Old Wine in New Skins Part 1: Timed Cultural Interventions & Jacques Vallee’s Paraspiritual Control System

Psi phenomena are problematic precisely because they involve events in the real world and thus become candidates for a physical explanation, yet at the same time they are critically bound up with certain states of mind. Thus they cross the dividing line between objectivity and subjectivity which normal mental phenomena do not.

–John Beloff

One can study UFO reports and abduction tales for decades and remain more or less convinced these are physical beings from other worlds who must possess something like Arthur Clarke’s advanced technology that is indistinguishable, to us, from magic.

But what kind of magic? Of the ritual…or of the stage?

As Jacques Vallee and John Keel long ago pointed out,[1] retaining an “ET spaceship” framework as a UFO-report investigator requires one to ignore much relevant information from witnesses that enters high strangeness: instances of telepathic messages, psychokinesis, apparitions, and coincidences that verge on synchronicity.

In other words, the sort of “magic” materialist science denies exists.

If you embark on a comparative historical research course into fairy and djinn stories, poltergeist accounts, ceremonial magic, mediumship, NDEs, OBEs, shamanism, and world mythology, the UFO material tends to either assume a wider context of shared meanings or shrink in its unique significance…You might realize you’ve been fixated on one narrow band in a spectrum of very similarly-structured experiences involving altered modes of consciousness that are as old as humanity itself.

After such a study course, at least for me, the belief in technological ETs succumbed to attrition in the face of this historical evidence. In other words, the hardware proponents lost the argument. I became interested in exploring the raw phenomenal experiences (as far as that’s possible) of otherworldly encounters. What prior to that was a side-interest (the occult/folklore in general) to an interest (ufology) has become my central focus. The two are intertwined in astonishing ways.

Foxsisters

Curious Timings?
In 1848, the Fox family are plagued by a poltergeist in their house in Hydesville, New York. By using raps on the wall or clapping, sisters Margaretta, 15, and Katie, 12, learn to communicate with the “spirit” in a manner that mimics the dot-dash of the telegraph in a primitive way.

After causing a sensation throughout upstate New York, the two children are separated but the poltergeist activity follows both girls. The news spreads, and within four years, hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are attempting seances with the same results. Some persons attending séances claim the rappings occur at their own homes upon their return; sometimes a person even merely reading about them or deciding to attend a séance spontaneously causes the activity to arise in their surroundings.[2]

The Shaker winds

But even before the (in)famous Fox sisters’ experiences, the Shaker communities from New York to Kentucky experience an explosion of interactions with the spirit world. The “Era of Manifestations” that begins in 1837 doesn’t directly involve poltergeist-like rappings, but trance-states (lasting sometimes up to 9 hours) in which Shakers’ founder Mother Ann Lee, “angels,” “ladies in white,” spirits of the dead, and unclassifiable entities visit congregants, mostly young people, in visions. These episodes show all the signs of what would come to be called out-of-body experiences and “astral travel.” Glossolalia, epileptoid fits, spontaneous unconscious preaching, and hallucinated music are exhibited during these attacks; during many trips, “movements” are learned then mimicked by bystanders then taught as divine motions that would become incorporated into the Shakers’ ritual dances.[3] Often, the entranced claim to visit rooms in which conferences are held with the passed-on Shaker leaders and congregants, who admonish the experiencer to repent further and reform themselves; in one of these accounts, 14-year old Ann Goff witnesses “indescribable” chairs and a huge book upon a table as the Shaker elders, dressed in white robes with crowns, exhort her to pass on a message to the community to curb their worldly behaviors.

Messages from beyond that demand human behavioral change and redemption—which are so prevalent in “ET entity”-inspired communications regarding our treatment of the ecosphere—have always been a part of trance communications.

By 1841, the affected Shakers’ trances include the spirits of Indigenous peoples, “antediluvian giants,” and ineffable apparitions. By the next year so many outsiders are attending the spectacles that the community leaders cease having open meetings.[4]

By 1860 Spiritualism has exploded into a fragmented but huge quasi-religion of many brands that mostly exclude Christianity. Those with genuine talent at mediumship become “psychic superstars” over the next five decades: Andrew Jackson Davis, Stainton Moses, Daniel Dunglas Home, Leonora Piper, Gladys Osborne Leonard, and Eusapia Palladino. While most of the “controls” used by the American mediums are the famous dead like George Washington or Beethoven, others are claimed to be spirit-guides, angels, or even extraterrestrials, who explain the workings of the physical and aetheric universes.

AndrewJackDavis

Two years after the Shaker experiences and four years before the events in Hydesville, Andrew Jackson Davis engages spontaneous trance using Mesmeric techniques. Considered “slow” as a child, by 1845 Davis is successfully diagnosing medical problems, just as several of Franz Mesmer’s subjects were earlier able to do.[5] In a trance vision Davis signs a document offered by “an old Quaker man,” then Galen and Swedenborg appear and teach him. After having a vision of “Galen’s staff” (which we can surmise was a caduceus) he diagnoses people while magnetized. At 19, he dictates The Divine Revelation.[6] This same type of “edificatory” channeling occurred in many dozens of subjects under Mesmeric trance in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and especially Germany, from 1810-1850.[7] Documented, veridical displays of clairvoyance and telepathy were regularly demonstrated by Mesmerized persons as well.[8]

 But Davis’s trance led to more: his dictated speeches produce a huge 1847 book, The Principles of Nature. At one point he speaks of the inhabitants of the planets in our solar system, singling out Saturn as the home of advanced beings.[9] He also apparently prophesies the coming Spiritualist tsunami of 1848 onward:

Davis paved the way from modern American spiritualism in four ways. He accustomed a wide public to the idea that a clairvoyant somnabule might engage not just in medical diagnosis and traveling clairvoyance, but in the transmission of social, religious, and cosmological teachings; he propounded neo-Swedenborgian doctrines about the future state and the spirit spheres and about the features and inhabitants of the planets; he propagated the view that some new and stirring revelation was about to rock mankind; and he implied that this revelation would involve a bursting of the barriers that separate our world from the spiritual one.(emphasis added)[10]

As Alan Gauld notes, the claims were very similar to those of Emanuel Swedenborg (1758). Swedenborg, Davis, John Newbrough (in OASPHE, 1882), and Helene Smith (1897) were the only well-known mediums who spoke at length about physical or spiritual beings from other worlds during the Spiritualist period.

KardecSpirits

In France, education reformer Hippolyte Ravail becomes fascinated with mediumship. He establishes general rules for distinguishing true clairvoyance from impostures, draws up a list of literally a thousand questions, puts them to his best mediums, and publishes a book of the answers in 1857 under the pseudonym Allan Kardec, founding the religion that will eventually be called Spiritism.

