Atlantis – follow the flax

So here is one of those multifaceted things that tends to crop up from time to time to illicit some curiosity in me; you know my 3-times rule, wherefore I then write about what has occurred.


Chia seeds.

First up, I was involved in a little group conversation online about porridge/oatmeal, and Flax seeds got mentioned. I mentioned in reply that I have sometimes put Chia seeds in porridge (since I have a bag full I also sprinkle them on salad too).


Later that day I settled into my arm chair, complete with cat on lap (I’m not an old man, honest) and continued reading a book I’ve been working my way through this month. The topic of Chia seeds cropped up again. The book? One about Atlantis.

In Jürgen Spanuth’s 1979 book ‘Atlantis of the North’ he argues that Atlantis was indeed located in the North Sea in the area of ​​what is today the island of Heligoland. As for the topic of flax, on p.139-40 he notes:

Possibly the symbol used for flax.

…Ramases III [1200-1168 BC] marks the Northern Peoples [who Spanuth claims are the Atlanteans] and their allies with a flax plant as a symbol of their northern origin, probably because flax, which is native to the oceanic climate of the North Sea and Baltic area, was principally grown by the people there and was characteristic of them.

That flax was already cultivated and woven in the Nordic culture area in the Neolithic period, is shown by a find from a house-site in Øxenberg on Fyn, where an ox-horn was discovered bound with a linen thread.

The imprints of flax seeds have often been found on clay vessels dating from the Bronze Age. Clearly the seeds must have been added to bread or other food to enrich it with their oil. But the find at Øxenberg is the earliest evidence anywhere of the spinning of flax into thread. It may be assumed that during the following centuries this craft was improved and refined in the Nordic area.


After I’d had enough reading that book, I took myself off to bed, where I sat and read through some more of The Children’s Encyclopedia, this year it’s Volume 7 I’m working my way through. I had arrived at the Stories section on p.4483, and would you believe, a story called The First Flax Grower.

It tells of “a certain peasant living in the Tirol who was very poor, but neither envious nor greedy.”

He lived in the valley, and in the summer he spent his days guarding sheep on the mountain. He used to look up at the white snow-caps and down at the flowery world… [and hoped to] One day … be able to buy a sheep or two of [his] own.

One fine morning the peasant saw a chamois [a species of goat-antelope], just out of arrow-reach. He picked up his cross-bow and followed it… up and up the mountain… to the region of eternal snow. Here was a great glacier, or ice-stream. All at once the chamois, which had been going at a sober pace, bounded off, and was lost to sight in an instant. The peasant felt he could climb no farther, and he was about to return… when he caught sight of a cave in the ice. He entered, and found himself in a wonderful hall, supported by stalactites that stretched from roof to floor like columns of crystal. As he advanced farther he found that it was furnished like a palace, with all sorts of precious things, and suddenly he came on a group of beings seated about one who seemed to be their queen. They wore robes like silver mist, and crowns of Alpine roses in their hair.

They were all lovely, but the queen was bright with a wonderful radiance that filled the peasant with awe. He dropped on his knees, and craved the strange beings to pardon him for his invasion. The queen spoke in a voice more beautiful than that of brook or bird.

“Go in peace,” she said, “and take with you whatever you choose.”

Now, the peasant was so exalted by the sight of this faerie world that he had no care for gold or jewels. He begged of the queen: “Lady, give me the blue flowers you are holding!”

She smiled, and gave him the nosegay. “As long as these flowers are fresh you shall live. I will give you a measure of seed also. Plant it and guard it well. Now go, wise chooser.”

The peasant stumbled out, clutching his flowers and his bag of seed, and went home still dazed by what he had seen… [The] seed was sown, and in due time up came a crop of heavenly blue, the first flax flowers. When the blossom was over a tall woman appeared in the field. She told the peasant how to harvest the flax, and how to spin and weave the linen from it. Very soon the whole countryside was coming to buy this wonderful new material, and the peasant never went cold or hungry again…

One day, when the peasant was a very old man, and his wife was sleeping in the churchyard, he saw that the faerie flowers were beginning to wither.

“My time is come,” he said. He bade his friends farewell, divided up his goods, and then set off for the mountain.

It is said that a hunter saw him enter a cave in the ice, which no one ever saw again. Certainly he never returned.

I couldn’t help wondering whilst reading this tale if the peasant had met with Atlanteans in that ice cave in the mountains. Perhaps it not only tells of how Flax alone was first harvested but how agriculture first began; some might say the knowledge was passed down from some ancient race as this, or even was brought here by beings from other worlds. This wouldn’t be the first time I’ve read a tale in the Children’s Encyclopedia and considered it in this way.

As if three strikes of curiousity wasn’t enough, I had a fourth the next day:


Step By Step – Simon Reeve’s latest book.

Simon Reeve was a guest on the BBC Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Show for the What Makes Us Human segment. Reeve is a modern-day explorer (and presenter) and his take on the topic was that the desire to explore is what makes us human. I don’t think this is true for everyone, but perhaps if one grows up without the freedom to explore from a young age then the desire may not develop or ever emerge; a package holiday to a foreign country is as much as one might do. I am the opposite; I enjoy my freedom to travel about and explore places, even if it is mostly only in my neck of the woods. Reeve told listeners to get out and explore; maybe don’t watch other people doing just that on TV/Youtube quite so much!

Me exploring Corrimony Cairn in Scotland, 2016.

