Contactees

Contact in the Desert and an Anti-Contact Conspiracy?

By | Contactees, Ramblings, UFO | 4 Comments

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.

I’m not saying it’s Giorgio, but it’s Giorgio.

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?

George Adamski, George Hunt Williamson, George King, Orfeo Angelucci, Dana Howard

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.

 

How to Hoax a Contact

By | Contactees, Ramblings | 4 Comments

It’s pretty simple.  All you have to do is say that you had a contact experience.

Contact experiences, as scientists and UFOlogists alike will tell you, are problematic because of the lack of evidence behind them.  Though there are some exceptions to this–various people from George Adamski to Howard Menger have offered up photographs and other artifacts–most of this evidence is rejected out of hand, because Contactees are the unwanted stepchildren of UFOlogy.

Adamski offered a number of photographs; in fact, that’s how he became famous, by presenting photos of flying saucers with unprecedented detail and clarity.  Over the years, these photos have been generally dismissed as being the lid of an egg brooder or the top of a Coleman lantern, as a man named Joel Carpenter notes.  But of course, no direct evidence of fabrication or hoaxing was ever found.

The chicken brooder I found on the family farm. I was shocked to see it at first because it did resemble a flying saucer so much.

Howard Menger’s photographs seem almost painterly in comparison.  Which is tricky, considering he was, in fact, a painter by trade.  But again, the only evidence we have of Menger’s hoaxing his evidence is his saying that he did so. (Which he later recanted, saying he was part of a government campaign to test the waters of how the public would handle a UFO Contact).

In both of these cases, these men could have told their tales without changing them at all without providing evidence.  But they chose to back up their claims with photographs and artifacts, which perhaps increased their visibility and gave them more attention, but also made them more controversial figures.  Because it’s one thing to fabricate a story in a public forum, but it’s another thing entirely to fabricate evidence.  Whether Adamski’s claims are true or not, I think his reputation as a polarizing figure is largely derived from this distinction. If a skeptic analyzes the claims of, say, Orfeo Angelucci, they will likely dismiss his stories.  But to dismiss Adamski’s story requires also rejecting the accompanying photographs and the corroborating statements from others.  If that additional evidence is perceived as fake, the effort that went into them becomes somewhat more dastardly, leaving a sort of bad taste in the mouth.

The average modern person definitely finds it difficult to stomach the claims of the Contactees of the 1950s.  Beautiful blond humans from the planet Venus fly in the face of what NASA tells us about the surface of that planet, for example.  So, the tendency is largely toward labeling them as hoaxers or as insane.  And some Contactees, undoubtedly, were mentally unstable or hoaxers, and a few were even convicted of criminal offenses.  But the same could be said for almost any group out there–butterfly collectors, graphologists, census-takers, and IT personnel.  To wipe away entire groups with a simple brush of the hand is, to me, missing the point.

Just looking at the four Georges–Adamksi, Van Tassel, King, and Hunt Williamson–all of these men have been dogged by claims of being con artists, out to make a buck, delusional, and demagogues in training.  Generally speaking, when I’ve met with Contactees and their representatives, I’ve found them to be some of the kindest, most sincere people I’ve ever met, and describing them as outright frauds doesn’t jibe with my experience.  Perhaps I’m naive.  Even if I’ve not always been convinced of the truthfulness of their stories, I have been convinced of their sincerity.  But who really knows?  Without evidence, anything is possible.  It’s also possible that their claims were totally or partially true, a story that started with a germ of fact that became a big fish story.

Regardless, the Contactees are not so easily dismissed.  Strange phenomena seemed to follow Adamski in his wake; people around him saw craft in the sky.  The Integratron, allegedly given as mental blueprints to Van Tassel via mental channeling, is a marvelous building with fascinating construction and peculiar acoustics.  The Aetherius Society, still running, is the spiritual home of many kind and wonderful people.

Some of their stories may have been exaggerated.  Others may have been totally fabricated.  Others may have been legitimate, or perhaps involved interpretation that others would not agree with.  In my experience, too much emphasis is placed on the literal truth or falsehood of these stories.  What is lost is the message and implications behind them, which is a message that can seem quaint, but is becoming ever more relevant; that the world is headed for a major disaster, and it is up to us to do something about it.  The Space Brothers, whether real or imagined, serve as a role model towards which we can strive as a species.  To overcome conflict and the foibles of human evolution; to raise ourselves both spiritually and technologically; to concern ourselves deeply with the welfare of our fellow beings…these are the important things to take away from the Contactees, not whether Adamski’s Venusian scout ship was the top of a Coleman lantern.