In 1905, author Sara Weiss publishes the “scientific romance” (as science fiction was then known) Journeys to the Planet Mars, or, Our mission to Ento (Mars): being a record of visits made to Ento (Mars) by Sara Weiss, Psychic, under the guidance of a spirit band, for the purpose of conveying to the Entoans a knowledge of the continuity of life. Despite its genre association with science fiction, Weiss is a medium and claims the book is one of genuine contact. It is a channeled work, complete with phonetic dictionary of Entoan.

By 1890, with the onslaught of ET-inspired messages that would come 60 years hence, much more should have been said about visitors from other planets by the many mediums or channelers of the Spiritualist period–one would think!

Arnold

Then…
Exactly 99 years after the Hydesville events, 1947: UFOs begin to show up in our skies (and backyards and seas). Investigator Meade Layne claims in 1952 that these are interdimensional ships and their “aetherial pilots” can be contacted through trance mediums.[11] From 1948 onwards, dozens of individuals like George Adamski and George van Tassel claim friendship with “Space Brothers,” whose advice to humanity differs little from Kardec’s spirit-channeled philosophies of 1857-1868…Shorn of the preposterous Theosophical history lessons Guy and Edna Ballard provide, virtually the same advice is present in their I AM cult, which begins in 1930 when Guy encounters “Venusians” in the presence of the “immortal ascended master” Count St. Germain on Mount Shasta, California.

A Paraspiritual Control System?

Culturally, the Spiritualist phenomenon of 1848 may be considered the right cure at the right time. It was the first modern split-off from all religions towards a direct-experience approach to the divine. The spirits of the other side would teach humanity, even if the truths they offered were old wine in new skins.

When Spiritualism broke upon the world, Darwin had yet a decade to publish his evolutionary theory, but the impact of mechanistic science was everywhere felt in America, the UK, and Europe. Machines were inspiring wonder and contempt alike. Helped by the new mass media, beliefs in a clockwork universe needing no creator deity were gaining adherents in the academies and inundating popular consciousness, undermining the religious faith of millions. The geological work of James Hutton and Charles Lyell suggested the earth was much older than the 6,000 years the Bible taught, further eroding Judeo-Christian faith. Electricity became a dominating metaphor for life, for vigor, for magic like mesmerism—and we would harness it for health and longevity.

Then, just at the long tipping point in mass consciousness towards despair over a de-enchanted universe, along came inspiring messages from one’s departed relatives in seances, psychokinetic magic in table tilting and ectoplasm, prophesies and promises. A great emotional need for certainty and meaning in the continuity of spiritual life was filled by the Fox sisters’ fame and the widespread folk adoption of seances.

So, what parallel happened socially and culturally in the decade just before the UFO craze began? Well, as many have pointed out, it might have had something to do with the terror and despair over 20 million deaths in a World War whose final punctuation marks were the bombing of two cities with a superweapon that could turn human beings into dissipated energy in a split-second. By 1947, the US Navy had tested the survivors of those two cities and discovered the lingering damage that the Bomb infected in those exposed to it, and by 1950 the US was engaged in a game of mine’s-bigger-than-yours with the Soviets over these evil weapons.

A part of humanity definitely wanted new saviors—preferably of a non-human, more evolved kind.

This was just what was needed in the popular imagination, especially the fact that the Space Brothers and many of the reported individually-encountered ufonauts preached against nuclear weapons…

But curiously, by the mid-1990s, UFOs were no longer putting on dramatic close encounters of the first, second, and third kind “performances” as they had since 1947. No more reported up-close (-500 feet) sightings of structured craft, no more buzzing cars and stopped engines, no more observed sky-to-ground landings and weird pilots zapping and burning witnesses with beams of light, etc.

Night-time bedroom abductions largely seemed to become the method of intervention.

It seems that enough of the populace had come to believe in extraterrestrials visiting the Earth that since 1995 a hundredth-monkey effect had been taking place; the ETs no longer manifested geologist-biologist-like behavior, that is, space-suited beings taking soil samples and zapping witnesses with those damned “flashlights.” Such trappings were of the Space Age 1960s-70s, in line with expectations of ET space explorers…Most interesting is that once the international treaties banning the testing of nuclear weapons were instituted (by the 1990s), the aliens’ message had dropped the explicit nuke warning and they began preaching about the environmental degradation of the earth.

Again, it is a message that meets a popular need and tracks with cultural change.

There was a parallel to this change of manifestation (or even “decline effect”) within the Spiritualist movement: By the 1910-1920s, Spiritualism as a world religious movement had run its course (except in Brazil, where the Kardec Spiritist church is still popular). By the 1930s, reports of the most spectacular physical effects that can occur during séances had declined. It was as if the contacted spirits were no longer compelled to tilt tables and raise ectoplasmic spooks as they did in the 19th century; it was as if a certain number of people believing in them had reached a critical mass—so these supernatural displays were no longer necessary.[12]

Many Mesmerized persons from 1780-1850 produced astonishing, well-documented examples of “traveling clairvoyance” (remote viewing), telepathy, distant healing, and diagnosis. The same decline effect can be said for the population frequency of extraordinary individuals such as Friedrike Hauffe, brothers Adolphe and Alexi Didier, and many of the reported “somnambules” associated with Mesmerism and “phreno-mesmerism.” That is to say, the number of mesmerized individuals prone to demonstrating spectacular feats of psi declined as Spiritualism ascended, then new spirit-virtuosos appeared within a few decades using self-entrancement methods without the Mesmeric trappings.

As Spiritualism became a worldwide craze, the core ideas of Mesmerism passed from the scene by 1850, but hypnotic states continued to be explored by laypersons and the early psychologists. For the next five decades, psi feats seemed to limit themselves to individuals “in the Spirit,” those suffering extreme conversion disorders, “hysteria,” dissociation, or those under hypnotic trance, as evidenced by the research of physicians Jean-Martin Charcot, Charles Richet, psychologist William James, and philologist Frederic Myers. As noted above, the spirit-mediums of the late 19th century needed no “operator” to entrance them; they could spontaneously entrance themselves, perhaps through self-suggestion, to speak via the denizens of the Other Side. The most famous extemporaneous acts of remote viewing and telepathy in which the offered information could be verified were thoroughly checked and verified by Society for Psychical Research (SPR) members such as Richard Hodgson and Frank Podmore, both who started out as hardcore skeptics yet eventually became convinced of the human personality’s survival after death and the existence of telepathy, respectively.[13]

From 1884 to the 1920s, the SPR and its American counterpart preserved, annotated, and analyzed much anecdotal and experimental evidence for apparitions, telepathy, bilocation, and psychokinesis. By the 1920s, they had published many volumes of this evidence on mediums and psi phenomena.[14] By the time the Spiritualist craze had apparently met its need and served its purpose—providing just enough evidence of a world beyond the material—Upton Sinclair published a book on telepathy in 1930, Mental Radio. The title says it all: Technology has increasingly become the lens through which we analogize psi phenomenon and prescribes the preferred method of verifying its existence: a machine…In other words, if it doesn’t show up on the scientists’ screen, or needle, or graph, it doesn’t exist.

And thus what we think of as reality constricts a little more.

