A proposed sunken continent between Madagascar and India conceived by Philip L. Schlater to account for the same form of lemur being found in Madagascar, mainland Africa, India and Indonesia. Lemurs can't swim, so he thought there must have once been a land bridge there.

Thought at various times to be the cradle of humanity and to have moved to the South Pacific, whose islands were its mountaintops.

Lemuria is a beautiful example of the creation of legend. As p_i indicates, towards the middle of the nineteenth century when archaeology and geology were examining things on a global scale, scientists noticed a number of connections between continents separated by thousands of miles of water. Rocks, plants, and even animals of an identical sort appeared in India, Africa, and South America. The distances were, obviously, much to great to cross by swimming or by mere migration. Geologists, therefore, postulated a giant bridge or continent of some kind that connected South Africa and India. Because one of the major pieces of evidence for this was the existance of the same kind of lemur in India and Africa, they called this theoretical chunk of land Lemuria.

Lemuria is not real. Why are the same plants, rocks, and lemurs in India and Africa? Plate tectonics. All of the evidence for Lemuria vanishes with plate tectonics. But Lemuria hasn't vanished with aether, the geocentric theory of the solar system, and other disproven scientific theories. It has persisted through the years thanks largely to one woman: Madame Blavatsky.

Using strange and magical psychic scrying powers, Madame Blavatsky determined that Lemuria resided in the Indian Ocean something like 150 million years ago. She claimed that it was populated by a race of psychic, hemaphrodite apes that somehow got by without a brain. They laid eggs and engaged in revolting sex acts. She wrote of these things in a few books towards the end of the nineteenth century.

Some modern occultists have moved Lemuria to the Pacific Ocean. Others have said that it spaned both the Indian and the Pacific. But the fact of the matter is, _it never existed_.

Lemuria is not just a utopian occult fantasy world.

It's also an ancient Roman festival of the dead.

Lemuria, celebrated by ancient Romans in early to mid-May, lasts a week and a day. It is similar in scope to other festivals of the dead, such as:


Romans believed that on May 9th, May 11th, and May 13th, the spirits of the neglected, angry or improperly buried would rise and maim or kill the living. To be on the safe side, Romans began their observations on the 7th, and continued until the 15th. This time period is known as the Lemures.

Since this month was devoted in large to rituals for the dead, it was considered unlucky to schedule happy events such as weddings during this time. Such events were put off until June, when the spirits were believed to be more benign.

Scheduled Events Include:

Temples, businesses, and public houses were closed during Lemuria, while Romans took to walking their streets and gardens beating drums to frighten the malevolent spirits back to their graves. Offerings were made at the Tiber River, perhaps symbolic of the river that divided the mortal world and the Underworld.

Cemeteries and crypts also received special attention during Lemuria. Those who cared for the graves of strangers were thought to be blessed with extra luck for the coming year.

The offerings made during Lemuria, as in Samhain and the older All Hallow's Eve traditions, are primarily good food. There is also a magical bean ritual. This food is designed to bribe the restless spirits, called lemure or larvae, from harming the living in a household.

Lemures and Larvae

Lemures came in several forms:

However, all Lemures had certain things in common. They:

The worst of the Lemures were believed to feed on human flesh or blood.

Beans, Beans, the Magical Lemure-Banishing Fruit:

On the final night of Lemuria, the male head of each household performed the following ritual to insure the safety of his family and property:

Try This at Home!

  1. Bathe and take extra care to purify hands, washing them ritually three times.
  2. Put some black beans in your mouth, and walk clockwise through the house while barefoot. Throw more beans over your shoulder, and recite prayers. No, you may not spit the beans out to pray. That's the tricky part.
  3. The householder must make the Sign of the Horns (no, I am NOT making this up) throughout the ritual. For those of you who missed out on Motley Crue 101, this means holding the pinky and forefinger up, with the thumb crossed over the middle and ring fingers. This gesture was reputed to protect the householder from venturesome ghosts.
  4. The prayers and the walk through the house should be repeated nine times, while never looking behind yourself or into any mirrors.

After the prayers and scattering of the beans (which would be picked up by any stray and hungry ghosts), the householder was required to wash his hands again before the entire family joined in the crashing of cymbals and beating of drums to encourage the Lemures to leave and return to their graves.

Happy Lemuria!

Le*mu"ri*a (?), n. [So named from the supposition that it was the original home of the lemurs.]

A hypothetical land, or continent, supposed by some to have existed formerly in the Indian Ocean, of which Madagascar is a remnant.



© Webster 1913.

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