It is not the intention of this film to give any solid answers to these questions.  I am not going to comment on whether Adamski or Van Tassel was telling the truth, because I have no way of knowing.  I want merely to present the information in a way that lets people decide for themselves.  Perhaps that’s a cop-out.  But I honestly feel that too often in this world, we’re told what to think and feel, and I don’t want to contribute to that.  So I allow and welcome comments from believers and nonbelievers alike on this blog.

Who Would the Space Brothers Vote For?

By | Contactees, Religion | 3 Comments

Today, I want to talk about exopolitics.  Literally.  Who would the Space Brothers–the beautiful denizens of Venus and beyond–have voted for in the US presidential election?

I suppose the answer to the question of who the Space Brothers would vote for, were they eligible to vote (which they wouldn’t be, unless they chose to become naturalized citizens) really depends on which of the Contactees you were to ask.  And unless Valiant Thor or one of his crew comes forward to endorse a particular person, we have to go on what the Contactees said.

Though the Space Brothers are often depicted monolithically, always in perfect agreement with each other, the stories of them as told by the Contactees tend to lack smaller details of the individuals.  We don’t know if Orthon liked his coffee black while Firkon preferred a little cream and sugar, and that sort of thing.  They are depicted in these stories as angelic–often literally–and as such, they are shown to be kind and enlightened beings with no flaws to speak of.  If we knew who they’d vote for, then you can assume that person would be the only correct choice.

However, depending on who’s telling the story, the details of those Space Brotherian societies differ wildly, and therefore, their presumed voting preferences.  A good place to start to determine this would be to examine the issues that are important to them.

First, the Space Brothers typically advocate fervently for nuclear disarmament, and seek to minimize conflict and strife on this planet, eliminating war and disease.  They want to help us toward a glorious future in which we bond with our planet and take steps toward what today we would call green energy and environmentalism.  All of these things would indicate that the Space Brothers would lean to the Democratic/Green Party/Socialist side of things.

On the other hand, many of the Space Brothers extolled the virtues of a traditional life, and a return to simpler times as the way forward.  This included religion, generally Christianity, as well as dispensing with laws (to be fair, they were only able to do this because they were enlightened as individuals, and therefore needed no laws.)  Both of these things tend to lean more Republican/Libertarian.

But that’s where the waters get more muddy.  While some of the Space Brothers spoke a traditional Christian message, not all of them seemed to agree completely.  Take Valiant Thor, as recounted by Reverend Frank Stranges in “Stranger at the Pentagon.”

“He told me that his purpose in coming was to help mankind return to the Lord.  He spoke in positive terms…always with a smile on his face. He said that man was further away from God than ever before, but there was still a good chance if man looks in the right place…he told me that Jesus Christ would not force men to be saved from their mistakes, even though He had already made a way for mankind to be redeemed through His shed blood.”

Compare that very Christian message to the more Eastern religion-flavored tone of George King:

“A time of change is now upon us. The Age of Aquarius, which will start to dawn in the new millennium, will be an Age of Science, but a science tempered by love. The barriers between different religions will gradually be broken down and there will be a return to oneness which is the very essence of Spiritual expression.”

from Contact with the Gods from Space by George King, D.D., Th.D.

This more inclusive philosophy sounds similar to the philosophy of another famous George, Adamski, who recorded the following meeting with a being called “The Master” in “Inside the Space Ships.”

“And no man lives who has never once dreamed of what you call Utopia, or the nearly perfect world.  There is nothing which man has ever imagined which is not, somewhere, a reality. And, therefore, nothing that is not possible of achievement.  For you too, on Earth, that is possible.  For us on the other planets of our galaxy, it is so now.”

But Adamski opposed organized religion, saying it only caused division amongst humanity.  “The Master” goes on:

“There is nothing wrong with your Earth, nor with its people, except that in their lack of understanding they are young children in the universal life of the One Supreme Being.  You have been told that in our worlds we live the creator’s laws, while as yet on Earth you only talk of them.”

