Mysteries of Mount Shasta: Home Of The Underground Dwellers and Ancient Gods


History And Early Legends

The Mount Shasta Project—

Repository Of Mystery

By Tim Swarz

Edited by Timothy Green Beckley

Tim Swartz is an Indiana native and Emmy Award-winning television producer/videographer. He is the author of a number of popular books, including The Lost Journals of Nikola Tesla, Secret Black Projects, Evil Agenda of the Secret Government, Time Travel: A How-To Guide, Richard Shaver—Reality of the Inner Earth, and his most recent, Admiral Byrd’s Secret Journey Beyond the Poles.

As a photojournalist, Tim Swartz has traveled extensively and investigated paranormal phenomena and other unusual mysteries from such diverse locations as the Great Pyramid in Egypt to the Great Wall in China. He has worked with television networks such as PBS, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN, ESPN, Thames-TV and the BBC. 

His articles have been published in magazines such as “Mysteries,” “FATE,” “Strange,” “Atlantis Rising,” “UFO Universe,” “Renaissance,” and “Unsolved UFO Reports.” Most recently, Tim has become the Associate Publisher for “Mysteries Magazine” and appears regularly as a special guest on Cosmic Horizons Radio (

In addition, Tim is the writer and editor of the Internet newsletter “Conspiracy Journal,” a free, weekly email newsletter considered essential reading by paranormal researchers worldwide. View his website at: 

*                            *                            *                            *

One cannot help but be impressed when first seeing Mt. Shasta. It is a massive and imposing mountain that dominates the landscape for many miles around it. For many people, the mountain also seems to dominate their very inner being with a siren call that stretches out across invisible astral pathways drawing them in through time and space.

This psychic connection between man and mountain has existed as long as their have been people living in the area around the mountain. The major indigenous peoples of this area were the Shastans, Achumawi, Atsugewi, Wintu, and Modoc. These peoples all lived within the mountain’s influence. The Achumawi and Atsugewi called the mountain “Yet,” the Wintu referred to it as “Behem Puyok,” the Modoc identified Mt. Shasta as “Melaikshi,” and the Shasta people called the mountain Withassa, or Wai-i-ki.

Aerial photo of Shasta on a gloomy day

So much over the years has been written about the mountain that the College of the Siskiyous, located in Weed, California, has undertaken an important venture called The Mount Shasta Project. According to their website, head librarian Dennis Freeman recognized the importance of Mt. Shasta and its significance to academia. He began to gather material related to the mountain as part of the library’s special collections.

The McConnell Foundation of Redding, California, provided the funding necessary to develop and publish an annotated bibliography of source material from the Mount Shasta Collection. The document that was developed through that project by William C. Miesse in 1993 chronicles hundreds of books, articles, manuscripts, and audio-visual materials pertaining to the great mountain. The majority of the works cited in the 289-page bibliography are contained in the College of the Siskiyous’ Mt. Shasta Collection that is housed in the COS Library.

The Mount Shasta Collection is the largest repository of information and documents about Mount Shasta. It consists of thousands of books, articles, manuscripts, photographs, maps, prints, and audiovisual materials about the Mount Shasta volcano and surrounding area that can be accessed by visiting researchers, educators, and students.


The Mount Shasta Collection has brought together an impressive number of Native American folklore concerning the mountain. The mountain has always been seen as a sacred place by Native American groups, and this relationship between mountain and man leads to a rich source of customs, myths, legends and folklore.

Roland Dixon published a tale in The Journal of the American Folk-Lore (Cambridge: Harvard University, 1908, p. 165) that relates the Achomawi and Atsugewi tribes’ myth of the search for fire. The tale goes that after Hawk had been killed, and the flood had subsided, people found that all fires were put out all over the world.  Nothing could be cooked, but for a time people did not trouble about it. 

Then after a few days they began to talk about it, and sent Owl to Mount Shasta to look all over the world and see if he could find any trace of fire.  Owl took a feather blanket and went.  Lizard watched him go, and told the people how he was getting on.  After a while, when Owl did not come back, people thought he was dead.  But Lizard said, “Sh, I can still see him!”  Owl got to the top at last, very tired, and wet with sweat.  Lizard saw him look all about.  He looked west twice, and there saw smoke coming from a sweat-house. After a while Owl came down from the mountain, and, coming back, told people what he had seen.

Next morning all got ready and went off to the west, to where the smoke had been seen.  Every one had a cedar-bark torch.  Dog had some punk hidden in his ear.  Late in the evening they arrived at the house, and asked to be allowed to warm their hands.  Dog held his ear down, and fire caught in the punk.  Then every one thrust their torches into the fire, and ran.

