One feels that anything can happen in the Mojave Desert, making it the perfect setting for the increasingly popular UFO convention Contact in the Desert.
CITD is nestled between key landmarks in Contactee lore: 13 miles south of Giant Rock and the Integratron (the lands of George Van Tassel), and 70 miles northwest of Desert Center, the site of George Adamski’s famous encounter with the Venusian Orthon in 1952. It’s also a who’s who of UFOlogy. This year, I met Giorgio of Ancient Aliens, reconnected with Mike Bara and Kathleen Marden, spoke with Richard Dolan on the subject of Edward Ruppelt vs. the Contactees, and watched a couple of fascinating lectures by the legendary Jacques Vallee.
But other than those Vallee lectures, I didn’t attend many of the talks. I was more interested in meeting and talking with the researchers and with attendees who’ve had experiences. However, I’ve noticed a pattern over the years that bothers me: Whatever happened to these guys?
Contact in the Desert is, as the name suggests, a convention about making contact with ET intelligence. Every year, there are lectures about the Annunaki creating the human race to mine gold; conspiracy theories discussing UFO coverups; the latest evidence of bases on the moon or Mars. Generally, they’re great lectures, but at no point is there a mention of Adamski, King, or the other mid-century Contactees–save one: George Van Tassel. His Giant Rock Spacecraft Convention of the 1950s-1970s provided a template for CITD, and his Integratron is a draw for many of the attendees. But even then, Van Tassel is referred to only in relation to Giant Rock and the Integratron; no recognition is given to the messages he conveyed as a Contactee.
And it doesn’t seem to be an oversight. I’ve heard several complaints from the representatives of the classic Contactees that they’ve been shut out of CITD: their requests for booths or lectures are rejected. While it’s possible this is part of a larger trend, CITD is the only convention I’ve heard such complaints about, and perhaps that is because it is the most similar to the old Giant Rock Conventions. If these allegations are true, one wonders why a contact convention that hearkens back to the original contact convention would shrug off any identification with the very individuals who started the movement.
Rejecting the Contactees is a well-worn tradition in UFOlogy, started by the likes of Edward Ruppelt of Project Bluebook, Donald Keyhoe of NICAP, and Isabel Davis of CSI. Keyhoe was irritated by the lack of evidence from the Contactees, while Davis flat out accused them of being “mentally imbalanced.” But many UFOlogists have a different take: Greg Bishop, host of Radio Misterioso and author of a number of books on the broader subject of UFOs and the paranormal, has made the point that the Contactees were an important movement in UFOlogy because they were mavericks who dared to think outside accepted UFOlogical dogma. Richard Dolan said he was glad I was making this film because it is a subject of historical interest that has been largely ignored.
This year’s convention, as is the case every year, focused primarily on conspiracy theories, modern day contact/abduction encounters, and above all, Ancient Aliens (both the show and the concept). This year, I got to meet this guy:
That’s Erich von Däniken, the man who created the ancient astronaut theory in 1968 with this book Chariots of the Gods?. Except…wait a minute…
In the early 50s, George Van Tassel spoke of the “Adamic Race” of ETs who colonized the Earth and created modern humans. George Hunt Williamson published Other Tongues–Other Flesh, focusing on his discoveries of ancient ET contact in 1957. George King of the Aetherius Society claimed that our great religious figures, such as Jesus, Buddha, and Krishna were ETs sent to Earth to guide us through our spiritual evolution. All of this happened years before von Däniken wrote a syllable on the subject of ancient astronauts. As hundreds of people sat in the amphitheater listening to lectures about astral projection and channeling ETs, I imagine very few were thinking about King encountering the Logos of Mother Earth in his astral form, or his channeling of the Cosmic Master Aetherius. At workshops on various conspiracy theories like government cover-ups, I imagine very few thought about Van Tassel’s concern that we were being kept in the dark about the impending catastrophic flip of Earth’s magnetic field. And while the overall message of the conference was largely love one another, I suspect very few attendees were familiar with the principles of Universal Law espoused by George Adamski. For all the love of the Giorgios, why no love for the Georges?
It certainly doesn’t appear that there is an objection to the original contactees based on content alone. So what’s going on? Is it just general ignorance of the subject matter? How aware are people of the original contacts in the desert by Adamski and Van Tassel? Contacts that allegedly occurred a short drive from this very conference.
So, I asked a number of attendees if they had heard of the Contactees of the ’50s. A few people were savvy, but most had only a vague idea of “that guy in the desert”, or “the people who talked about Venus”. No one had heard of George King, or Hunt Williamson, or Dana Howard, or Orfeo Angelucci, or Dan Fry, or any of the others who laid the groundwork for the very convention they were attending. Whether there is a concerted effort to pretend Adamski et al never happened, I cannot say. But whatever the cause, it seems to justify one of the key reasons I’m making this film: to fill a gap in the popular awareness of UFO history, and to let people make up their own minds about the subject, instead of brushing the Contactees under the rug the way UFOlogy has been doing for decades.