So what are these “creator’s laws”?  According to Adamski, they provide for everyone, they care for the entire planet, they are concerned for the environment, and so on.  In fact, Adamski is reported once to have said that communism was the way of the future.  You can’t go much left-er than that.  To the Aetherius Society, the planet is itself a living being, and so the safety of the environment is of utmost importance to them, another left-leaning concern.  Then again, Woody Derenberger’s Lanulosians seemed to feel that “separate but equal” wasn’t the worst thing in the world.  And to Stranges and many others, it was our straying from traditional values that was causing all the problems in the world.

Whether this variation in opinions comes from the Space Brothers or the Contactees talking to them, I leave you to be the judge.  While it’s fairly certain the Space Brothers would have little tolerance for border walls, they would have also had problems with a willingness to use military force.  And while they perhaps would agree with much of socialist philosophy, they would recoil at the idea of passing laws and regulations forcing people to comply.

Who would the Space Brothers vote for?  Do Angels vote for God?  How would they vote when the idea of government is unnecessary?  This also doesn’t take into account the idea of country–why would beings who see the world from a global scale concern themselves with the petty meanderings of country politics?

So I’m at a loss.  What do you think?

 

Fear the Flying Saucers

By | Contactees, Ramblings, UFO, Video | One Comment

This past weekend, my California friends were peppering my Facebook feed with videos and photographs of a UFO in the sky.  It hit the national news as a comet-like object coursed over the skies of Los Angeles and beyond.  In the absence of any definite information, it was in fact an unidentified flying object.

You can hear the confusion in the video above:  “it’s a star or something” and “a blimp.”  A truck driver is concerned about a “bright light hovering in the area.”   Seeing something like this, without any context or expectation, is a terrifying thing.  I know this, because it happened to me a few years ago in Los Angeles, but back then, the fears were totally different.

It was 2001, not long after September 11.  For several days, the only airplanes in the sky were the fighter jets that occasionally flew over the city, and in the months following, the fear of the next attack was in the back of everyone’s mind.  And then one night, I heard a commotion outside my apartment, and stepped out into the courtyard to see what everyone was talking about. Then I saw it: an iridescent blob hanging in the western sky, slowly changing shape.  The group gathered there nervously threw ideas out there, much like the nervous voices in the video above.  “is it a gas attack?”  “What about a dirty bomb?”  Some of us wondered if it could have been a nuke out at sea.  Like those people in California this past weekend, we had no idea what it was, but we were fairly sure that the only reasonable explanation was that the terrorists had struck again. No one said anything about UFOs.

Then, as now, the military came out and said “Oh, uh, whoops, our bad.  That was just a missile test.  I guess we should have mentioned something.  Sorry guys!”  Sadly, I don’t have a photograph of this, because we were all too stunned to think of taking a photo.  (Which, interestingly, is a phenomenon often reported by UFO and bigfoot witnesses.)  However, I came across this article which has a photo that is somewhat similar (though far less dramatic) to what I saw all those years ago.

Now, while this new missile test looked a bit different, more comet-like and less cloud-like, it also reminded me of the “Norway spiral”, which people went nuts over in 2009.

Unexpected celestial events tend to highlight the sharp divisions between the various factions of believers:  the hopeful will say it is the opening of a new age; the fearful will say it’s an alien invasion; the conspiratorial will say it’s Project Bluebeam.  Some can’t seem to make up their minds and say it’s all of the above; but ultimately, the answer is almost always what would be exciting in any other context: A missile test, bolide, or other celestial phenomenon.

Our fears often dictate what conclusions we’ll jump to, and with time, narratives form.  In the wake of 9/11, strange lights in the sky meant that the terrorists were back, but 14 years later, the immediacy of the Twin Towers collapsing has diminished, and we look outward to the stars for our bogeymen.  A similar effect happened in the late ’40s through the ’60s.  Immediately after the war, strange lights in the sky signaled atomic bombs or secret Soviet weaponry.  But by the 50s and 60s, when the immediacy of the war had died down, the explanations deepened; strange lights became alien spacecraft.  As years went on, the logical progression followed, and narratives appeared around those alien spacecraft: Beings came from those craft to speak to humans on Earth.  The Contactees were born.

