The Smoky God, written by Willis George Emerson and published in 1908, is a retelling of the strange adventures of Olaf Jansen. Allegedly based on a true account and papers shared by Jansen on his death bed, the book recounts, in swift detail, his voyage into Earth’s “inner world” through an opening at the North Pole.
For two years, as the story goes, Olaf Jansen and his father lived among the people of the “within world,” deep beneath the earth’s surface. According to Jansen, these are a great people, at least twelve-feet-tall, who live in a place of gold and sprawling fruit and vegetation.
Everything is enormous — not only are the people giants, but grapes are “as large as oranges” and apples “larger than a man’s head.” And, if you can imagine, there live, toward the south, nine-feet-tall penguins.
Perhaps most interesting is Jansen’s description of the inner world’s strange climate and the book’s eponymous Smoky God. Jansen describes the inner world as warm, where it rains once a day and is filled with “highly charged electrical air.” There’s a density to the atmosphere, and this, Jansen theorizes, is what has led to the immense vegetation there.
The “Smoky God,” as well, refers to the inner world’s glowing, smoky sun, which lies at the very center of the planet. Speaking of which, in the book, Jansen shares his estimation of the overall form of the hollow earth. It’s…
“…about three hundred miles in thickness from the ‘inside’ to the ‘outside.’ Relatively speaking, it is no thicker than an egg-shell, so that there is almost as much surface on the ‘inside’ as on the ‘outside’ of the earth.”
The way it works out in the story, the nature of gravity is such that the people living within the earth are basically standing on the opposite side of the crust as we are, upside-down from our point-of-view. The mass from the hollow crust generates gravity on both sides. It’s a strange concept, but don’t worry — it gets stranger.
An Ancient Civilization
In this “land beyond the north wind,” Jansen describes the civilization as peaceful and good-natured. The inhabitants, not only extremely tall, live to extraordinary ages:
“…both men and women frequently live to be from six to eight hundred years old, and in some instances much older.”
They commute via a kind of antigravity railway:
“…the fly wheels in their rapid revolutions destroying effectually the so-called power of gravitation.”
Finally, they speak in a “Sanskrit language,” and communicate over the airwaves, which Jansen found difficult to describe:
“By some device, which I cannot explain, they hold communion with one another between the most distant parts of the country, on air currents.”
So it would seem they posses either radio or wifi.
Some, after reading The Smoky God, have claimed these people are related to biblical figures, such as Methuselah, who myth states lived to the age of 969. Others suggest they are Atlanteans, who fled to the inner earth after their civilization was destroyed. Or perhaps we’re actually speaking of Agartha, the golden realm of Tibetan Buddhist myth.
Olaf Jansen and his father lived with the giants beneath the earth for two full years before deciding to return home. They tried setting off to the north, where they had entered, but found the cold winds pushing them south. So they traveled toward the South Pole, where after many, many months they returned to the surface.
Unfortunately, they became trapped between icebergs, and later found themselves at the mercy of collapsing ice shelves. Olaf’s father died, while he was left stranded on top of a floating iceberg.
Eventually, he was saved by a passing fishing vessel, though his respite was short-lived. After sharing his story with the ship’s captain, he was locked away to be examined by their on-board physician. When he returned home, he was considered insane and placed in a “madhouse” for about 28 years. An unfortunate end to an otherwise extraordinary tale.
“Beyond question, this new land ‘within’ is the home, the cradle, of the human race…”
I’ve always found Olaf Jansen’s tale amusing, mostly because it’s often used as evidence for the actual existence of the hollow earth. But it is, after all, a story, and a fantastic one at that. I can’t even be sure that Olaf Jansen was an actual person. Although it may be called a “true account,” it is for all intents and purposes fiction.
At the very least, it’s an entertaining — and short — adventure into the mythical realm below our feet.
Image courtesy Alan Light.