On the weekend of August 8, 2014, I made an almost literally last-minute decision to head out to Joshua Tree for the “Contact in the Desert” conference. To anyone who has never been to a UFO conference, I recommend heading out to one at least once. They are a hoot.
This conference, held in the Mojave Desert in August, hearkens back to the Giant Rock Interplanetary Spacecraft Conventions held by George Van Tassel from the ’50s to the ’70s.
|Not much has changed in sixty two years|
Joshua Tree is only a dozen miles or so away from Giant Rock, so there is a similar level of oppressive heat and lack of shade. This year, when the power went out and took the air conditioning with it, we really got a sense of what it must have been like in the early days of the GRISC.
But as inhospitable as the climate may be in the desert, the fun of these conferences comes from the people who attend. For one, you get to rub elbows with all the people you’ve seen on TV and heard on the radio a thousand times. The rock star attraction at this year’s CITD was Mr. Giorgio Tsoukalos, of Ancient Aliens and In Search of Aliens fame. Also, memes.
|The hair is Giorgio.|
As you can see in that picture above, seated next to Giorgio was Erich von Däniken, the man who (sort of) started all this ancient aliens stuff up way back in the 1960s. One of the most dangerous thinkers alive, according to Carl Sagan, his book Chariots of the Gods contributed greatly to my current interest in this subject. In fact, in a college communications class, I gave a speech arguing that we need to take a serious look at what von Däniken says and not disregard him out of hand. My speech was disregarded out of hand.
That said, Mr. Sagan’s appraisal of von Däniken’s work isn’t completely off base, either. While I think many of the ancient myths of the world that depict sky beings and flying chariots are compelling, I think that trying to suggest that the giant blocks of Baalbek could only have been moved by levitation technology provided by our ancient alien forebears sells our ancestors short, to say the least.
As a result of the TV series Ancient Aliens, there has been an incredible resurgence in popularity in the subject of ancient contact. In They Rode the Flying Saucers, I’ve been exploring the idea that alien beings contacted regular people in the ’50s and ’60s. But what about ancient times?
In fact, most of the Contactees held with the belief that contact went way, way back. Adamski didn’t claim he was the first person ever contacted by alien beings, but he was definitely the most prominent of the modern contacts, which were catalyzed by the detonation of nuclear weapons and the imminent need for intervention.
The first two-thirds of Flying Saucers Have Landed, the portion written by Lord Desmond Leslie, deals with ancient aliens in great detail. He talks about great vimana battles in ancient India. George Van Tassel lectured frequently about flying saucers and extraterrestrials in the bible.
The story of the spaceships and the people who operate them is not anything new…These people originally colonized this planet. Their ancestors and ours are the same people, way back in history. Back in 1951, they contacted me through what they call the Omnibeam and through an instrument they call an Adaphon. This is an apparatus, a gadget, an electronic gimmick or whatever you want to call it. It’s a piece of equipment. And it works. Now I’m not the first one they’ve contacted with this. They’ve contacted people all through history with it. There’s many accounts in the bible of people who heard voices from heaven.
– George Van Tassel, 1958
Van Tassel claimed that the Space Brothers looked like us because they were us. They were descended from the same beings who put humans on Earth in the first place. Some have pointed out the startling similarity between Joseph Smith’s meeting with the angel Moroni and a modern contact tale:
|Fashion sense, for one|
What Ancient Aliens and shows like it portray is what Contactees would look like to a world that didn’t have the level of development needed to understand it. If Adamski hadn’t been something of an armchair scientist, would he have considered Orthon an angel instead of a Venusian? Just how much of the contact experience comes from the Contactees themselves, and how much is external? Do the beings come down, assess where we’re at culturally, and act either as a god or as an alien according to our state of development?
It’s easy to dismiss stories like Van Tassel’s and Adamski’s as pure fantasy, because they can often seem quaint to our modern sensibilities. But consider that very similar tales go back to Joseph Smith, to Mohammed, to Ezekiel, to Moses, and beyond. Are the Contactees just drawing upon an established narrative foundation, or are they experiencing something real?
And if so, what is it?