“There were giants [nephilim] in the earth in those days; and also, after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” (Gen. 6:4)

“All those skeletons found in the Departments of the Gard, in Austria, Liege, etc., etc… have all belonged to men of very high stature”… – Frederic de Rougemont, (Histoire de la Terre, p. 154).

Legends and myths about giants can be found in all cultures throughout human history. From the Titans and Cyclops of Greek mythology to the Jotnar of the Norse and the Kapres of Philippine folklore, references to these larger-than-life beings are scattered throughout the folktales, scriptures, and traditional stories across the world.

Theosophical evolution, as revealed to the world by Madame H. P. Blavatsky through her seminal two-volume publication, The Secret Doctrine in 1888, outlines the cycles of cosmic evolution, or Rounds and Root Races, in which every lifeform, from the minutest atom to the grandest nebula, undergoes a process of physical, mental, and spiritual development and growth. In line with the Hermetic principle: As Above, So Below, As Within, So Without, Theosophy postulates that the evolution of the universe is intrinsically linked to the evolution of the individual, and vice versa.

In certain writings, as found in the collected Mahatma Letters, the Master K. H. and the Master M. both stated that The Secret Doctrine, far from being the sole effort of Blavatsky herself, was in fact the “triple production” of their combined efforts. Blavatsky, as opposed to being the sole author of this momentous work, was rather the “Direct Agent” of the Masters who guided her hand towards the timely promulgation of these timeless truths. The Secret Doctrine is described, in one such letter written by the Master K. H., as being the “epitome of occult truths that will make it a source of information and instruction for the earnest student for long years to come.”

The work is published in two lengthy volumes, the first of these being “Cosmogenesis”, which is concerned with the origins, birth, and evolution of the Cosmos, the Solar System, and our planet. This it describes in terms derived from the Hindu conception of cyclical development through the alternating periods of activity, or manvantaras, and periods of passivity, or pralayas. The second volume, titled “Anthropogenesis”, deals more specifically with the origins and evolution of humanity, through the sequence of Root Races and the lost continents of Hyperborea, Lemuria, and Atlantis. It is this latter work that is relevant to our examination of giants in Theosophical literature.

Anthropogenesis deals in particular with the evolutionary development of humankind. According to the system of Root Races put forward in this volume, the third Root Race consisted of ape-like giants that lived on the (now) lost continent of Lemuria some 18,000,000 years ago. Of this continent, located in the Pacific Ocean, HPB writes:

“The third Continent, we propose to call “Lemuria” . . . extended from Madagascar to Ceylon and Sumatra. It included some portions of what is now Africa; but otherwise this gigantic Continent, which stretched from the Indian ocean to Australia, has now wholly disappeared beneath the waters of the Pacific, leaving here and there only some of its highland tops which are now islands.” (SD II, p. 7).

In was during this third Root Race that life took on a more condensed, physical shape and that the development of organs, tissues, and bones, took place. They were described as being egg-headed, with a single eye at the crown of their heads, and as possessing prognathous jaws. Reproductive changes also resulted in the separation of the sexes, there being developed first “beings in which the one sex predominated over the other, and finally distinct men and women.” (SD II, p. 132). HPB emphasizes that while the beings of the Third Root Race may seem rather distinct from the human of today, that they should still be considered as human, as should the essentially non-physical First and Second Root Races. An analogy could be made to the development of the fetus, which while very different from the fully-developed form, would still be considered human in the early stages.

The separation of the sexes marked a fundamental point in the evolution of humanity: the human has become “opposite polar forces, an equilibrized compound of Spirit and Matter, of the positive and the negative, of the male and the female.” (SD II, p. 84). Now, at this crucial point, the he has developed into human form, even if this form be yet “gigantic and ape-like’: he has evolved “the vehicle of desire, or Kâma Rupa,” (SD II, p. 116). It is in this stage of development that the human being evolved such attributes as animal passions, physical organs, and the rudimentary ability to gain knowledge and question one’s own existence. It was thus in the Third Root Race that the Lower Quaternary of the physical principles was complete; the tangible, physical body took on its shape as the Linga Sharira; Prana vivified this matter into life, and Kâma imbued it with the gift of passion, or instinct, whereby it may continue to evolve into higher states.

“After (the separation [of sexes]) . . . the eternal spring became constant change and seasons succeeded. Cold forced men to build shelters and devise clothing. Then man appealed to the superior Fathers (the higher gods or angels) . . . Divine Kings descended and taught men sciences and arts, for man could live no longer in the first land (Adi-Varsha, the Eden of the first Races), which had turned into a white frozen corpse” (SD II, p. 201).

It was also during this Third Root Race that another highly significant event in the evolution of humanity occurred. The Lords of the Flame, the Solar Pitris, the Children of the Fire-Mist, descended to Earth to incarnate in human form, choosing from among the race the most developed and prepared for this sacred purpose.