It was also in 1930 that psi effects first came under strict scientific scrutiny in the laboratory experiments of J.B. and Louisa Rhine, eventually followed in the next decades by Charles Honorton, Hans Bender, Helmut Schmidt, Charles Tart, Robert Jahn, Brenda Dunne, Russell Targ, and Hal Puthoff, who indisputably proved the existence of psi. Through tight experiments that probed dice-throwing influence (psychokinesis/PK), random number generator control (PK), autoganzfeld (telepathy), and remote viewing (“traveling clairvoyance”), they demonstrated cumulative average statistical results against chance for these phenomena by factors of hundreds of billions to one—to any reasonable person willing to examine their experiments.[15]

Case studies of extraordinarily talented mediums like D.D. Home or Leonora Piper became very rare. Where they did pop up in the 1920s onward (like “PK-boy” Rudi Schneider or “poltergeist girl” Eleonora Zugun or remote viewer extraordinaire Stefan Ossowiecki), the ratio of skeptical greyfaces ready to declare “bullshit!”  prima facie to the open-minded investigator was probably a hundred to one, so you tabulate the odds of “standard science” studying anything further in those fights.

But by 1950, say, mediums who communicated with the dead had mostly gone shut up to the cultural attic.[16] Why? Had the spirits on the other side abandoned this world? Mediums still practiced but it took the new, very “physical” flying saucer to re-fit the metaphysical messages of the seance room, and since these were ostensibly independently existing beings, anyone could potentially see and interact with a UFO. At least this is how the main narrative at first seemed.

Seance

Ships are meant to float and move upon the waters; they are animated by the living force that animates all things here, and if we wish to move them over the water we have but to focus our thoughts in that direction…Our host handles his craft skillfully, and increasing and diminishing its speed he could create, by the different degree of movement of the water, the most striking alternations of color and a musical sound, the brilliant scintillations of the sea showing how alive it was. It responded to the boat’s every movement as though they were in complete unison—as indeed they were.

-medium Anthony Borgia, Life in the World Unseen, from 1914.[17]

Change “ship” to “craft” and “water” to “atmosphere” or “space” in this declaration and it could read as part of a UFO contactee’s narrative, or even from an alien abduction account.

So what is this all about? Spirits and aliens are the same?

Not exactly, but close. The same, but different.

Jacques Vallee’s conditioning-stimulus “scheduled reinforcement” process hypothesis provides a framework for understanding the changing face of the Otherworldly:[18] we get accustomed to one mask that appears to undermine our general orientation to reality; a numerical tipping point of humans come to believe in the phenomenon; then it changes its form, but ever reminds us of its presence—and symbolizes a further mystery we shall perhaps never explain but are goaded into coming to terms with.

Vallee points out that the UFO experiences (as much as we can be said to know them) cannot be separated from the media filters through which they pass, much like the signal-noise model of information he studied in his career as a computer scientist. Distortion of the actual phenomenon is inevitable for the human mind; these deformations are culturally shaped, and in turn feed back into society and help shape further instances of the phenomenon, whether it is conceived as entirely “physical” or “psychological” in origin. The distortion is always present, and the one definite factor certain to be in play.

The phenomenon itself is not directly observable, but its effects certainly are—specifically on cultural concepts of the “Other/Alien/ET,” by either creating “new” religious beliefs or altering existing ones. Both the phenomenon itself and the resultant forms created by the media feedback fulfil societal needs (and can also thus be manipulated by cult leaders or governmental agents).[19]

Vallee has many times pointed out the self-negating nature of UFO contactee’s claims, the always-ambiguous authenticity of landing traces, or the obvious fact that there has been a vast zoo of differing ET appearances and behaviors that are many times in conflict with one another. Parasychologist John Beloff addressed this very problem of intractability (and perhaps absurdity, as Vallee so often puts it) when analyzing the history of parapsychological research:

One truth about psi phenomena which every parapsychologist learns the hard way is that they are not just elusive, in the sense of being difficult to pin down, they are, or at any rate they seem to be, actively evasive. One well-known contemporary experimentalist (William Braude) has spoken of the “self-obscuring” aspect of psi…By the 1940s mediumistic séances were “old hat” and the new respectable and sanitized parapsychology that J.B. Rhine had introduce at Duke University was all set to take the academic world by storm. But Rhine’s new science soon ran up against the same obstacle that had beset traditional psychical research—the evasiveness of the phenomena. The “new era” which Pawlovsky thought so imminent is still pending. Time and again since then it has looked as if parapsychology was poised to sweep away all the familiar doubts and objections, overcome all prejudice and opposition and take its rightful place in the spectrum of human knowledge but so far this aspiration remains still-born… What is it that makes psi so evasive? One possible answer lies in the fact that, more perhaps than any other psychological phenomenon, psi appears to be extremely sensitive to situational factors. It is more than just a question of the subject being in the right frame of mind. The whole cultural milieu in which the subject operates might influence decisively what is or is not possible for the subject to achieve.[20](emphasis added)

Beloff’s is the tack Vallee has often taken with regard to UFO interactions and their aftermath: the matrix of cultural information (scientific, religious, social, material) plays a determining and invisible part in what is regarded as an anomalous message that transgresses the norms of that matrix. Incorporating the raw message, which to the contactee is entirely subjective or even “spiritual,” into the existing matrix is impossible without diluting/translating it—but this drawback is only possible through the current epistemology (and something we will address in the latter part of this essay). Beloff continues with a metaphor that parallels Vallee’s idea of the control system operating as a thermostat that is “seeking equilibrium” with itself by altering human behavior and conceptions of reality:

Let us, then, think of nature as one vast immune system. Paranormal phenomena, on this metaphor, correspond to infections comparable to the intrusion of viruses or bacilli into a healthy body. A new paranormal phenomenon for which there was no precedent, say table levitation or metal bending, would correspond to a powerful infection of this kind. The immune system of nature would go in to action with the result that such phenomena would thereafter be eliminated. But nature would still be helpless in the face of a new infection, and so a constant search for novelty would become the sine qua non of successful attempts to demonstrate whatever lies outside the normal course of nature or violates the laws of physics. Pursuing this metaphor, we may say that another method that would allow us to get away with the paranormal would be to introduce it in very dilute doses. In that case, the immune system of nature need never be activated just as in our own immune system very minor infections, as occurred with the vaccine, need not elicit any symptoms. This, indeed, seems to be the logic of much in current experimental parapsychology, such as attempts to bias the output of a random event generator. The drawback of that strategy, however, is the difficulty of a rousing any interest in such marginal results among those who are not professional parapsychologists.[21] (emphasis added)

The same of course applies to the subject of the ufologist: how can one gain the interest of “real scientists” to study what amounts to an entirely unpredictable apparitional event?

