Purple people seekers

The view from our deck in Weed, Calif., is serene yet surreal. A thick forest of evergreens canopy the hills; there are no houses within view; and Mount Shasta looms in the distance, its snowcapped peak swaddled in a thin stream of clouds. One cloud in particular, hovering near the top, commands our attention. It’s oval and ringed like a tree trunk. And as we sit, basking in the late-afternoon sun, clutching cheap beers, we watch as it splits into three nearly identical clouds that stack into a neat tower of suspended water crystals.

It’s a lenticular cloud, someone says, the kind of atmospheric mass that forms near a mountain, perpendicular to the direction of the wind.

This isn’t just a meteorology lesson—it just may hold the key to the cluster of picturesque mountain hamlets that dot Interstate 5, approximately 235 miles north of Sacramento.

More explanation follows—intricate details about dew points and wind flow—but (and maybe this is just the beer talking) we have decidedly less scientific things on our mind.

“It looks like a UFO,” someone else says. “Or like it’s hiding a UFO.”

Well, that would certainly explain a lot. Mount Shasta, part of the Cascade Range and one of the tallest peaks in California, has long been revered by spirituality seekers who claim its rocky exterior is home to a wealth of positive energy. Others, however, believe the mountain hides the Lemurians: a race of so-called superhumans.

As lore has it, the Lemurians arrived at Mount Shasta after a volcanic eruption destroyed the now-lost continent of Lemuria. Frederick Spencer Oliver’s 1894 book, A Dweller on Two Planets, described Lemurians as spiritually advanced beings who live in a “complex of tunnels” beneath the mountain and who are occasionally seen walking its surface, dressed in white robes.

Over the years, their mythology has shape-shifted: They’re reportedly very small, glow with a purple light and speak impeccable English with a slight British accent. Oh, and they usually make themselves invisible.

So, good luck trying to spot one—much less upload a picture to Instagram.

“They’re selfish little bastards,” a souvenir-shop cashier tells us. “They won’t make themselves seen.”

That doesn’t stop locals from paying homage, however. The area is stocked with related trinkets—purple crystals, T-shirts and books. There’s even a Lemurian lager on tap at a nearby brewery.

Touristy kitsch or something else?

“Some people really believe in them,” the cashier says. In fact, the little sprites are viewed as healing entities that feed off Shasta’s subterranean vibe.

“They say that the mountain’s positive energy fuels the [Lemurian’s] spaceships,” he says.

Ah, yes, back to those cloud-dwelling spaceships. You see, these sprites aren’t just lost-continent refugees who talk like Madonna, circa 2001—they’re also aliens.

It’s easy to be skeptical, the cashier adds. But really, anything is possible.

“I’m open to the possibility. How kick-ass would it be to fall into one of [Mount Shasta’s] holes and meet a Lemurian?” he says. “I’m always looking when I go hiking, but so far, I haven’t seen one. It remains a mystery.”