The people in the house were angry, and struck at them as they ran off.  Coyote’s fire gave out first, then another’s and another’s, until finally all were out except that which Dog had in his ears.  The people who owned fire had made it rain, and this put out the people’s torches.  No one knew that Dog had fire. 

They got home and were much troubled, for they thought the fire had all been lost.  Dog was laughing, and said, “I am sweating.”  Coyote got angry at this, and said, “Hit him! Knock him out!”  Then Dog said to Fox, “Look in my ear.”  When he did so, he saw the fire.  He took out the punk, made fire from it, and so people got fire again.

Also from Dixon in the volume 23, number 87 issue of The Journal of American Folk-lore, is the Shasta Tribe’s story of the Coyote and the Flood. Coyote was traveling about.  There was an evil being in the water.  Coyote carried his arrows.  Now, the evil being rose up out of the water, and said, “There is no wood.”  Then the water rose up toward Coyote, it covered him up, Coyote was covered by the water.  Then the water went down, dried off, and Coyote shot the evil being.

Now, Coyote ran away, and the water followed after him.  He ran up on Mount Shasta, ran up to the top of the mountain.  The water was very deep. Coyote made a fire, for there only was any ground left above the water. Grizzly-Bear swam thither, deer swam thither, Black-Bear swam thither, Elk swam thither, and Gray-Squirrel, and Jack-Rabbit, and Ground-Squirrel, and Badger, and Porcupine, and Coon, and Wild-Cat, and Fisher, and Wolf, and Mountain-Lion. Then there was no more water.  It was swampy all about.  People scattered everywhere.

In 1873 Joaquin Miller published his groundbreaking book Life Amongst the Modocs: Unwritten History. Based on his years among the mining towns and Indian camps of northernmost California during the tumultuous 1850s, Miller wrote about a time when he felt he had completely embraced the Native American lifestyle.

Miller said that the Indian’s life to an active mind was monotonous.  “We rode, we fished, we hunted, and hunted, and fished, and rode, and that was nearly all we could do by day.”

Stage coach goes on its merry arounds with Mount Shasta in the background

At night, when no wars or excitement of any kind stirred the village, they would gather in the chief’s or other great bark lodges around the fires, and tell and listen to stories. The Native Americans said that the Great Spirit made Mt. Shasta first of all.  He first pushed down snow and ice from the skies through a hole which he made in the blue heavens by turning a stone round and round, till he made this great mountain, then he stepped out of the clouds on to the mountain top, and descended and planted the trees all around by putting his finger on the ground. 

The sun melted the snow, and the water ran down and nurtured the trees and made the rivers.  After that he made the fish for the rivers out of the small end of his staff.  He made the birds by blowing some leaves which he took up from the ground among the trees.  After that he made the beasts out of the remainder of his stick, but made the grizzly bear out of the big end, and made him master over all the others. 

The Great Spirit made the grizzly so strong that he feared him himself, and would have to go up on the top of the mountain out of sight of the forest to sleep at night, lest the grizzly should assail him in his sleep.  Afterwards, the Great Spirit wishing to remain on Earth, and make the sea and some more land, he converted Mt. Shasta by a great deal of labor into a wigwam, and built a fire in the center of it and made it a pleasant home. 

After that his family came down, and they all have lived in the mountain ever since.  They say that before the white man came they could see the fire ascending from the mountain by night and the smoke by day, every time they chose to look in that direction.

One late and severe spring-time many thousand snows ago, there was a great storm about the summit of Shasta, and that the Great Spirit sent his youngest and fairest daughter, of whom he was very fond, up to the hole in the top, bidding her speak to the storm that came up from the sea, and tell it to be more gentle or it would blow the mountain over.  He bade her do this hastily, and not put her head out, lest the wind would catch her in the hair and blow her away.  He told her she should only thrust out her long red arm and make a sign, and then speak to the storm without.

The child hastened to the top, and did as she was bid, and was about to return, but having never yet seen the ocean, where the wind was born and made his home, when it was white with the storm, she stopped, turned, and put her head out to look that way, when lo, the storm caught in her long red hair, and blew her out and away down and down the mountain side.  Here she could not fix her feet in the hard, smooth ice and snow, and so slid on and on down to the dark belt of firs below the snow rim.

Now, the grizzly bears possessed all the wood and all the land even down to the sea at that time, and were very numerous and very powerful.  They were not exactly beasts then, although they were covered with hair, lived in the caves, and had sharp claws; but they walked on two legs, and talked, and used clubs to fight with, instead of their teeth and claws as they do now.