Tulpa

The Hermetic Take on Guides from the Other Side

As Havan Blomqvist and others have noted,[22] Theosophists always claimed to have knowledge of—or even direct contact with—the Great Mahatmas of the Himalayas and other diversely named yet similar “ascended brotherhoods” (the Yucatan, the Great White Lodge, the Ellora, etc.) that are said to intervene in human affairs at times to guide our evolution. Hermetic scholar Jocelyn Godwin discusses the “hidden hand” of these intelligences at work in the phenomena of Mesmerism, Spiritualism, and Theosophy, who also, by extension, continue to influence our culture through the UFO Space Brother.[23] This myth posits that these beings—or spirits—are said to take whatever form is needed and communicate cosmic truths via both traditional mediums and anomalous experiences (such as UFOs, synchronicities, angelic visitations). One can attempt contact with them through conventional methods such as meditation or entrancement, but as Vallee might argue the mode of contact for the technological West is now one of disruption of our materialist worldview via what appear to be technological marvels that defy physics and almost all known science—UFOs and how they alter our worldviews.

Contact with Other intelligences was once an accepted part of the natural order of social life via shamanistic practices, before various totalistic systems such as cults, religions, science, and social pressures reframed and marginalized those worldviews and techniques. Now contact is mediated through several layers. One cannot call upon aliens (Steven Greer’s claims notwithstanding) in the way séances once called upon the passed-on.

Betty Andreasson-Luca’s depictions of her experiences

By 1995, alien abductions had overwhelmingly become the media focus of the contact experience; abduction-related books outnumbered in both publishing and sale numbers all other aspects of the UFO phenomena.[24] Seeming genetic experiments upon percipients replaced “space exploration hardware” as the dominant narrative of these books.

In many abductions, the person undergoes a bedroom visitation by greys or other beings and is taken through the house walls into a circular room; many times, an ET-like craft is not even seen, but only inferred by means of previous experiences, or the accounts of other experiencers.

The Others’ scientist-like activities tracked with advances in reproductive technology (see essay on alien transhumanism), yet the frequency of this particularly medical manifestation has apparently dwindled in public reports over the past decade.[25] Contact has become entirely a matter of myths that use our technological metaphors of “upgraded DNA” and psychic “downloads” of information—what was once called spiritual evolution and “reading the Akashic record” in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

After studying the history of paranormal events, many investigators have noted that the persons who experience alien abductions unequivocally also experience poltergeist-like elements. In poltergeist events:

–there is usually a single focus person.

–the experiences often follow this individual around from location to location.

–a sense of a conscious, often malicious presence in a room is experienced prior to “main event” (it may produce bangings, flying objects, etc.)

–apparitions may be seen that are generally human-like in form.

–physical marks are left on the body and environment, i.e, presences that pinch, prick, or scratch the individuals. Fingerprints, “claw marks,” and scrape marks are sometimes seen in dust, furniture, clothes, or bed dressings, during the poltergeist attack.

–electrical interference occurs; lights, televisions, or radios will turn themselves on/off, lightbulbs burst, flicker, or strobe.

–levitation of objects (and, rarely, even persons) occurs.

–balls of light, often blue, are seen; blue flashes and “cold breezes” accompany some mediums’ trance states, such as Stella Cranshaw’s, that were accompanied by poltergeist-like physical effects, studied by the SPR in 1923-26.[26]

–hazes, often blue in color, are seen.
–objects may disappear (sometimes from locked or hidden places) and reappear in the open or in incongruous places (teleportation).
–objects, most often stones, seem to materialize or pass through solid objects such as walls. Often they are found to be warm or hot to the touch.

–“teleported” or “apported” objects (such as stones, cups, plates, etc.) are seen to make all sorts of impossible maneuvers mid-flight as they fall, such as zig-zags, parabolas, leaf-like motions, corkscrewing, hovering in mid-air—much in the manner many UFOs are observed to move in the sky.

–buzzing, crackling, or bell-like sounds may be heard; sometimes incomprehensible speech, groans, or screams.

–rarely, and perhaps circumstantially, animals have been found mutilated in surgically precise manners during poltergeist manifestations, suggesting a tentative connection to the link between UAP activity and animal, especially bovine, mutilations.

These poltergeist-specific phenomena parallel only some of the superficial features of abductions and UFO sightings…Nevertheless, these parallels are clear.

There is usually no “story” to a poltergeist infestation (a contrary view by sociologist Eric Ouellet can be found here).[27] Abductions, on the other hand, involve a distinctive narrative that over time can acquire a deep meaning to both experiencer and their auditor(s) alike.

The important point is that both poltergeists and abductions involve escalations of the paranormal activity. In the poltergeist the intensification occurs in a short period of time, months at the most, while for the abductee it occurs over years, decades, or a lifetime. The latter seems to wane with the experiencer’s age.

Following Alan Gauld’s and A.D. Cornell’s criteria of comparison,[28] hauntings may contain some or even all of the poltergeist elements listed above, but they are location-specific, not person-centered.

Seeing apparitions is rather rare in poltergeist episodes, so there are general boundaries between hauntings and poltergeists. Yet alien abductions also unequivocally contain apparitional/haunting-like elements. In both:

–the entities/apparitions appear either suddenly or gradually “materialize” into sensible form from a “haze” or light; often the percipient feels “their” presence before sensibly interacting with the Others.

 — buzzing, crackling, bell-like, or humming/vibrating sounds may be heard at the outset of an abduction (this has occurred in a small minority of apparition appearances); conversely, a total dampening of sound often precedes or accompanies the apparition/alien.

–a sense of unreality precedes and accompanies the apparition; in abductions or UFO entity sightings, this depersonalization or derealization has been noted in many dozens of cases.

–a change in ambient temperature is very often noted.

–paralysis of the percipient is sometimes experienced in apparitional sightings, especially crisis apparitions wherein the “hallucinated” person has just died or is near death; in abductions, the experiencer almost universally finds themselves paralyzed while in bed.

–apparitions appear fully clothed, and sometimes with accompanying accessories (canes, sticks, bags, even horses, etc.); Otherworldly beings are almost always clothed and carry devices (“boxes,” “guns,” “wands,” etc.).

–apparitions, whether of the living or those near death, may appear imbedded within hallucinatory scenes that are veridical, that is, they are later verified as the actual surroundings of the “sender” at the time of the percipient’s experience; similarly, abduction experiencers report holographic or televisual scenes that float as if being emitted from “disembodied screens,” or are immersive, augmented-reality-like programs. (Sometimes these screens’ appearance precedes the abduction, and in some reports incongruous beings or people, like figures of Jesus or a similar protective deity, have been reported to show up in the midst of an abduction).

–a message is often transmitted from the apparition, aurally or telepathically.

–conversations with apparitions can either be aural or telepathic, but mostly the latter.

–many times, UFOs or apparitions are seen by only a few persons present in a group setting of potential percipients; in UFO sightings (and even abductions), sometimes only the abductee(s) in the group see(s) the UFO (and may subsequently undergo an abduction experience). There are many cases of apparitions that appear to one or two people within a group of more potential percipients.