Whatever you think of the Contactees, whether you think they made it all up or they had real experiences or somewhere in between, their stories reflected the fears that people felt back in the day.  Or rather, their stories reflected the hopes that people had back in the day.  We as humans were on the brink of destroying ourselves, and the Contactees offered a narrative that there were powers far greater than our own that were here to help.  It’s a reassuring thought, much like the idea of the Norway Spiral being an announcement of the coming of Maitreya.  Even the theories that declare these lights in the sky to be the result of government conspiracies offer us a chance to seize our freedom.

These narratives, true or not, are reflections of our fears as human beings.  The Contactees, like the frightened teens uploading videos of this latest missile test to Youtube, were seeking comfort.

Climate Change and Flying Saucers

By | Contactees, Science | 4 Comments

pacificssha_js2_2015277The Contactees of the ’50s and ’60s talked a lot about the period of transition that the Earth was entering.  The exact nature of the transition varied depending on the Contactee doing the talking. George Adamski expressed concerns that nuclear tests could slow the Earth’s rotation enough that differential centrifugal forces would tear the planet apart.  George King spoke of the impending arrival of the New Age, when the earth would transition into a higher vibrational and more spiritually evolved state.  To complete the trifecta of Georges, George Van Tassel warned of the impending switch of the magnetic poles of the earth.  But Van Tassel also spoke of something that is quite relevant to modern society: climate change.

The reason 64 nations combined and pooled their scientists under what they call the “Geophysical Year” and set out to find out what’s wrong with this planet is because the scientists know that there’s something wrong with it….they also know that the north polar ice cap is receding at approximately a half a mile a year at the edges.  That’s a tremendous amount in weight and thickness….These people [the space brothers] explained that our bomb tests are accelerating this condition.

The Geophysical Year he refers to above was a coordinated effort by scientists from around the world to study the changes that were occuring on the Earth and in the atmosphere.  He took note of increased drought and outsized storms that were plaguing the planet, and laid the blame on nuclear tests, and claimed the government was engaged in a conspiracy to cover it all up. Ironically, the conspiracy theorists have flipped sides, saying that the government today is engaging in a conspiracy to make the public believe that climate change is real.

Conspiracies aside, scientists are overwhelmingly in agreement that emissions from human endeavor are contributing to climate change (and not nuclear tests, which have been banned worldwide since 1963).  To look at what many are claiming are the effects of climate change, here’s a rough list of things I’ve come across in the last few months:  the “blob”, an area of warm water in the Pacific that wreaked havoc with weather patterns all summer; an impending “godzilla El Nino” that promises intense downpours in drought-stricken southern California;  Southern California, itself, in the midst of a record drought, in which water reserves are at 20% or less, and entire cities are running out of water; the municipal water supply of Brookings, Oregon, is struggling with sea water infiltrating their drinking water supply; a similar effect is happening in Florida; populations of jellyfish and certain types of algae are booming due to warming ocean temperatures; sea lions are experiencing mass die-offs because the shallow waters are too warm for the fish they hunt, and the young cannot swim far enough out to sea to get to their food; kelp forests are vanishing because sea urchins thrive in warmer waters, and feed on juvenile kelp; massive icebergs the size of Manhattan are breaking off in Antarctica.

You get the point.  In many ways, climate change fears are the equivalent of mid-century nuclear fears–this idea that we, as humans, will engineer our own destruction on a planetary scale.  As evidence, look at how pop culture has reflected this shift.  In 1951’s The Day the Earth Stood Still, the alien being Klaatu arrives on Earth to stop us from taking our nuclear weapons into space.  In the remake from 2008, Klaatu is here to preserve the innocent species of Earth that are being decimated by human interference.

Klaatus

Either way, we’re screwed.

Van Tassel wasn’t alone in foreseeing the problem of climate change.  Adamski claimed the space brothers told him that the cold places would get warmer, and the warm places would get colder.  The Geophysical Year of 1957-58 marked the first time that precise measurements of the atmosphere suggested a warming trend, but this information was not the subject of casual dinner conversation until the mid-1970s.  Interestingly, George Van Tassel made his comments about the ice caps receding in 1958.  Was he intently following the proceedings of science in the Geophysical Year, or was his information actually coming to him via Omnibeam, as he claimed?  Whatever the source, suffice it to say that Contactees were raising alarm bells decades before almost anyone else.

