Acharya S was a product and reflection of America’s pathological brilliance. Like the Messiah prophesied in Isaiah 53, she was despised and rejected by her peers. And yet as we now review her abundant work, the light of true genius shines through. Acharya was a prophet for our times, an acute analyst of the deep realities behind our shallow popular myths, a voice for the ages speaking eternal truths to a non-comprehending audience.
Her name is the first mystery. Dori on her headstone and to family, Dorothy by baptism and law, DM Murdock and Acharya S by choice and pen as public figure. I had the privilege to spend a week with Acharya, the name I prefer to know her by, at the celebration of the great turning of the Mayan calendar in Yucatan at the summer solstice in 2012. We spent the time talking about stars and myths and philosophy and religion, in a strangely charmed and treasured encounter, walking among the ruins of the Mayan Empire at Chichen-Itza and sitting together on the bus. She sang the Christine McVie song Songbird. I asked her about her name, and she told me she hated the name Dorothy. I never heard her called Dori until seeing this picture of it on her grave, under the image of the sun, and with her tragically close-together dates.
Her cultivating such a secretive mystique was one of the things people taunted her about. Some questioned her use of the Indian guru title Acharya. But now if we look for the great teachers of our time, Acharya is right up there. One thing she told me which I have not seen mentioned elsewhere is that she was a member of the Orange People. That strangely optimistic guru cult allegedly bringing Indian wisdom to the USA in the wake of the hippy movement in Oregon came crashing down, but Acharya’s involvement helped to kindle her interest in Eastern religion and its influence on Christian origins.
Acharya exploded into public view with her first book, written almost entirely without help, The Christ Conspiracy – The Greatest Story Ever Sold
, placing her as the lead advocate of the Christ Myth Theory. Christ Conspiracy
was published by Adventures Unlimited Press. It became AUP's top selling title. Her work had a great popular appeal and reached a much larger audience than just self-publishing.
This startlingly provocative work sought to completely overturn popular misconceptions about the central myths of human history. With such wild and bold ambition, she flamed and shone in the sky like a fiery meteor. The subtitle to her next book Suns of God, “Krishna, Buddha and Christ Unveiled”
, offered more than a nod to the theosophical tradition of Isis Unveiled, with all its dangerous associations with a range of esoteric topics. When she then helped as technical consultant on the first part of the notorious conspiracy movie Zeitgeist, her reputation as an uncompromising controversialist was sealed.
Acharya’s input to Zeitgeist was about the deep cultural connection between the Gospel story of Jesus Christ and the extremely ancient Egyptian Sun God Horus. Getting a handle on this problem of mythical evolution is an immense challenge. In response to the superficial dismissal that she encountered, Acharya wrote her greatest book, Christ in Egypt
. Here she systematically goes through source material to prove the Egyptian roots of Gospel stories, building upon the pioneering research of authors such as the nineteenth century English Egyptologist Gerald Massey.
Like Massey, Acharya has encountered a moronic brick wall of indifference and hostility for this whole research program. But there are a series of astounding coincidences of language and content that connect the myths of Egypt and Israel, indicating that the actual process of production of the Gospels must have been extremely different from the conventional literal story. Acharya and I were able to discuss this material at some length when Christ in Egypt was featured at the booktalk.org discussion forum, for example about how Osiris was resurrected as Lazarus, the connections between the Egyptian Goddess Isis and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and how the Egyptian term for anointing, KRST, evolved into the title of the mythical anointed savior, Christ Jesus.
Acharya’s place within Christian theology will only grow, given the steady confirmation by bold rigorous scholars such as Richard Carrier of her core thesis that Jesus was invented. What is remarkable though, as an indicator of the cultural barriers that Acharya’s work faces, is that in his massive book On The Historicity of Jesus
, which promises to be the irrefutable proof of the invention hypothesis, Carrier does not even mention the entire tradition of cosmic Egyptian mythicism which Acharya represents.
This modern revival of Egyptian esoteric mythology started with the translation of the Hermetic Wisdom in Florence in the fifteenth century, and proceeded through Giordano Bruno, burnt at the stake in 1600 largely for saying that Egypt is the source of true religion, to the great French scholar Dupuis, and on to Massey and the moderns such as Alvin Boyd Kuhn and Tom Harpur. Carrier has a conservative skeptical academic disdain for this whole line of thought, even though it offers the only way to put flesh on the dry bones of his core idea that Jesus started as a celestial deity. Acharya is the leading light of this whole way of thinking, and Carrier and other scholars should engage with this problem of the cultural pathology around Christian origins.
One of the things that prompted me to write this memoriam was that I am now reading Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition
by Frances Yates, an amazing scholarly study which explains the intense tensions that have existed for hundreds of years between science, religion and magic. The challenge in this material, and one that I think Acharya sublimely conquered, is to exercise proper rational caution about magical claims while also rejecting the barren establishment attitude of political opposition to all esoteric thinking.
Acharya’s refusal to be cowed into submission was further reflected in her passionate opposition to Islam, for its failure to engage with the deep wisdom of human religious heritage, and its militant intolerance and barbarity. It is one of the paradoxes of her integrity that Acharya aligned with some deeply conservative currents in politics on this question, while also maintaining an intensely radical scientific rational approach to the ecological problem of human alienation from our mother earth.
Acharya and I corresponded at length in public on her free thought nation discussion forum, mainly about the massive and complex topics of how astronomy is the key to ancient myth. We saw eye to eye as kindred souls regarding the fictional solar identity of Jesus Christ. I always immensely valued her insight and engagement, and miss her dearly.