of meeting Saint Germain on the slopes of Mount Shasta, as well as the subsequent knowledge he gained about strange beings known as the “Ascended Masters”:
“The Ascended Masters are great spiritual teachers who have mastered the relationship between thought and feeling and have learned to manifest the ‘Luminous Essence of Divine Love.’ These Ascended Masters have ascended to a higher dimension from which they guard and help the evolving human race.”
“…[Saint Germain] is the same Great Masterful ‘Presence’ who worked at the Court of France previous to and during the French Revolution…”
Some historians think Ballard’s “Saint Germain” was actually borrowed from the Count of Saint-Germain (Comte de Saint-Germain), who lived from 1710 to 1780 in France. He was said to have been very influential at the Court of France, a founder of freemasonry and discoverer of a substance that allegedly could prolong someone’s life.
In the book Return of the Magi, author Maurice Magre wrote:
“Between 1880 and 1900 it was admitted among all theosophists, who at that time had become very numerous, particularly in England and America, that the Comte de Saint Germain was still alive, that he was still engaged in the spiritual development of the West, and that those who sincerely took part in this development had the possibility of meeting him.”
Lemuria: Mount Shasta’s secret hidden city
“Lemuria” is a name coined by mid-19th century paleontologists to describe a hypothetical long-lost continent which bridged Madagascar and India. This would apparently explain the migration of lemurs, a strepsirrhine primate, from one nation to another. Some Occultists even thought that not only lemurs resided on the continent, but advanced intelligent beings as well. By the end of the 1800s, the supposed location of Lemuria had changed multiple times.
In 1899, Frederick Spencer Oliver, a Yreka, California resident and author, released the book A Dweller on Two Planets which, at one point, speculated Lemuria might actually be found inside Mount Shasta. Another author, known as Selvius, wrote the 1925 publication titled Descendants of Lemuria: A Description of an Ancient Cult in America that focused entirely on a mystical Lemurian village in the mountain. Writer Wisar Spenle Cerve expanded on Selvius’ thoughts in his book Lemuria: The Lost Continent of the Pacific.
The Adventures of Trail & Hitch neatly summed up the legend of Lemuria as it relates to Mount Shasta:
“A continent called Lemuria exists beneath Mt. Shasta. Lemuria sunk and the people had fled to the hollow earth below the mountain. Living deep inside Mt. Shasta, these seven foot tall graceful beings dwell in apartments plated with gold. They have long, flowing hair, dress in white robes and sandals. Upon their long, slender necks are beautiful decorative collars made of beads or precious stones. Upon the center of their foreheads, protrudes a walnut-sized organ which give Lemurians a sixth-sense and enables them to communicate by extra-sensory perception.”
Other myths, legends and sightings
The “Bell Ringers,” or followers of the Yanktayvlans, are also said to live inside Mount Shasta. Hikers in the area have sometimes reported hearing strange bell sounds coming from within the mountain. The purpose of the sounds is unknown, but many think they lure curious visitors into pitfall traps where the mysterious hermits then emerge to abduct them, never to be seen again.
Nola Van Valer, a resident of Shasta City, was interviewed by author Emilie A. Frank for her book Mt. Shasta – California’s Mystic Mountain. During the interview, Van Valer described an extraordinary encounter with Phylos the Tibetan, another Ascended Master. She said she was resting with friends atop the mountain when a large black rock formation suddenly opened up, revealing a temple door. Startled, but curious, Van Valer and her friends entered the remarkable structure and saw a large white table decorated with gold. A voice spoke to them, insisting they sit down. This is where Phylos the Tibetan appeared before the group.
UFO sightings are also common near the mountain. Paranoia Magazine wrote about a particular story involving the local police:
“Back in the fall of 1963, a Shasta police officer claimed to have seen a flying saucer, which he said was disc-shaped, about 50 feet long, with a row of lights along its side. They changed from green to red to silver. After hovering for awhile over the mountain, it sped away with the speed of light.”
“On another moonlight night, a UFO paused above the officer’s patrol car so closely he believed he could have touched it. This one was saucer-shaped and appeared to have pipes running under its side.”
“The officer immediately radioed the police station and told the dispatcher, David Frank, to go quickly outside and look north. David later reported he [saw] a great blue light hovering brilliantly. Then it sped away and disappeared beyond one of the ridges of Shasta.”
Have you ever been to Mount Shasta? Leave a comment below describing your experience.
Main Image Credit: Ruben Garcia Jr.
For as little as $1, you can help keep this site up and running. Thank you!