All of this shows that everything old is new again; which is to say, 60 years after the Contactees first started advocating for a more holistic approach to our global civilization, we are still ignoring the message, which is more urgent than ever.  Will a new generation of Contactees emerge to spread this message again?  Now that nuclear testing is no longer a factor, will the space brothers intercede on our use of fossil fuels?

Only time will tell.

Carl Sagan and Contact

By | Contactees, Filmmaking, Movies, Religion, Reviews, Video | 5 Comments

Over the course of making They Rode the Flying Saucers, one movie has kept coming to mind: Contact.  I mean, duh.  It’s right there in the title.

The original novel on which the movie is based was written by one of the purest scientistic minds ever: Carl Sagan.  A brilliant astronomer, he was fascinated by the idea of alien life and alien civilizations.  He was a staunch advocate for SETI (The Search for ExtraTerrestrial Intelligence), a scientific effort to find alien civilizations elsewhere in the universe, and fought against its cancellation by Congress in the ’80s.  Despite this, he was highly skeptical of the UFO reports, on the basis that they did not have sufficient verifiable evidence to support them.  “Extraordinary claims”, he said, “require extraordinary evidence.”

In 1980, PBS aired Sagan’s series Cosmos.  In one episode, he directly addressed the idea of UFOs, and one gets the sense that he did it just to get it out of the way, because if he didn’t address it, people would ask annoying questions.  In this segment, he used what was at the time considered the case with the greatest verifiable evidence for its truth, the Betty and Barney Hill encounter.

As a scientist, he felt the only way to discuss the validity of this case was to look at the only evidence that could be verified, as opposed to the anecdotal reports and psychological tests.  This amounted to a star map drawn by Betty Hill, which she claimed she saw aboard the alien craft onto which she was taken.  This map included stars that were as yet undiscovered in the 1960s.  Sagan, in the clip above, describes exactly why this evidence is useless for verifying the Hill case–namely, the dots she drew could easily be a random pattern of dots that one could find in many areas of the sky if you looked long enough.  While he disregards many of the other compelling aspects of the Hill case, I give him credit for remaining open to the idea that her story is true:

For all I know, we might be visited by a different extraterrestrial civilization every second Tuesday.  But there is no support for this appealing idea.

But what of the classic Contactees? To many die-hard UFO believers, the Contactees were outcasts; to skeptics, they were absolute lunatics.  To them, Contactee stories were absurd, simplistic, and worst of all, absolutely devoid of supporting evidence.  Even Sagan seemed downright annoyed by them, as you can see by his tongue firmly planted in his cheek when he speaks of them in this clip:

 

 

So it appears that Sagan was open to the idea of aliens, and even to the idea of alien visitation.  In a book co-written with I.S. Shklovskii called Intelligent Life in the Universe, Sagan even addressed the possibility that aliens may have visited us in the ancient past–that’s right, Carl Sagan was an Ancient Astronaut Theorist.  Unlike the likes of Tsoukalos and Von Däniken, however, Sagan pointed out that this was entirely speculative, but not impossible.  But I think it’s notable that he did not automatically dismiss the idea.   Compare that to many of the (to paraphrase Greg Bishop) “evangelical skeptics” today, who have apparently re-defined skepticism to mean “if it can’t be proven true, it’s necessarily false.”

And this is what makes the film Contact so interesting.  I would say “spoiler alert,” but if you haven’t seen this movie by now, you need to get on the ball.  The story was presented in a dryly scientific way…the first hour of the film establishes Jodie Foster’s character Ellie Arroway, a brilliant astronomer fascinated by the idea of alien civilizations.  (Sound familiar?)  It establishes her conflict with her peers, personified in the character of David Drumlin (Tom Skerrit), who thinks she’s throwing away her talents on a hopeless quest like SETI.  But when Ellie actually discovers an alien transmission, Drumlin the skeptic becomes Drumlin the I-Knew-It-All-Along.

The alien transmission is written in mathematics, the only truly universal language, and includes instructions for creating a wormhole-generating device that will allow a single passenger to travel to the alien world and make face-to-face contact.  To not go into too much detail on the plot, suffice it to say that Ellie eventually does this and meets an alien being.  This being scans her mind and takes the form of Ellie’s deceased father, as a way of making it easier for Ellie to understand the being.  After a brief conversation, Ellie returns to Earth, where only a fraction of a second has passed, though eighteen hours has passed for her.

