Dear Fantasticrealists and Mythfolks,
I just saw a couple of “Fantasticreality” posts tonight discussing
Richard Shaver and Ray Palmer’s “Mantong Alphabet,” a supposed
prehistoric proto-language spoken in Atlantis and Lemuria. I think many
of you may enjoy the following article on “Ray Palmer, the ‘Shaver
Mystery,’and the ‘Mantong’ Language” that I sent to some of my friends a
few years ago. My article describes Richard Shever’s original invention
of the “Mantong Alphabet,” and Ray Palmer’s popularization of it in
_Amazing Stories_ magazine in the 1940’s.
RAY PALMER, THE “SHAVER MYSTERY,” AND THE “MANTONG” LANGUAGE
People interested in the origin of language or in constructed
languages like Esperanto, Ido, Interlingua, Volapuk, Loglan, and Lojban
may get a few laughs out of the late Ray Palmer’s “Mantong Alphabet.”
Raymond A. Palmer (1910-1977) was the hustling, sensation-mongering
editor in the 1940’s of *Amazing Stories* science-fiction magazine,
sometimes called the man originally most responsible for popularizing
the notion of UFO’s as alien spacecraft. John A. Keel, indeed, once
described him as “The Man Who Invented Flying Saucers.” In 1945-1948,
Palmer boosted sales (so he boasted) of *Amazing Stories* by publishing
as “fact” the “Shaver Mystery,” a series of fantasies about ancient
civilizations and the sinister doings of the “dero,” subterranean gnomes
responsible for all the evil and misfortune in the world. The “Shaver
Mystery” included the “Mantong Alphabet” as a main component.
Richard S. Shaver (1908-1975), a Pennsylvania welder and ex-mental
patient who heard voices in his welding equipment and enjoyed “racial
memories” of life in the mythical prehistoric civilization of Lemuria,
sent a series of rambling, incoherent letters to *Amazing Stories*,
which Palmer rewrote, expanded, and printed as “fact.” Shaver’s first
letter, in September 1943, described an “ancient alphabet” encoded in
the modern English alphabet that “should not be lost to the world” and
was “definite proof of the Atlantean legend.” Palmer’s managing editor,
Howard Browne, opened it and tossed it into the wastebasket remarking
“The world sure is full of crackpots!” Palmer, however, retrieved it,
and published it in the January 1944 *Amazing Stories* as “An Ancient
Language?” The “Mantong” language of Atlantis and Lemuria still survived
in the letters of the English (“Angelic”!) alphabet according to Shaver,
and was not only the source of all modern languages but also the
universal cosmic language, used by angels and extraterrestrials!
Shaver’s next letters, rewritten by Palmer and published as “I Remember
Lemuria!” (*Amazing Stories*, March 1945) and “Thought Records of
Lemuria” (*Amazing Stories*, June 1945), outlined the full “Shaver
Mystery” *mythos*, describing Shaver’s “racial memories” of his past
lives in Lemuria and his experiences of hearing the voices of the “dero”
150,000 years ago, according to Shaver’s “racial memories,”
Earth was colonized by god-like, long-lived super-human beings
from outer space called “Atlans” or “Titans” who settled on the lost
continents of Atlantis and Lemuria. The Titans created an advanced
technological super-civilization, served by incredibly sophisticated
machinery and by genetically engineered flesh-and-blood “robots” of
various types, some of whom became our own ancestors. About 12,000 years
ago, the Titans discovered that the Sun had begun emitting poisonous
radiations from heavy metals, causing them to age and die prematurely.
At first, the Titans tried to escape the poisonous rays by building and
moving into vast underground cities. Despite this, the “detrimental
energy” which had contaminated the whole planet still poisoned them,
causing early aging and death, and the Titans evacuated Earth, migrating
*en masse* to a planet around a still uncontaminated star. However, they
did not have enough spacecraft to transport all the genetically
engineered “robots,” as well as themselves, to their new planet. So,
many of the “robots” were left behind to fend for themselves. Some of
the “robots” returned to the surface, adjusted to the Sun’s radiation,
gradually forgot about the cavern-cities underneath them, sank into
Stone Age savagery, and became our own ancestors. Many other robots,
however, remained in the cavern-cities. They were shielded from some of
the detrimental rays from the Sun, but also from its beneficial rays as
well. Like the surface-dwellers, they survived and reproduced, but most
of them degenerated into a race of deformed, psychotic dwarfs, the
“detrimental robots” or “dero”–cruel, sadistic, sex-crazed midgets,
sexually perverted versions of the “Morlocks” of H.G. Wells *The Time
Machine*. A few other cavern-dwellers, the “integrative robots” or
“tero,” avoided the mental and physical deterioration of the dero, and
tried to do all they could to defeat the evil designs of the vastly more
The dero began using the marvellous machinery the Titans had
left behind in the cavern-cities, still in perfect working order.
