Friday, November 20, 2009

John Uri Lloyd, Etidorhpa and Human Destiny

"Some of us come into the world to teach, we cannot evade our destiny. Whether we teach from our own selves or from others, is of no moment, the important point is whether we teach properly. Will the result of our instruction tend to elevate the thought of others and thus lead to truth and self humility, to love and charity? Etidorhpa is not an idle creation. The mission of this book is unseen by most of its readers. The thought current will be felt though by every reader and it pains me to appreciate the fact that to some the beauties of the work will serve but to deepen their hatred of conceptions holy and sublime."
-John Uri Lloyd, in a letter dated 1895.


John Uri Lloyd was a well known chemist and pharmaceutical scientist of the late 1800's and early 1900's. He began his career as a chemist's apprentice in Cincinnati, Ohio and was soon invited to join a botanical group of chemists known as the Eclectics.

Lloyd kept his assoociation with the Eclectics while eventually forming his own pharmaceutical research and production company with his brothers Ashley and Curtis, both trained chemists.

John Parascandola, in the Dictionary of Scientific Biography says that "Lloyd was a pioneer in the application of physical chemistry to pharmaceutical techniques."

Among Lloyd's numerous innovations was his "cold still". In U.S. Patent 777,115 Lloyd says "The object of my invention is an apparatus for making solutions, such as extracts and abstracts, whereby the substance held in solution is not changed by heat, by which the strength of the solution may be changed readily to suit the case..."

Though the production of pharmaceuticals was his livelihood, Lloyd had other passions along with his brother Curtis, namely books on science, alchemy and all things botanical. Curtis Lloyd was a bibliophile and a mycologist. He spent much of his time devoted to travelling the globe in search of books for the Lloyd Library and anything to do with mushrooms.

J. Augustus Knapp

It was while working for the Standard Publishing Company that Curtis met the artist and illustrator J. Augustus Knapp.
Knapp did the illustrations for John Uri Lloyd's first novel Etidorpha (Aphrodite backwards). Knapp also did the illustations for a deck of Tarot cards commissioned by Manley P. Hall, one of the top Masonic historians of the twentieth century.

Etidorhpa is a unique book. Lloyd had written only scientific articles previous to 1895 and the book seemed to come out of the blue. Many consider this book to be the flight of fantasy of a scientific mind, but in light of recent scientific developments, check out this quote:

"Further development may enable men to picture the figures engraved on the convolutions [of the brain], and at last to read the thoughts that are engraved within the brains of others, and thus through material investigation the observer will perceive the recorded thought of another person. An instrument capable of searching and illuminating the retina could be easily affixed to the eye of a criminal, after which, if the mind of the person operated upon were stimulated by the suggestion of an occurrence either remote or recent, the mind faculty would excite the brain, produce the record, and spread the circumstances as a picture before the observer. The brain would tell its own story, and the investigator could read the truth as recorded in the brain of the other man. A criminal subjected to such an examination could not tell an untruth, or equivocate; his very brain would present itself to the observer."

The title page reads: ETIDORHPA, THE STRANGE HISTORY OF A MYSTERIOUS BEING AND THE ACCOUNT OF A REMARKABLE JOURNEY AS COMMUNICATED IN MANUSCRIPT TO LLEWELLYN DRURY WHO PROMISED TO PRINT THE SAME, BUT FINALLY EVADED THE RESPONSIBILITY WHICH WAS ASSUMED BY JOHN URI LLOYD.

The story is about William Morgan, whose disappearance in 1826 sparked the Anti-Masonic movement which continued until it lost steam around 1835. Lloyd does not name Morgan but gives all the details of the well-publicised events (but strangely getting the month of Morgan's kidnapping wrong).

The protagonist of Etidorhpa is researching alchemy and he receives a mysterious and authoritative letter telling him to join a certain secret society and then write a book revealing its secrets. There is no public evidence that Morgan was interested in alchemy, but most of the recounting of the Morgan affair is done by Masons themselves (to control how people perceive the events) and they may not want people to know this fact or be unaware of it themselves.

The letter says in part:

"The world is nearly ripe for the wisdom faculty, and men are ready to unravel the golden threads that mystic wisdom has inwoven in her web of secret knowledge. Look for knowledge where I have indicated, and to gain it do not hesitate to swear allegiance to this sacred order, for so you must do to gain entrance to the brotherhood, and then you must act what men will call the traitor. You will, however, be doing a sacred duty, for the world will profit, humanity will be the gainer, " Peace on Earth, Good Will to Man," will be closer to mankind, and at last, when the sign appears, the " white elixir " will no longer be allegorical; it will become a reality. In the name of the Great Mystic Vase-Man, go thou into these lodges, learn of their secrets, and spread their treasures before those who can interpret them."


The protagonist who goes by the name I-Am-The-Man-Who-Did-It is then kidnapped, put through a Masonic death and rebirth ritual (the entire book may be one), has his features changed into that of an old man so that no one recognises him and is then taken to a remote location where he enters into the earth guided by a non-human being.