With no evidence other than her word, no one believes her.  But she has had an a-theistic religious experience, and will never be the same–not unlike a typical Contactee experience.  Perhaps Sagan was inspired by them, at least in part.  The Contactees were men and women who offered no evidence but told wild tales.  The beings they met were almost always human in appearance, and could read minds, and were kind and relatable–much like Ellie’s experience in the film.  The only thing missing in Sagan’s tale is a tour of the spaceship and a warning against nuclear weapons.  And yet that message is implicit in the story, from a scene earlier in the film in which Ellie says that the one question she would ask an alien being, if she was given the chance, was how they made it through their technological adolescence without destroying themselves.  (Ironically, she does not ask this question when given the chance.)

I think it’s surprising and yet somehow fitting that a towering figure of scientific rationality like Carl Sagan was willing to admit that not everything is scientifically verifiable.  That even though a story of alien contact may sound unbelievable, it is not necessarily untrue.  While this is a work of fiction, I would say that it has a scientifically sound grounding in reality and to some degree spoke of Carl Sagan’s beliefs.

Perhaps the Contactees were not so simplistic after all.  Perhaps their experiences were projections of a sort, much like in the movie.  Perhaps the beings they met took forms that would be easy for humans to relate to.  And the fact that they had no evidence does not mean that their experiences were necessarily false, no matter what the skeptics say.  Their experiences changed their lives in deep and profound ways, transcending concrete scientific fact to address human spirituality and potential.  In other words, the Contactees stories had an inner reality that science cannot discover or probe, yet is perhaps no less true.

 

The Aetherius Society and Operation Starlight

By | Contactees, Filmmaking, Religion, Video | No Comments
Charging Mt. Baldy with spiritual energy

Charging Mt. Baldy with spiritual energy

Earlier this year, I was fortunate enough to be invited along on a pilgrimage to Mt. Baldy with the Aetherius Society.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with them, the Aetherius Society is a group founded in 1957 by Dr. George King. Among their beliefs is that there exist on the Earth numerous holy mountains charged with spiritual energy, and Dr. King, through Operation Starlight, was able to make the energy of 19 of those mountains accessible through human effort.  (The others operate on a spiritual level that is beyond us).  Mt. Baldy, near Los Angeles, is one such mountain.  From the Aetherius Society’s website:

Spiritual energy is no less real than electricity and operates according to natural laws. It can help to heal, inspire, guide, bless and protect whoever it is directed to.

We can all learn to invoke and transmit this light energy – this love energy – to help ourselves, individuals in need, and most importantly, the world as a whole.

What is spiritual energy, exactly?  It’s too involved of an answer to go into here, but according to the Aetherius Society, it can be directed, like electricity, toward certain specific targets in order to generate healing.

In times of crisis, the Society directs this energy toward the affected areas.  For example, during this particular pilgrimage, the healing energy was directed primarily toward the victims of the recent earthquake in Nepal.

The height of the Contactee era was, not coincidentally, the height of the Cold War, and as such, the entire planet was in something of a constant crisis; nuclear war loomed like the Sword of Damocles, and Dr. King founded the Aetherius Society, in part, to deal with this.  As I mentioned in a previous post, the Aetherius Society believes that there was a fifth planet in the solar system named Maldek.  This planet was destroyed in a nuclear explosion, and is now the asteroid belt.  

They believe that prior to the destruction, Maldek was a highly advanced culture, but “the disease” came–a lust for power.  The advanced beings of Maldek turned their knowledge and power to developing ever more powerful weapons, until they managed to destroy their planet entirely.  But some beings from Maldek traveled to Earth and established a colony there, named Lemuria, or Mu.

This society flourished for centuries, but they fell victim to the same lust for power, and destroyed their society a second time.  The survivors established a new paradise, this one called Atlantis.  But the same fate awaited them.

And now in our modern era, we’ve achieved heights of technical prowess unmatched for millenia, and once again, we have the power to destroy ourselves with nuclear weapons. Fortunately, the space brothers are watching this time, and as such, issued “The Command” to Dr. King, telling him that he was to become the voice of Interplanetary Parliament on Earth.