At this time, there was a family of grizzlies living close up to the snow.  The mother had lately brought forth, and the father was out in quest of food for the young, when, as he returned with his club on his shoulder and a young elk in his left hand, he saw this little child, red like fire, hid under a fir bush, with her long hair trailing in the snow, and shivering with fright and cold.  Not knowing what to make of her, he took her to the old mother, who was very learned in all things, and asked her what this fair and frail thing was that he had found shivering under a fir-bush in the snow.  The old mother Grizzly, who had things pretty much her own way, bade him leave the child with her, but never mention it to any one, and she would share her breast with her, and bring her up with the other children, and maybe some great good would come of it.

The old mother reared her as she promised to do, and the old hairy father went out every day with his club on his shoulder to get food for his family till they were all grown up, and able to do for themselves. “Now,” said the old mother Grizzly to the old father Grizzly, as he stood his club by the door and sat down one day, “our oldest son is quite grown up, and must have a wife.  Now, who shall it be but the little red creature you found in the snow under the black fir-bush.”  So the old grizzly father kissed her, said she was very wise, then took up his club on his shoulder, and went out and killed some meat for the marriage feast.

They married, and were very happy, and many children were born to them.  But, being part of the Great Spirit and part of the grizzly bear, these children did not exactly resemble either of their parents, but partook somewhat of the nature and likeness of both.  Thus was the red man created; for these children were the first Indians.

All the other grizzlies throughout the black forests, even down to the sea, were very proud and very kind, and met together, and, with their united strength, built for the lovely little red princess a wigwam close to that of her father, the Great Spirit.  This is what is now called “Little Mount Shasta.”

After many years, the old mother Grizzly felt that she soon must die; and, fearing that she had done wrong in detaining the child of the Great Spirit, she could not rest till she had seen him and restored him his long-lost treasure, and asked his forgiveness. With this object in view, she gathered together all the grizzlies at the new and magnificent lodge built for the Princess and her children, and then sent her eldest grandson to the summit of Mount Shasta, in a cloud, to speak to the Great Spirit and tell him where he could find his long-lost daughter.

Early settlers love the beauty and majesty of Mount Shasta and settled nearby despite the sometimes harsh weather

When the Great Spirit heard this he was so glad that he ran down the mountainside on the south so fast and strong that the snow was melted off in places, and the tokens of his steps remain to this day.  The grizzlies went out to meet him by thousands; and as he approached they stood apart in two great lines, with their clubs under their arms, and so opened a lane by which he passed in great state to the lodge where his daughter sat with her children.

But when he saw the children, and learned how the grizzlies that he had created had betrayed him into the creation of a new race, he was very wroth, and frowned on the old mother Grizzly till she died on the spot.  At this the grizzlies all set up a dreadful howl; but he took his daughter on his shoulder, and turning to all the grizzlies, bade them hold their tongues, get down on their hands and knees, and so remain till he returned.  They did as they were bid, and he closed the door of the lodge after him, drove all the children out into the world, passed out and up the mountain, and never returned to the timber any more.

So the grizzlies could not rise up any more, or use their clubs, but have ever since had to go on all-fours, much like other beasts, except when they have to fight for their lives, when the Great Spirit permits them to stand up and fight with their fists like men. That is why the Native Americans about Mt. Shasta will never kill or interfere in any way with a grizzly.  Whenever one of their number is killed by one of these kings of the forest, he is burned on the spot, and all who pass that way for years cast a stone on the place till a great pile is thrown up.  Fortunately, however, grizzlies are not plentiful about the mountain.

In proof of the truth of the story that the grizzly once walked and stood erect, and was much like a man, they show that he has scarcely any tail, and that his arms are a great deal shorter than his legs, and that they are more like a man than any other animal.


An interesting section of the Mount Shasta Project discusses the various possibilities on where Mt. Shasta received its unique name.  Those who first visit the Mt. Shasta region often inquire where the name “Shasta” came from. The four most common reasons offered are:

   1. The mountain is named after a very famous local Indian.

   2. It is named after a local Indian tribe.

   3. It comes from the Indian word Tsasdi, meaning “three” and refers to the      triple-peaked mountain.

   4. The Russians who settled at Bodega could see it from the Coast Range. They called it Tchastal or “the white and pure mountain.”


William Miesse, author of Mount Shasta: An Annotated Bibliography, has extensively researched this issue. According to Miesse, Peter Skene Ogden (in his 1826-27 journal) refers to a mountain, a tribe, and a river as “Sastice” “Castice” “Sistise” and “Sasty.”

Based on his description, we know the mountain he was referring to was actually what is now known as Mt. McLoughlin in Southern Oregon. The Sastise River is now called the Rogue (some Indians in the area referred to themselves as “Kqwu’-sta”). It is also believed that the Wilkes Expedition (1838-42) mistakenly transposed Ogden’s Sastise to the mountain that is today called Shasta.