With their massive study Phantasms of the Living (1886), SPR investigators Edmund Gurney andFrederic Myers came to speculate that apparitions (especially of the crisis-type that occur within 24 hours of the “ghost’s” death) were the result of a telepathic transmission from the “crisis agent” to the friend/acquaintance percipient (and even multiple percipients).

Mathematician and physicist G.N.M Tyrrell further developed a hypothesis that involved the conception of an idea-pattern[29] that is projected from the agent that may affect one or more targeted persons in a “drama.”[30]

Tyrrell’s idea of the apparitional drama is based upon studies of hallucination and a crucial distinction he makes between the sense-data that is perceived by the brain and the physical objects that may cause the sense-data; in his scheme, physical objects may or may not produce sense-data, despite their being within one’s sensory field.

Tyrrell’s conception is meant to be a general philosophical basis for the astonishing examples of hallucination of which the human mind is capable, as Oliver Sacks describes in his book on the subject. For Tyrrell, our subjective experiences are simply the sense-data that appear in the mind, regardless of whether they are physically caused by objects in the outer world or not. On his definition, dreams, hypnagogic imagery, daydreams, and hallucinations are all sub-groupings of possible sense-data. These seemingly disparate states may or may not help the successful management of meeting life’s needs; that focused “center” that primarily assists in self-preservation we call the ego is, for Tyrrell (and Myers) at once more akin to a stream with multiple subconscious ideas and affects active within it at all times.

An apparition for Tyrrell is not physical but a construction of sense-data co-created by sender (agent) and the percipient(s). It may behave in every way like a physical object, interact with the environment, even be touched, but is not physically present. Any interaction between the apparition and its environment that may leave a physical trace Tyrrell tentatively puts down to possible psychokinesis on the part of the percipient.

During events in which the apparition appears solid, elements of the percipient’s environment mustbe hallucinated as well—in this case, it is called a “negative hallucination” and plays a crucial part in the perceived “ghost” (this accounts for how an apparition can block out the space/objects behind it to conform to the percipient’s three-dimensional space).

Tyrrell’s idea was further developed by parapsychologist Celia Green into the concept of a metachoric hallucination,[31] in which the percipient’s mind might generate the whole of one’s surroundings—sense-data that “overwrite” the direct perception of the environment, attitudes, and even actions while perceiving the apparition. This peculiar state can make the sense-data amenable to drastic alteration by a force other than the percipient’s conscious ego. According to Green, it is conceivable the percipient is simply still lying down, still in a chair, or even standing, mildly entranced, while unconsciously producing the entire experience. Essentially, it is as if one suddenly enters a waking dream state…

The force that shapes these alterations, which may be conjectured to also be the force behind UFOs, apparitions, images of the passed-on, otherworldly beings, has not yet been specified—for our present stage of science lacks a developed vocabulary of “topological” concepts to bridge and map the mental, physical, and third space in which such events may be said to occur (which has been given countless names over the centuries, from the realm of Forms to Myers’s “metetherial field” to the Imaginal world).

Apparition experiences may seem random, although 90% of the time the apparition’s identity is not unknown to the witness (and the connection to a crisis for the “sender” has been noted). Poltergeist victims may seem random as well, but psychological explanations have been put forward regarding unconscious and overwhelming psychological stress on the victims, especially for pubescent children and teenagers, as the source of the psychokinetic events in as many as half of the solid cases.

In both cases, for the witnesses/victims, neither willpower nor choice is apparently involved. What, if anything, may be conjectured to connect the two manifestations?

There is a class of person that bridge the two manifestations: the physical medium. Discounting the many hundreds of frauds that have been uncovered by investigators, there remain four compelling individuals whose careers attest to the concept of “controllable PK”: Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886), Indridi Indridason (1883-1912), Rudi Schneider (1908-1957), and Nina Kulagina (1926-1990).

Home’s performances were witnessed by thousands of persons, including eminent scientists and heads of state across Europe. He was never caught in fraud and his phenomena never seriously debunked. Indridason unfortunately died at 28 after six years of strenuous and spiritually taxing physical mediumship. His seances were witnessed by a few hundred persons, the core of these being a small investigative society specially set up to study him.[32] Both Home and Indridason produced spectacular light manifestations; poltergeist-like rappings, poundings, flying objects; full and partial bodily materializations of “spirits” who interacted with the present séance sitters; wind gusts in closed rooms, some lasting as long as 20 seconds; physical contact by invisible hands; and, most spectacularly, full bodily levitation (in both cases their bodies rose above six feet into the air before witnesses)…Home and Indridason claimed the “possessing” spirits were wholly responsible for the observed phenomena, using the men’s physical “energies” to produce the psychokinetic displays. Physical and mental exhaustion resulted after these long seances in which they produced a spectrum of the activities.

Schneider was examined and tested by under some of the strictest controls imaginable (total physical restraint in many cases) and still he produced PK effects around him.[33] In several instances, infrared beams were used to detect any attempt at his releasing himself from the restraints and moving objects in the lab. The beams were broken while he was still trussed up and at the same time his control announced the projection of PK energy to move the target object.

At the more extreme ends of pseudoskepticism, debunkers put forth mass hallucination by the witnesses as an explanation, or some kind of “group hypnosis” on the mediums’ part. Such waving away the problem is almost as supernatural an explanation as purported spirit manifestation.

If we grant that people with these talents exist, can exhibit and, to a degree, control psychokinetic manifestations (whether by subconscious energies or “spirits”), what is the likelihood that certain persons exist (and always have existed) who can create, say, lightforms that are actually a type of thought-form? What if these psychic forms can exhibit an independence of their creators?

At the more extreme ends of debunking, mass hallucination by the witnesses was put forth as an explanation, as well as some kind of group hypnosis on the mediums’ part. Such waving away the problem is almost as supernatural an explanation as purported spirit manifestation.

Anne Whitley

Anne Strieber had been helping her husband Whitley read through the thousands of letters he’d received after the publication of his bestseller Communion in 1987. They found that many people were mentioning encountering “aliens” during Near Death Experiences, or images of their passed-on loved ones during abductions. Anne said, “this is about the dead”—giving her husband a founding revelation as to the meaning of his strange experiences.[34] Eventually Strieber remembered seeing a childhood friend who had passed on during his first recalled abduction experience in 1986, and, although he never has considered himself a medium, has had extended interactions with the passed-on and “ghost-like persons”[35] for 40 years.

From then onward he looked at the Visitors (as he has always called them) as some sort of communication conduit to our evolution—again, what has become a common idea in the experiencer and channeling communities.[36]

In Part 2 of this essay, we will examine how technology has now become an dominant metaphor for the transmission of messages and humanity itself.

—————————-

[1] See Vallee’s Passport to Magonia and other works, and Keel’s Operation Trojan Horse.

[2] For even one of these reports to be taken as the truth, we have to conjecture that a very strong form of mental suggestion was at work at the least. Fair enough. But if multiple good witnesses were present at such a display, what are we to make of the physical manifestations?