However, they used the machinery for their own evil purposes, to bedevil
both the tero and the surface dwellers and to enhance their own pleasure
in their almost continual sex orgies. The misused Titan machines enabled
the dero to watch scenes anywhere on the Earth’s surface, to read minds,
to teleport instantly from one point to another, to create seemingly
solid 3-dimensional illusions, and to induce hypnotic compulsions such
as the strange “urges to kill” of surface folk who heard voices. With
the aid of the Titan machines, by means of rays and telepathy, the dero
were responsible for most of the world’s catastrophes great and
small–wars, fires, airline crashes, shipwrecks, traffic accidents,
nervous breakdowns–they even tripped people walking down the stairs.
The dero ordered the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, inspired Hitler,
designed the Nazi death camps, sliced the blood vessels in FDR’s brain
killing him just as World War II was ending, and even stole copy from
Ray Palmer’s desk to stop him from printing any more exposes of their
nefarious= activities! The dero also indulged (like sex-crazed versions
of H.G. Wells’ “Morlocks”) in cannibalism and sado-masochist sex-torture
of hapless humans unlucky enough to blunder into their caverns! The
sane, virtuous tero did what precious little they could to foil the evil
activities of the dero who vastly outnumbered them. Shaver himself had
found a group of tero who showed him “thought records” enabling him to
see his past lives in Lemuria.
It is unclear whether Palmer took any of this seriously or just
exploited the “Shaver Mystery” as a gimmick to grab attention, arouse
controversy, and boost sales by attracting the occult fringe. His
calculation seemingly paid off. *Amazing Stories*’ circulation boomed
(so he claimed), rising by some 50,000 from its usual 135,000 to 185,000
in an often-repeated boast by Palmer, though an audit showed no
significant circulation increase. Letters from fans supposedly
rose into the thousands monthly. Readers wrote claiming that they, too,
had heard voices, dreamed strange dreams, seen strange phenomena while
exploring caves, experienced close encounters with the dero, or
remembered past lives in Atlantis and Lemuria. For three years, from
1945 to 1948, *Amazing Stories* was filled with the Shaver Mystery. More
conservative science-fiction fans and *Amazing Stories* readers,
however, were disgusted at Palmer associating intelligent, mature
science-fiction readers (like themselves) in the public mind with
paranoid crackpots plagued by voices and death-rays. Even Palmer’s own
managing editor, Howard Browne, who had thrown Shaver’s first letter in
the wastebasket, called Shaver’s stories “the sickest crap I’d ever run
into.” Outraged readers protested to the publishers of *Amazing
Stories*, the Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, who in late 1948 ordered
Palmer to stop publishing any more Shaver stories. Palmer left the
Ziff-Davis Company and *Amazing Stories* in 1949, and was replaced by
Howard Browne. Accounts differ on whether Palmer was fired, voluntarily
left to focus full-time on his own occult, Shaverian, and UFO-oriented
publishing ventures, or wished to avoid relocating when the Ziff-Davis
Company moved from Chicago to New York.
Even before leaving *Amazing Stories*, Palmer launched a series
of occult magazines, one of which, FATE (founded in 1948 with fellow
Ziff-Davis editor Curtis Fuller), still survives today. In his
magazines, Palmer continued publicizing the “Shaver Mystery,” but also
latched on to the new “Flying Saucers” mystery that first broke upon the
world as a continuing public preoccupation in June 1947. In his *Amazing
Stories* Shaver Mystery rewrites of the Pennsylvania welder’s
acetylene-torch-crackle revelations, he had already referred to Earth
being visited by extraterrestrial spaceships and to the dero taking
above-surface jaunts in Lemurian “giant rockets.” When the “Flying
Saucers” burst on the scene in 1947, he hailed them as a confirmation of
his mythology. From the beginning, FATE pushed the alien-spaceship
theory of UFO’s though largely steering clear of the “Shaver Mystery,”
which Palmer’s co-editor Curtis Fuller (former editor of Ziff-Davis’
*Flying*) considered nonsense. Palmer also contacted Kenneth Arnold, the
Boise Idaho businessman and private pilot who had launched the whole
modern “Flying Saucer” brouhaha with his June 24, 1947 report of 9
flying whatsits over Mount Rainier, converting Arnold into an
enthusiastic spokesman for the flying-saucers-are-spaceships idea.