He founded the Aetherius Society, which in turn serves as a front lines of defense against this “disease” from taking over and destroying humanity once and for all.  For those in the Aetherius Society, it is essential to send this healing energy out into the world, in order to prevent such a thing from happening.

And I, for one, feel comforted knowing they are doing just that.

 

Jack Kirby, comics pioneer and…contactee?

By | Contactees, Mythology, Ramblings, Science Fiction, Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Jack Kirby, for those of you who are not familiar with him, was a pioneering artist and storyteller in comic books.  While Stan Lee gets most of the credit, it’s Jack Kirby who is largely responsible for this:

FantasticFour

Sorry, Jack, I don’t mean it.

Okay, not so much the movie, but he was a guiding force behind the creation of the Fantastic Four, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, the newly cinematic Ant-Man, and even Captain America back in the 1940s, when Marvel Comics was known as Timely.  It was this period of time, after he was drawing Captain America punching Hitler in the face and before he drew The Thing facing down Dr. Doom, that Kirby turned his attentions to more esoteric sci-fi and even philosophical adventure stories.  As observed by Christopher Loring Knowles in this blog post on The Secret Sun, it was during this period that Kirby started exhibiting some remarkably consistent traits in his storytelling that continued for the rest of his career.

In 1959, Kirby “wrote” a story called “The Face on Mars.”

faceonmars

I say “wrote” in quotation marks because Kirby was not credited as a writer, but it was no secret in the industry that he was heavily (and sometimes solely) responsible for the plotting, drawing, and writing of his comics.  What’s interesting about this story is that it involves astronauts landing on Mars and discovering a giant stone face, left behind by an ancient civilization on the red planet.

Mars Face

Sound familiar?

This story was published in 1959, 17 years before the Viking spacecraft took the infamous “Mars Face” photograph.  Ideas of ancient civilizations on Mars made popular by the likes of Richard C. Hoagland and Mike Bara came decades later.  In and of itself, this is an intriguing coincidence.

But the Face in Kirby’s story is only the page 1 grabber.  What’s really interesting happens on later pages, when an astronaut climbing into the caves inside the face discovers an ancient Martian race under attack by another spacefaring species from a mysterious fifth planet between Mars and Jupiter.  The enraged Martians, seeking revenge, then obliterate this planet, creating the asteroid belt.  This whole thing turns out to be a hallucinogenic memory recording that the astronaut experiences as if it were real.

The idea of a destroyed fifth planet is a common idea amongst various proponents of the ancient Martian theories, and has been making the rounds since the 1800s.  Known today as the “disruption theory” or “Exploding Planet Hypothesis”, it’s the idea that the fifth planet was destroyed by Jupiter’s gravity, planetary collisions, or warfare amongst ancient civilizations.  Over the years, this hypothetical planet has been called Phaeton, Tiamat, Astra, Lucifer, and Maldek.

Though this idea makes a certain amount of logical sense, most scientists disagree with this hypothesis, saying that the asteroids are actually remnants of the building blocks of the planets from the early solar system that are still left around in a gravitationally weak spot in the solar system, like cosmic dust bunnies in the corner of the room.

As Knowles points out, Kirby’s idea of an ancient Martian civilization came long before Zechariah Sitchin’s theories of ancient aliens or Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods.   However, it did not come before the Contactees.  It seems to me, though I have no supporting evidence whatsoever, that Kirby was likely either a fan of the works of many of the mid-century Contactees, or he was a Contactee himself.

Though the Contactee movement got going in 1952 with George Adamski, it was at its peak in 1959.  Joining the crowded field of Contactees were George Hunt Williamson, Orfeo Angelucci, George Van Tassel, and Richard Miller.  All of these men told tales of ancient civilizations  on a destroyed planet, the debris of which became the asteroid belt.  Angelucci wrote a book called The Secret of the Saucers, in which he claimed to have taken over the body of a space brother named Neptune, who lived on an etheric plane on an asteroid in the belt that was once part of a larger planet that had been destroyed in war.  Richard Miller claimed to have channeled a being who discussed the fate of Maldek, as did Hunt Williamson.  Van Tassel also mentioned these ancient aliens in his works, and Maldek is of crucial import to George King’s Aetherius Society, who point out that Maldek’s destruction is a warning that we should be wary of our own destructive tendencies.