[3] This “vocabulary of divine movement” is, strangely enough, echoed in the series The OA, in which the protagonists’ magic motions are learned during near-death experiences.

[4] See The Shaker Experience in America by Stephen J. Stein, Yale University Press, 1992, pgs. 165-200.

[5] Gauld, Alan. A History of Hypnotism, Cambridge University Press, 1995, 41-49, 53-57, 62-64, 79, 103, 107, 143-44, 165, 252-53.

[6] See Brown, Slater. The Heyday of Spiritualism, Pocket Books, 1972, pgs. 84-110.

[7] Gauld, pgs. 141-155.

[8]Ibid, pgs. 85-86, 103, 137-38, 146-9, 151-53, 182, 234-39.  

[9] Saturnine spirits or “gods” figure as the focus of many religions, like the Nommo, teachers of the Dogon of Mali. In their case, the Dogon claimed the Nommo are now in “hibernation” in a vehicle or moon around Saturn but originally came from Sirius.

[10] Gauld, 1995, pg. 191.

[11] UFO researchers who believe that physical ET craft are visiting earth are mostly astronomers, engineers, physicists, etc.—those who adhere to the materialist mindset. They predictably scoffed at Layne’s explanation for the ET interlopers. Most of our religious and physicalist-oriented society ridiculed both camps of ET believers. A hierarchy of the damned (as Charles Fort might have put it) came into being regarding the origin of UFOs, and in the 1950s, the lowest in the food chain was the quasi-Theosophist channeler of ET wisdom.

[12] This has a parallel in general psi studies, called the decline effect, which occurs to individuals who may initially score high against chance in tests, then eventually revert back to the average. The decline in spectacular séance phenomena, at least as recorded by parapsychological associations, seems to be a collective manifestation of this same statistical effect, and plays into Vallee’s idea of an intermittent schedule reinforcement.

[13] Excluding today’s popular spirit channels such as John Edwards (who never submit to SPR-like experimental strictures), where are such persons who, were they test subjects, would by all accounts easily challenge the physicalist paradigm? One could make the case that Edgar Cayce, Stefan Ossowiecki, Uri Gellar, Ted Owens, Ingo Swann, Hella Hamid, Joseph McMoneagle, or the talented SRI remote viewers have been our contemporary equivalents, but none except Cayce (and sometimes Gellar) required a trance. Most achieved their psi-conducive states either consciously, that is willfully, or through self-suggested mild trance. In the 1970s-1990s the US military and intelligence agencies secretly entered the psi research field via the Stanford Research Institute/NASA/CIA remote viewing programs and the DIA’s Project Stargate (of which McMoneagle was the central psychic). This originated partly in reaction to similar Soviet programs at the time—a clandestine “psychic arms race,” as SRI coordinator Russell Targ put it. I’d submit these projects are still ongoing, and thus the most talented individuals have been sought and vacuumed up (perhaps even on a worldwide scale) by these secret programs for the intelligence/military agencies’ exclusive use, probably for significant remuneration as “contractors.”

[14] For anyone inclined with an open mind to read through this voluminous case-study research and analysis, it is pretty clear that the strict materialist model of reality must be bullshit.

[15] Carter, Chris. Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics, Inner Traditions, 2012, pgs. 63-65, 70-71, 76-77, 82-104.

[16] Seances were old hat and wouldn’t make good television. Is this transformation to invisibility just an artifact of how radically media changed forms? An “information glut,” although of a slower pace, existed before the internet threw everything at us at once; thousands of magazines competed for attention, mass market paperbacks made home libraries cheaper, and television flooded the living room with visions of what life was supposed to be like. Invisible though were its electromagnetic means, radio and TV mass media were compelled by market forces to focus on the tangibles of the world: war, politics, economics, scandals, social movements, etc.  Combined with the unspoken embargo on promoting religious views, the media offered no outlet to the “alternative altars” of countercultural spirituality that nevertheless existed (and flourished in some places).

[17] Anthony Borgia, Life in the World Unseen, Corgi Books/Transworld Publications, 1970

[18] Vallee, Jacques. Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact, Anomalist Books, 2008, pgs. 271-281; The Invisible College, Anomalist Books, 2014, pgs. 194-206.

[19] See Vallee’s Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults.

[20] Beloff, John. Parapsychology: A Concise History, pgs. 231-32.

[21] Ibid, pg. 233.

[22] https://ufoarchives.blogspot.com/2019/02/the-esoteric-intervention-theory-updated.html

[23] https://ufoarchives.blogspot.com/2016/04/paranormal-phenomena-and-academic.html

[24] The Gods Have Landed, State University of New York Press, 1995, James R. Lewis, ed.; from the essay “Religious Dimensions of the UFO Abductee Experience” by John Witmore, pg. 66.

[25] Although there continue to be self-published abduction memoirs, by the millennium the mainstream publishing industry had moved on. Another reason for this may be that since roughly the year 2000, abduction experiencers have shunned reporting the experiences to scientists or psychologists or therapists and turned instead to the communities of other experiencers on the internet.

[26] See Wilson, Colin. Poltergeist! A Study in Destructive Haunting, Putnam, 1982, pgs. 278-79, and the case of Icelandic mediumIndridi Indridason.

[27] That is, unless some “deceased person” is found to be associated with the site or attached to the focus person, or a crime against the focus person is revealed by subsequent/concurrent therapeutic procedures with the focus. One theory holds that a discharge of repressed psychic energy through therapeutic abreaction often causes the poltergeist activity to cease. But it does cease, unlike those abduction experiencers who report the events continuing for years or even decades.

[28] Gauld, Alan and Cornell, A.D. Poltergeists, White Crow Books, 2018, pgs. 176-180, 188-89, 202-207, 283-84.

[29] Tyrrell, G.N.M. Apparitions, Collier Books, 1963, pgs. 110-114.

[30] Tyrrell, (1963) pgs. 102-127, 131-34.

[31] Green, Celia, and McCreery, Charles, Apparitions, Hamilton Press, 1975; Green and McCreery, Lucid Dreaming, Routledge, 1994; UFOs: The Final Answer? Ufology for the 21St Century, Barclay, David and therese Marie, eds., Blandford Press, 1993, pgs. 130-153.

[32] See Haraldsson, Erlendur and Gissurarsson, Loftur R. Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium, White Crow Books, 2015, for a full account of Indridi’s short but astounding career.

[33] Schneider

[34] Strieber, Whitley and Kripal, Jeffrey J. The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Penguin, 2016, pgs. 37, 53, 82.

[35] See Strieber’s book The Key, in which, while on a book tour in 1998, he had a late-night visit from an anonymous man who communicated to him revelations, not unlike a spirit-guide or Carl Jung’s daemon Philemon.