Arnold himself wrote articles on “flying saucers” and their probable
interplanetary origin for FATE and other Palmer magazines. Palmer sold
FATE to another publisher a couple of years later, and started a
series of other magazines. He began with *Other Worlds*, a
science-fiction magazine that became more UFO-oriented and changed its
name a few times, ultimately becoming *Flying Saucers*. Other Palmer
magazines published in the 1950’s and 1960’s included *Imagination*,
*Mystic*, and *Search*, most of which promoted the Shaver Mystery. From
1961 to 1964, he published *The Hidden World*, which ran to 16
book-length issues devoted entirely to the Shaver Mystery. The UFO’s,
whatever they may really be, are of course still with us today. Raymond
Palmer, however, has been largely forgotten except by science-fiction
historians, professional UFO researchers, and scholars of the weird
by-ways of American popular culture.
Richard S. Shaver’s very first communication to *Amazing
Stories* and Ray Palmer was a description of “Mantong,” the original and
universal language employed throughout the entire cosmos ad also used by
the angels. The Mantong Alphabet, the basis for the English alphabet
which is thus literally “the alphabet of the angels,” went as follows:
THE MANTONG ALPHABET
A–Animal. (Used AN for short.)
B–Be. To exist. (Often used as a “command”).
C–Con. To see. (C-on; to understand).
D–De. Detrimental, disintegrant energy. (The second important
symbol in the alphabet).
E–Energy. (An all-pervading concept including the idea of
> F–Fecund. (Used “fe,” as in fe-male–fecund man).
G–Generate. (Used “gen”).
H–Human. (A very metaphysical concept here, not fully
understood, but used in the sense “H-you-man”: a human is an H-Man).
I–Self. Ego. (Same as our English I).
J–Generate. (A duplication of G, but with a delicate difference in
shade of meaning. Actually Ja, in contrast to Ge, is a very important
distinction. G is the generating energy, while J is animal generation
K–Kinetic. (The force of motion).
N–Seed. Spore. (Child, as “ninny”).
O–Orifice. (A source concept).
Q–Quest. (As “quest-ion”).
R–Horror. Danger. (Used AR, symbol of a dangerous
quantity of disintegrant force in the object.)
S–Sun. Sun. (Used “sis”; an important symbol, always referring to a
“sun,” whose energy is given off through atomic disintegration).
T–Integration, Growth (Used TE; the most important symbol of the
alphabet; the true origin of the cross symbol. It signifies the
integrative force of growth; as all matter is growing–the intake of
gravity is the cause. The force is T. TIC means the science of growth.
V–Vital. (Used as VI; the stuff Mesmer called “animal
X–Conflict. (Force lines crossing each other).
Z–Zero. Nothing. Neutralization. (A quantity of
energy of T neutralized by an equal quantity of D. Futility.)
Shaver used the Mantong Alphabet for grotesquely ingenious if
often rather puerile etymologies of common English words reminiscent of
the Latin etymologies of Isidore of Seville, as well as for his own
half-fundamentalist half-“Ancient Astronauts” interpretations of the
Book of Genesis. Mantong was in effect a low-brow echo of Benjamin Lee
Whorf’s speculations about “oligosynthesis,” and of the 17th century
projects for creating a perfectly logical symbolic language or
*characteristica universalis* by George Dalgarno, John Wilkins, and
Gottfried von Leibniz.
When Adam named the animals in the Garden of Eden, he gave them English
names that make perfect sense in Mantong. Thus, when he saw an ape, he
recognized it as a powerful animal whose power was expressed in energy
or motion, *Ape*: the initial *A* (originally pronounced as in English
“car, father”) indicated that the subject was an animal, the *p*
represented power, and the final *e* (which was distinctly sounded in
Mantong), representing *energy*, indicated that it expressed its power
through energy or motion. When Adam was “banned” from the Garden of
Eden, this meant that he was condemned or commanded to be an
animal: BAN=B “be, command” + A, AN “animal”=”Be an animal”!
T or TE, “integration, growth,” is the Mantong symbol for everything
good and positive, and is the true origin of the cross symbol, while D
or DE, “detrimental, disintegrate,” is the symbol for everything bad,
negative, or destructive–as in “dero”! Shaver had a lot of fun listing
all the common English words beginning with *d* that have a negative,
sinister, or unpleasant meaning:*die, dead, devil, demon, dark, dismal,
detrimental, disintegrate, destroy, destruction, disease, danger, doom,*
etc.! Shaver admitted that the word “God” might seem embarrassingly
negative in Mantong: literally GOD, Generate-Orifice-Detrimental,
“Generator and Source of Bad,” surely not what we think of God as being!
However, Shaver explained that this was one word where modern English
had sadly strayed far from its pristine Mantong origin. German happened
to preserve the correct Mantong form far better in *Gott*, which as
Mantong GOTT translates into “Generate-Orifice-Double Integrative,”
i.e., the doubly or extraordinarily positive source of all good! Mantong
even explained the names of mediocre night-clubs and shows: e.g.,
*Trocadero* analyzes as TERO-C-a-DERO, “tero see a dero,” “good one sees
a bad one”!