Many underlying realities, such as telepathy, are revealed:

"There will be an unconscious development of new mind-forces in the student of nature as the rudiments of these so-called sciences are elaborated. Step by step, as the ages pass, the faculties of
men will, under progressive series of evolutions, imperceptibly pass into higher phases until that which is even now possible with some individuals of the purified esoteric school, but which would seem miraculous if practiced openly at this day, will prove feasible to humanity generally and be found in exact accord with natural laws."

and:

" It has been ordained that a select few must from time to time pass over the threshold that divides a mortal's present life from the future, and your lot has been cast among the favored ones. It is or should be deemed a privilege to be permitted to pass farther than human philosophy has yet gone, into an investigation of the problems of life; this I say to encourage you. We have in our order a handful of persons who have received the calculated fruits of the close attention others have given to these subjects which have been handed to them by the generations of men who have preceded. You are destined to become as they are. This study of semi-occult forces has enabled those selected for the work to master some of the concealed truths of being, and by the partial development of a new sense or new senses, partly to triumph over death. These facts are hidden from ordinary man, and from the earth-bound workers of our brotherhood, who can not even interpret the words they learn. The methods by which they are elucidated have been locked from man because the world is not prepared to receive them, selfishness being the ruling passion of debased mankind, and publicity, until the chain of evidence is more complete, would embarrass their further evolutions, for man as yet lives on the selfish plane."

" Do you mean that, among men, there are a few persons possessed of powers such as you have mentioned?"

" Yes; they move here and there through all orders of society, and their attainments are unknown, except to one another, or, at most, to but few persons. These adepts are scientific men, and may not even be recognized as members of our organization; indeed it is often necessary, for obvious reasons, that they should not be known as such. These studies must constantly be prosecuted in various directions, and some monitors must teach others to perform certain duties that are necessary to the grand evolution. Hence, when a man has become one of our brotherhood, from the promptings that made you one of us, and has been as ready and determined to instruct outsiders in our work as you have been, it is proper that he should in turn be compelled to serve our people, and eventually, mankind."

As he is taken further into the earth it is revealed that immense cavities exist at various levels each with its own type of reality. The creature guiding him gives various dissertations on the nature of food, light, energy and the general ignorence of men and science.

"Near surface earth we passed through caverns filled with creeping reptiles; through others we were surrounded by flying creatures, neither beast nor bird; we passed through passages of ooze and labyrinths of apparently interminable intra-earth structures; to have disported on such features of my journey would have been impracticable. From time to time I experienced strains of melody, such as never before had I conceived, seemingly choruses of angels were singing in and to my very soul. From empty space about me, from out the crevices beyond and behind me, from the depths of my spirit within me, came these strains in notes clear and distinct, but yet indescribable. Did I fancy, or was it real? I will not pretend to say. Flowers and structures beautiful, insects gorgeous and inexplicable were spread before me. Figures and forms I can not attempt to indicate in word descriptions, ever and anon surrounded, accompanied, and passed me by. The canvas conceptions of earth-bred artists bring to mind no forms so strange and weird and yet so beautiful as were these compound beings. Restful beyond description was it to drink in the indescribable strains of poetry of motion that I appreciated in the movements of fair creatures I have not mentioned, and it was no less soothing to experience the soul relief wrought by the sounds about me, for musicians know no notes so sweet and entrancing."

" There were also, in side caverns to which I was led, combinations of sounds and scenes in which floating strains and
fleeting figures were interwoven and interlaced so closely that the senses of both sight and hearing became blended into a single sense, new, weird, strange, and inexpressible. As flavor is the combination of odor and taste, and is neither taste nor odor, so these sounds and scenes combined were neither scenes' nor sounds, but a complex sensation, new, delicious. Sometimes I begged to be permitted to stop and live forever 'mid those heavenly charms, but with as firm a hand as when helping me through the chambers of mire, ooze, and creeping reptiles, my guide drew me onward"

At one point they enter a cavern filled with exotic and edible fungii...


"Along the chamber through which we now passed I saw by the mellow light great pillars, capped with umbrella-like covers, some of them reminding me of the common toadstool of upper Earth, on a magnificent scale. Instead, however, of the grey and somber shades to which I had been accustomed, these objects were of various hues and combined the brillancy of the primary prismatic colors, with the purity of clean snow. Now they would stand solitary, like sentinels; again they would be arranged in rows, the alingment as true as if established by the hair of a transit, forming columnar avenues, and in other situations they were wedged together so as to produce masses, acres in extent, in which the stems became hexagonal by compression. The columnar stems, larger than my body, were often spiral; again they were marked by diamond-shaped figures, or other geometrical forms in relief, beautifully exact, drawn as by a master’s hand in rich and delicately blended colors, on pillars of pure alabaster. Not a few of the stems showed deep crimson, blue or green, together with other rich colors combined; over which, as delicate as the rarest of lace, would be thrown, in white, an enamel-like intracate tracery, far surpassing in beauty of execution the most exquisite needle-work I had ever seen. There could be no doubt I was in a forest of collossal fungi, the species of which are more numerous than those of upper earth, cryptomatic vegetation."

Then this revealing statement:

"These meandering caverns comprise thousands of miles of surface covered by these growths which may yet fulfill a grand purpose in the ceremony of nature, for they are destined to feed tramping multitudes when the day appears in which the nations of men will desert the surface of the earth and pass as a single people through these caverns on their way to the immaculate existence to be found in the inner sphere.”

Crystal Caves in Mexico

Even today there are only hints at what lurks benaeth the surface of our Earth and beyond the limits of common knowledge.

1 comment:

Paul said...

Hello ZHP - I am also a student of the book Etidorhpa. Your review and comments are very astute and very much appreciated. I have read the book several times, and always manage to find something new with subsequent readings. A certain later chapter indicates how, if not when and why, the soul of man is encased in flesh, and how many will ultimately remove the earthly covering. The whole thrust of the changing conditions described in the narration points to several planes of existence and their corresponding consciousness. I'm convinced the book is not a work of fiction. You might want to check out my few Blog postings at http://pablosview.blogspot.com/