[36] We might examine the overlap between poltergeist/hauntings and fairy/djinn encounters (the evidence for which there is plenty), but that would involve a monumental cross-cultural comparison. All we can say is that the maturation of scientific classification systems from the 18th to 20th centuries allowed for distinctions to be made between apparitions, hauntings, fairy/djinn encounters, and the poltergeist. And for the past 70 years we have had UFOs and “alien beings” to add to the unexplained. The folk division between the fairy-daemon and the dead was always indistinct, from antiquity to the beginning of the 20th century. (See the works of Katherine Briggs, Thomas Keightley, Reverend Robert Kirk, and W.Y. Evans-Wentz). Fairies’ status as the “dead awaiting salvation” (one fairy in an encounter tale openly admits such) caused the Protestant elite no small manner of discomfort, because it paralleled the Catholic belief in a purgatorial existence between life and heaven or hell. The middle ground between binarities must be excluded, in religion as well as science. Let’s just say that what always distinguished human ghosts from the Good People was the fairies’ interests in partying and dancing, staying aloof from humans who disrespected them, and kidnapping people to marry or—especially—have sex with them to hybridize a new kind of being, one perhaps closer to full corporeality.

Old Wine in New Skins Part 2: The New Dispensation of the Non-Human Intelligence (NHI) vs. Natural Human Creativity

Spear Machine

If things like this are going to happen, the ladies will be afraid to sleep alone in the house if so much as a sewing-machine or apple-corer be about.

—P.T. Barnum, 1855, on John Murray Spear’s Machine

 

In one popular current, some now refer to these “extraterrestrials” as “non-human intelligences” (NHI), and “contact modalities” (CM) can be used for humans’ interaction with them. The nebulousness of both concepts, NHI and CM, is wide enough to encompass what we call synchronicities, NDEs, OBEs, vivid “unwilled” daydreams, hypnagogic visions, encounters with elementals, earth-spirits, fairies, and extraterrestrials.

PasulkaVallee

Diana Pasulka & Jacques Vallée

In her recent book American Cosmic,[1] Diana Pasulka speaks of this Otherworldly communication phenomenon in the cases of NASA aerospace engineer Timothy Taylor and geneticist Dr. Gary Nolan (“Tyler D” and “James” respectively in the text). Taylor received “transmissions” from meditative procedures. Designs or concepts for biomedical technologies occurred unbidden in his mind during these processes. He apparently linked these ideas’ irruption to NHIs. It started for him when he had a strange experience in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster: a “memory” that a military-proposed experiment on the next shuttle Columbia would work—which it eventually did, but he hadn’t even proposed it yet. He traces this “anomalous reception” to being exposed to a type of energy at a “very special facility” at NASA after briefly leaving then returning to the Administration:

“There was something in (that special room) that either emitted frequencies or signals and they didn’t want those to escape or they didn’t want signals to get in. I never knew which. It was a mysterious place, and we weren’t allowed to talk about it.”

 That room, Tyler felt, zapped him with energy that changed the “frequencies” of his body and his thoughts. It was after this experience that he began to have more “memories” of bio-medical technologies.

 In the program, I started to find myself on jobs where I interfaced directly with the phenomenon. I know its language. It does speak to us, in space. I don’t know who is responsible for putting me on those on these jobs. I think that somehow they are responsible for it. My own direct boss doesn’t know what I do. This is how the program works.”[2]

Eventually Taylor came to believe that NHIs communicate with persons via a field connected to the energies surrounding DNA.

Nolan had classic abduction experiences while young and in his 30s but kept them secret, apparently, until the past few years. He, too, holds many patents and believes some of his idea-germs to be of non-human origin. Currently, Taylor and Nolan are pursuing an informational “DNA-antenna” model to potentially explain paranormal phenomena. Along with physician Christopher “Kit” Green, Nolan is investigating MRI scans and the genomes of contactees and experiencers for DNA markers that may predispose them to undergoing the contact modalities.[3]

Pasulka links Taylor’s and Nolan’s experiences with testimony given to her by former astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, who founded the Institute for Noetic Sciences and Foundation (1973-present) and the Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial Encounters (FREE). FREE uses and seeks to establish contact with NHIs using the various “contact modalities.”

FREE was founded in 2012 by Mitchell, astrophysicist Dr. Rudy Schild, therapist Mary Rodwell, and attorney Rey Hernandez. In March 2012, Hernandez had an experience (including missing time) involving a “plasma-like being” in his house that healed the family’s dying pet terrier; his wife Dulce described it as an angel, because she had been intensely praying for the dog. Dulce Hernandez then witnessed UFOs (her “angels”) regularly for several months…One night in August 2012 Rey, on a lark, “called down” an enormous craft witnessed by neighbors, friends, and family. Then driving to work one morning soon after this he received a vision of the “contact modalities”: NDEs, UFOs, synchronicities, OBEs, telepathic communications, and mediumistic contacts, all arrayed out as spokes in a wheel and seen during what he describes as an out-of-body experience. This experience so energized Hernandez that he emailed ET abduction/contactee therapist Mary Rodwell, who put him in contact with Rudy Schild, then through Schild, Edgar Mitchell, with whom he ended up having a meeting that very day (Mitchell lived close by). Within 72 hours of Hernandez’s OBE experience the groundwork had been laid for FREE (in both their views, this was further evidence of a kind of collaboration with these higher intelligences). Schild became the science advisor and Mitchell would set up the new organization, which would primarily study consciousness with reference to “anomalous cognition” using Mitchell’s quantum hologram theory of physics and consciousness as a model. It has since brought in dozens of researchers including channeling expert Jon Klimo, Dr Joseph Burkes, and perhaps members of the “invisible college” such as Jacques Vallee.[4] Five years of field work canvassing experiencers produced a book on contact with non-human intelligences.[5]

Is this just a new-coined interpretation of natural inspiration during or after the fact? We have no idea in the least how human imagination and creativity work, let alone how a non-human intelligence would mix with or add to it. But we do know this: no “new” idea exists or springs from a vacuum. Except for anecdotes about geniuses such as Leonardo, Ramanujan, Nikola Tesla, andBuckminster Fuller, ideas usually do not spring fully-formed and translatable to paper in the human psyche. When they have done so in the UFO/NHI community, they’ve often been laughable mish-mashes of misunderstood or fantasy science since the 1950s or even before.

The idea of a technology being gifted by higher powers is one of the oldest human myths, and Pasulka elaborates on the myth in the context of Silicon Valley. Much of it involves information theory and DNA, fields, and transmission, in which the arrow of signification is dangerously reversedby literalizing the metaphors between biology and machines.

In Pasulka’s and our contexts NHI intervention would seem to undermine the idea of the ownership of new creations by a personal ego; the inventor instead becomes the “receiver” or “discoverer” of intellectual property. Such a humble concept becoming accepted in today’s Silicon Valley has the likelihood of Squeaky Fromme making parole. Pasulka mentions the “extended cognition” that our computers are making possible and believes this mirrors the talk of “Oneness” in traditional mysticism.[6]

Again, none of this is really new. It is just that inventions “indistinguishable from magic” are now so widespread that they are almost met with yawns.