I’ve never really taken to Reeve and his style of presenting; some time ago I watched some of a Jamie Theakston “Forgotten History” series and they both seem to me to present from a position of implied naivety, but listening to Reeve on Radio 2 I connected with him in various ways, in particular our similar upbringings; we both had the freedom as children to explore and build dens, and in our teens we got ourselves into trouble by pushing things too far, and being fortunate to come out the other side of it unscathed.

Reeve got talking about Ötzi and this is where this fourth curiosity comes about.

Ötzi, also known as the Tyrolean Iceman, is a well-preserved natural mummy of a man, found in 1991 on the Ötztal Alps. He was at first was believed to be a relatively modern-day deceased mountaineer due to how well he was preserved and the quality of his clothing, but it was soon determined that he was about four thousand years old; It has since been determined that he lived between 3400 and 3100 BCE. His body and belongings are displayed in a museum in Italy.

The way Reeve described Ötzi and his belongings was fascinating to me; this person was well equipped for travelling in the region he was found in. As Wikipedia states:

[His] shoes were waterproof and wide, seemingly designed for walking across the snow; they were constructed using bearskin for the soles, deer hide for the top panels, and a netting made of tree bark. Soft grass went around the foot and in the shoe and functioned like modern socks. The coat, belt, leggings and loincloth were constructed of vertical strips of leather sewn together with sinew. His belt had a pouch sewn to it that contained a cache of useful items: a scraper, drill, flint flake, bone awl and a dried fungus.

Other items found with the Iceman were a copper axe with a yew handle, a chert-bladed knife with an ash handle and a quiver of 14 arrows with viburnum and dogwood shafts. Two of the arrows, which were broken, were tipped with flint and had fletching (stabilizing fins), while the other 12 were unfinished and untipped. The arrows were found in a quiver with what is presumed to be a bow string, an unidentified tool, and an antler tool which might have been used for sharpening arrow points. There was also an unfinished yew longbow that was 1.82 metres (72 in) long.

In addition, among Ötzi’s possessions were berries, two birch bark baskets, and two species of polypore mushrooms with leather strings through them. One of these, the birch fungus, is known to have anthelmintic properties, and was probably used for medicinal purposes. The other was a type of tinder fungus, included with part of what appeared to be a complex firelighting kit. The kit featured pieces of over a dozen different plants, in addition to flint and pyrite for creating sparks.

I couldn’t help but compare the mental image formed in my mind of Ötzi with that of the hunter in previously mentioned tale. Both wanderers in the mountains but the latter showing more accurately how one needs to dress and be equipped for such an environment, whereas the peasant of the tale seems to wander off casually into the icy mountains, an unlikely event. Perhaps Ötzi was the man returning to the mountains once he had decided his time had come.

Was Ötzi a lone wandering Atlantean? Spanuth talks (as others have done) about how, following the deluge and destruction of Atlantis, the Atlanteans flee and scatter about the world, taking with them their skills and knowledge, mostly with Egypt being their destination in mind. The exact order of happenings is somewhat muddled to me, but in one rendition these nomads settle (at least for a time) in various places and construct what are now the megalithic sites and stone circles such as Stonehenge.

The segment on Radio 2 ended with a note about how Reeve, upon leaving with him, rather than disposing of his empty disposable cup of tea in a general waste bin sought out a recycling bin – I would totally have done that! Although, doesn’t the BBC not offer its guests proper drinks from proper cups? And there seems to be a lack of recycling going on at the BBC, which is surprising considering Vine is there.

EDIT: A couple of months later I read the story of The Sleeping Beauty from page 4614 of The Children’s Encyclopedia.

The earliest known version of the story is found in the narrative Perceforest, composed between 1330 and 1344… [a] later [version was] collected and printed by the Brothers Grimm. – Wikipedia

The version in the Encyclopedia of the well known story tells of seven fairies coming to act as godmothers to the princess. Six of them each provide christening gifts of:

  1. angelic beauty
  2. angelic goodness
  3. genius
  4. exquisite gracefulness
  5. sweetness of voice
  6. ever other gift

An ugly old fairy gives the ‘godchild’ the gift of being pricked by a spindle and of dying from the wound. The youngest of good fairies, while unable to save the princess is able to put her into a sleep lasting 100 years. The king bans the use of a spindle to try and protect his daughter but when the princess is 16 years old she meets an old woman spinning flax with a spindle and staff and gets pricked and falls into that deep sleep. It’s not until 100 years later that a brave prince finds the sleeping princess and kisses her causing her to wake up.


  1. This kind of serendipity happens to me all the time. The other day I was writing a word – I can’t remember what it was but it wasn’t a common word – when at the exact same moment someone said that word on the radio. I’ve been humming a song that I’m sure I haven’t heard for years and turned on the radio to find it playing (there were no other radios within earshot) – so many of these incidents that I can’t keep track of them. The flax thing does seem to be determined to follow you around though…

  2. Serendipity – love it. Seems the Universe is connected in some way.

    Flax is fascinating. That the fibers can be soaked, beat, dried and spun to create such fine cloth is a testament to the creative ingenuity of our ancestors.

    I suspect Santorini or Doggerland are the basis for the Atlantian legend.

    • Spanuth, who I mentioned above, dismisses Mediterranean sites for Atlantis and therefore would rule out Santorini – I’m not convinced either. He doesn’t seem to mention Doggerland in the book I’ve just read (it’s not in the index), although his ‘Atlantis of the North’ approach suggests it should be considered. As someone suggests on Wikipedia:Talk for that location (Atlantis isn’t mentioned on the main page) “there is a lot of reason to think that one could make money by writing a pseudoscientific book claiming that the Atlantis myth originally referred to the island that is now the Dogger bank.”

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