FaceOnMars_3

In this frame from the story, our main character describes something else that Contactees (and later, Experiencers) have come to call “downloads”, in which large volumes of information are fed directly to their brains.  Was Kirby getting this idea from the Contactees, or was he describing this from personal experience?

It’s easy to dismiss all of this as fiction, because Jack Kirby was a master storyteller, after all.  But it’s the fact that he kept coming back to these ideas again and again that I find intriguing.  (I won’t discuss them here, I’ll send you over to Christopher Knowles to read about them.)  Why couldn’t he let the idea of ancient aliens go?  It seems like he was dealing with something intensely personal.  But what made it so personal?

This idea that Kirby was perhaps in contact with something outside himself is suggested in another post on that same blog, The Secret Sun:

Starting in the late 50s, Kirby began receiving transmissions that seem to transcend the boundaries of time and space. He buried it all in allegory (read: “wacked-out sci fi”), or rather, translated whatever he was picking up.

Indeed, Kirby’s penchant for prophecy was pretty staggering.  Is it possible that he was a Contactee?  What was going on in the mid-50s that was giving people all these similar ideas?  Some might suggest the early days of LSD and various hallucinogens, or the resurgence of the Theosophical Society and its ideas.  But one never knows…maybe the Contactees were really making contact.

Contact in the Desert, again

By | Contactees, UFO | No Comments

It’s hard to believe that I’ve been writing this blog long enough to attend TWO Contact in the Desert conferences, but it’s true.  Granted, this year’s conference was moved up a few months to avoid the searing August heat in the Mojave, but it’s still been nearly a year.  I saw a lot of lectures, met a lot of people, including Travis Walton and Mike Bara of Ancient Aliens.

2015-05-30 13.36.39

The highlight of this year’s conference for me was the excursion out to Giant Rock with Barbara Harris, who runs the Giant Rock Project.  She’s a knowledgeable lady with fascinating tidbits from the area, and about the incredible history of Giant Rock specifically.  But what happened that night at Giant Rock was what made the night for me.

After hiking up Crystal Hill (a large mound made entirely of quartz crystal), we stood under the blaring desert stars looking skyward.  According to Glenn Steckling, director of the Adamski Foundation and co-host of the tour this year, as the terminator (the delineation between night and day) moves around the earth, it causes the magnetic field of the earth to shift in such a way as to be useful to alien craft that sail those fields like ships in the wind.  So, about an hour after sunset, it is not uncommon to see a number of craft moving in a north-south direction.

Indeed, there were a number of points of light moving due north.  My immediate thought was that they were satellites, and it is quite likely that they were.  What is interesting, however, is that there were at least two of them in relatively close formation.  I’ve seen many satellites in the night sky, but never so close to one another.  They moved at the same rate of speed, which suggested to me they were at comparable altitudes.  And they faded into visibility, and then back out within the space of thirty seconds or so.

But then all of a sudden, and with a shout from many of us in the group, there came a brilliant, large, completely silent light blazing out of the west.  It shot over us, at an angle of about 60 degrees, and flew in a wobbly pattern toward the distant mountains, where it stopped, and then faded to invisibility.  I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

But Glenn knew.

To my surprise, he informed us that it was the International Space Station.  After a quick search, I verified that he was in fact correct.  I think this was an important lesson for me and others who seek flying saucers in the night sky.  Perceptions cannot always be trusted.

What I perceived was a moderate sized disc-shaped craft at a relatively low altitude, perhaps 4000 feet.  It wobbled in its path, perhaps because it was following lines of magnetic force.  It stopped in the distance, because it was at that point over a marine base and was observing the military exercises that we could hear taking place.  Or something.

But, my perceptions were completely wrong.  What I actually saw was indeed a spacecraft, but one of human design, flying in a razor-straight orbit several hundred miles straight up.  Since it was up so high, it was still catching sunlight, which reflected brilliantly down to us in the dark desert skies.  As for the wobbling…anyone who’s ever looked at an LED alarm clock in a darkened bedroom is familiar with the effect in which the brain, lacking the detail to “ground” the image of the lighted numbers, gets confused and interprets the saccadic motion of the eyes as motion of the object being observed.  That is effectively what was happening there.  The apparent stop and fade was just the ISS getting so far away that any further motion was imperceptible.

In the moment, many of the people in the group, myself included, were convinced we were seeing something amazing.  And we were, just not in the way we thought.