The succeeding race – the Fourth Root Race – was also gigantic in form. These were the inhabitants of the continent of Atlantis, being particularly enormous and materially dense in stature and appearance. We find this race referenced in Genesis as the “Gibborim”, those mighty giants of old. It was this race that was also referred to as the “Titans” of Greek mythology. As stated by HPB:

“The Titans and Cyclopes of old really belonged to the Fourth (Atlantean) Race, and . . . all the subsequent legends and allegories found in the Hindu Purânas and the Greek Hesiod and Homer, were based on the hazy reminiscences of real Titans—men of a superhuman tremendous physical power, which enabled them to defend themselves, and hold at bay the gigantic monsters of the Mesozoic and early Cenozoic times—and of actual Cyclopes—three-eyed mortals.” (SD II, p. 293)

Throughout the period in which this Root Race thrived, further significant evolutionary developments took place, including the intellect and, along with it, speech. The Atlanteans were psychic, having great mastery over the subtle forces of nature. This was both their greatest strength and their weakness, as they were eventually destroyed by the misuse of those powers.

In tracing the evolutionary development of humankind through various stages, H. P Blavatsky points to evidence of our gargantuan forebears, by referring to reports of fossil bones by such authorities as Tertullian, Philostratus, Pliny, Herodotus, Diodorus Siculus, Homer, Plutarch, etc., some of whom saw the bones themselves. Modern evidence, likewise, confirms the existence of such fossils.

We may take, for instance, the “Giant of Castelnau”; three bone fragments discovered by Georges Vacher de Lapouge in 1890 in the sediment used to cover a Bronze Age burial tumulus, and dating possibly back to the Neolithic. Writing in the journal La Nature, de Lapouge describes the bones in detail:

“I think it unnecessary to note that these bones are undeniably human, despite their enormous size…. The first is the middle part of the shaft of a femur, 14 cm length, almost cylindrical in shape, and the circumference of the bone is 16 cm…. The second piece is the middle and upper part of the shaft of a tibia…. The circumference is 13 cm at the nutrient foramen…. the length of fragment is 26 cm…. The third, very singular, was regarded by good anatomists as the lower part of a humerus…. The volumes of the bones were more than double the normal pieces to which they correspond. Judging by the usual intervals of anatomical points, they also involve lengths almost double…. The subject would have been a likely size of 3m, 50.”

And to further examine some statements of HPB:

“If we turn to the New World, we have traditions of a race of giants at Tarija on the eastern slopes of the Andes and in Ecuador, who combated gods and men. …It would be poor anthropology indeed that would restrict the traditions of giants to Greek and Bible mythologies. Slavonian countries, Russia especially, teem with legends about the Bogaterey (mighty giants) of old; and their folklore, most of which has served for the foundation of national histories, their oldest songs, and their most archaic traditions, speak of the giants of old. Thus, we may safely reject the modern theory that would make of the Titans mere symbols standing for cosmic forces. They were real living men, whether twenty or only twelve feet high. Even the Homeric heroes, who, of course, belonged to a far more recent period in the history of the races, appear to have wielded weapons of a size and weight beyond the strength of the strongest men of modern times.” (SD II, pp. 754-55)

“As for the evidence furnished by ancient writers, we need not stop at that of Tertullian, who assures us that in his day a number of giants were found at Carthage… But we may turn to the scientific journals of 1858, which spoke of a sarcophagus of giants found that year on the site of that same city. As to the ancient pagan writers — we have the evidence of Philostratus, who speaks of a giant skeleton twenty-two cubits long, as well as of another of twelve cubits, seen by himself at Sigeus…. Is it possible that prejudice would carry Science so far as to class all these men as either fools or liars?

Pliny speaks of a giant in whom he thought he recognised Orion, the son of Ephialtes (Nat. Hist., vol. VII, ch. xvi.). Plutarch declares that Sertorius saw the tomb of Antæus, the giant; and Pausanias vouches for the actual existence of the tombs of Asterius and of Geryon, or Hillus, son of Hercules — all giants, Titans and mighty men. Finally, the Abbé Pègues (cited in de Mirville’s Pneumatologie) affirms in his curious work on “The Volcanoes of Greece” that “in the neighbourhood of the volcanoes of the isle of Thera, giants with enormous skulls were found laid out under colossal stones, the erection of which must have necessitated everywhere the use of titanic powers, and which tradition associates in all countries with the ideas about giants, volcanoes and magic.” (SD II, pp. 278-279) The overwhelming evidence pointing to the existence of giants in the ancient past provides proof for much of what was put forward in The Secret Doctrine. It provides an alternative account of human evolution, in which the development of the race takes place over a much longer length of time than previously imagined, and in which evolution takes place not only on the physical level, but further on the mental and spiritual levels. Theosophy reveals that we are still evolving – onwards and upwards – to ever higher states of consciousness and spiritual development. We are on the path to Godhood, one evolutionary step at a time.