By the time of the Gold Rush (1849) many maps of the area showed the mountain with names such as “Shasty,” “Shaste,” and “Sasty.” Also, between 1842 and 1850 a number of journals and maps listed the mountain as Saste, Sasty, Shaste, Shasty, Shatasla, Sastise, Castice, and Sistise. The modern spelling (Shasta) did not appear until 1850 when the name was first chosen for Shasta County by the California State Legislature.

Local legends state that the mountain was named after a great king who traveled to the area from his land located somewhere across the western ocean. The king was named Shasta, and along with a small group of his people, settled around the mountain because its snow-capped peaks reminded them of their home.

When the Native American tribes began to settle into the area, they found it already occupied by the Shasta people, who were described as being shorter than the Native Americans and having dark hair and brown skin. The Shasta people fought to keep the invaders from their mountain, but the Native Americans were far more numerous and eventually drove the Shasta people away. 

Some say the survivors left by canoe to find their original homeland, but despaired of ever finding it as their legends stated that it had been covered over by the ocean. The old tales of King Shasta and his lost people were kept alive by the Native Americans who from then on called the mountain “Shasta.”


The Mount Shasta Project admits that by far the most popular example of Mt. Shasta lore is the spiritual connection with the alleged survivors of the mythical land of Lemuria. According to William Miesse, “In the mid-19th Century paleontologists coined the term ‘Lemuria’ to describe a hypothetical continent, bridging the Indian Ocean, which would have explained the migration of lemurs from Madagascar to India. Lemuria was a continent which submerged and was no longer to be seen.”

The connection between Mt. Shasta and Lemuria came in 1905 with the publication of Frederick S. Oliver’s book A Dweller on Two Planets.  Michael Zanger writes in his book Mt. Shasta: History, Legend and Lore, that teenager Frederick Spencer Oliver, who was born in Washington D.C. in 1866 and came to Yreka, California, with his parents when he was two years old, was helping mark the boundaries of his family’s mining claim during the summer of 1883. As the young man drove wooden stakes along a survey line, he jotted down the number and location of each stake in a notebook. At one point, as he took up his pencil to enter the information, his hand began to write uncontrollably.

Terrified, he ran two miles home to his parents. His mother fetched more writing paper, and Frederick continued to write until the strange force left his hand and arm. Over the next three years his hand would periodically be seized with the unusual force, and he would slowly write one or more pages. He finished the manuscript in 1895 and A Dweller on Two Planets became one of the first American occult classics and was followed by an equally popular sequel, An Earth Dweller’s Return.

In describing his writing, Oliver claimed that he had been chosen as “amanuensis,” or secretary, to the Lemurian spirit Phylos, and that the book had been dictated to him through “automatic writing.” Oliver claimed that Phylos, who lived several previous incarnations on Atlantis, took him to the mysterious temples and dwelling places of a mystic brotherhood within Mt. Shasta.

A Dweller on Two Planets was undoubtedly ahead of its time as Oliver goes into great detail about antigravity, mass transit, the use of “dark-side” energy (which today would be called “zero point energy”), and devices such as voice-operated typewriters. The cigar-shaped, highly maneuverable Atlantean flying machines, or vailx, have an eerie resemblance to 20th Century UFO reports.

The Mt. Shasta legends of a city inside of the mountain are part of a long tradition of such legends from around the world. Oliver’s book can be viewed as an attempt to bring ancient myths of hidden worlds within the Earth into the modern, technological age, (albeit the modern age of the late 19th century). 

Guy Ballard is believed to have been among the first to speak of Lemurians residing on Mount Shasta

A Dweller on Two Planets is still in print today, and has become the fountainhead of an entire genre of Mt. Shasta literature. Spencer Lewis, Eugene Thomas, Guy Ballard, Nola Van Valer, Earlyne Cheney, Elizabeth Clare Prophet, and a dozen other New Age believers have borrowed extensively from it. Dozens of groups, cults, churches, mystery schools and other spiritual seekers can also trace their roots back to the book.

For anyone interested in Mount Shasta, its fascinating history along with the myths and legends that surround the mysterious mountain, the Mount Shasta Collection offers an almost endless source of information. This is sure to delight anyone who is eager to learn more about the mountain that has become a spiritual Mecca to those whose souls yearn to connect with the mysteries of life, creation, and the universe.

To learn more about the Mount Shasta Collection, visit their website at:

For more information or to purchase this book from simply click on the book’s title: Mysteries of Mount Shasta: Home Of The Underground Dwellers and Ancient Gods

Most recent posts by Timothy Green Beckley

All posts by Timothy Green Beckley