John Spear

Consider the fate of Unitarian minister John Murray Spear. After recuperating from a severe beating by paleo-MAGAists in Portland, Maine that put him in a coma, he encountered Andrew Jackson Davis’s work in 1846. While experimenting with seances in 1851—in true utopist fashion—Spear proclaimed that Spiritualist commune with discarnate intelligences was humanity’s future. Following his spirit guides’ commands to the letter, he formed an organization consisting of six groups: the Healthfulizers, Educationalizers, Agriculturalizers, Elementizers, Governmentizers, and the Electricizers. As the chosen head of the Electricizers, Spear voraciously channeled the American Founders and, after nine months of trance communications in 1853, claimed to obtain from the spirit of Benjamin Franklin plans for a perpetual energy machine whose fuel was something called the “New Motive Power.” The machine would grant “life” to other devices via the Mesmeric “electric fluid” and further, could replicate itself or any object one needed—basically, it was a biomechanical 3D nano-printer envisioned in 1854. This device was meant to free humankind from labor.

IMG_5868

Through Spear the spirits had chosen to build the machine in a stone cottage upon the hill High Rock in Lynn, Massachusetts—a fitting locale, for in 1852, Andrew Davis had a spiritual blowout in which he’d seen angels congregating in the clouds above it. The motor required nine months of “gestation.” A bizarre quasi-alchemical, transhumanistic ritual birthed the working machine: the physical part, having been finished in June 1854, was subject to a laying on of hands by several groups of semi-magnetized persons; then Spear was encased inside the machine in layers of metallic strips of “positive and negative polarity” within a grid of jewels and precious metals, where he went into a trance and emitted a glowing umbilicus from his body that engulfed the machine, to the amazement of his confederates. Next, a Mrs. Newton, wife of a journalist chosen by the spirits, was to “mother” the half-living contraption—and duly showed signs of physical pregnancy in response. The spirits dictated that she appear at the High Rock house on a certain day to literally give birth to the accumulated energies gathered within her and transfer them to the machine—which she did, showing for several hours the agony of parturition. The emanations from her body mixed with the chemical auras of the device. Then “its purpose and results were wholly incomprehensible to all but herself; but her own perceptions were clear and distinct that in these agonizing throes the most interior and refined elements of her spiritual being were imparted to, and absorbed by, the appropriate portions of the mechanism—its minerals having been made peculiarly receptive by previous chemical processes,” Reverend S. Crosby Hewitt wrote.

She then spent weeks “nursing” the machine with the New Motive Power. After this, its rotors and bearing supposedly began to work—but not enough to impress any visiting Spiritualists, who opined the motion they witnessed was “not enough to turn a coffee mill.” Davis himself, while praising Spear and his community’s faith, believed Spear to have been misled in principles of “science” and explained the machine’s weak motions to random fluctuations in the “ether” via the electrical generator to which it was attached.

When asked by Spear and his mediums, Benjamin Franklin & co. answered from the other side in a rather typical tricksterish way: while the motor didn’t operate properly in the physical sphere, it had succeeded in moving opinion and the spiritual outlook of humanity. Although “thoroughly, electrically, magnetically, chemically, spiritually, and celestially impregnated” it.

At the spirit cadre’s bidding, the machine was dismantled and taken to Randolph, New York. After having moved it, the machine survived only a few months in its new atmosphere; a mob broke into the room and destroyed it. As Spiritualist journalist S.B. Brittan concluded, “if the New Motor is to be the physical savior of the race, it will probably rise again.”[7]

Spear’s was a Silicon Valley utopian dream 150 years too early. It could be asked, was Spear having precognitive visions of our present inventions? Were NHIs feeding him these ideas in the guise of the Founders—that is, the “best moral and intellectual” persons of which he could conceive? We will never know, but the contemporary parallel with “others” seeding minds with technological ideas is striking. Perhaps these Others do possess a kind of physical existence, and perhaps they are much closer than we realize.

Fifteen years after Spear’s fiasco, Utica, New York “electro-alchemist” Cyrus Reed Teed would experiment with exposing himself to dangerously high electrical currents. During one session, “I bent myself to the task of projecting into tangibility the creative principle. Suddenly, I experienced a relaxation at the occiput or back part of the brain, and a peculiar buzzing tension at the forehead or sinciput; succeeding this was a sensation as of a Faradic battery of the softest tension, about the organs of the brain called the lyra, crura pinealis, and conarium. There gradually spread from the center of my brain to the extremities of my body, and, apparently to me, into the auric sphere of my being, miles outside of my body, a vibration so gentle, soft, and dulciferous that I was impressed to lay myself up on the bosom of this gently oscillating ocean of magnetic and spiritual ecstasy. I realized myself gently yielding to the impulse of reclining upon this vibratory sea of this, my newly found delight. My every thought but one had departed from the contemplation of earthly and material things. I had but a lingering, vague remembrance of natural consciousness and desire.”[i]

Hollowkoresh

The zapping produced an OBE-like state. Immediately after this, by force of galvanized will, he called forth the ultimate power in the universe to guide him: a beautiful goddess who was the “Father, Mother” who materialized from a mist to give Teed his mission on earth. And also revealed the truth, that the earth’s surface actually curves into a perfect concavity containing the sun, moon, stars and rest of the visible universe. Yes, the earth is hollow—but the rest of the cosmos is nestled within it:

“The universe is a cell, a hollow globe, eternally and perpetually renewing itself by virtue of involution and evolution and all life exists on its inner concave surface.

God being perfect is both male and female—a biune being, and personal to every individual.

Matter and energy are inter-convertible. Matter is destructible, resulting in transmutation of its form to energy and conversely, from energy to form.

Reincarnation is the central law of life—one generation passing into another with all humanity flowing down the stream of life together.

Heaven and hell constitute the spiritual world. That is, they are mental conditions and within mankind.

The Bible is the best written expression of the divine mind but is written symbolically. The symbolism must be interpreted by a prophet, who would appear in every age and in the context of that age.

Man lives best by communal principles to correspond with the primitive Christian church. The Koreshan form of socialism would be the expression of the natural laws of order, to include the elimination of money power and wage slavery.

Equity, not equality, is a natural law for women as for men. There is no equality, and to see any two people are equal is merely trying to enforce uniformity.

Dr. Teed indicated there was a great deal more knowledge that had been imparted to his mental consciousness, but he felt the ordinary minds of mortals could not immediately comprehend or evaluate it. It would be presented to the world in time.”[ii]

Apparently, Cyrus Teed received what is typically now called a “download” of which a major part could not be translated into human language.

[i] Teed, Cyrus. The Illumination of Koresh: Marvelous Experiences of the Great Alchemist 30 years ago, at Utica, New York, Chicago, Guiding Star Publishers.

[ii] Sarah Weber Rea, The Koreshan Story, Guiding Star Publication House, 1994.

On the other hand…

An Excursion into Natural Human Creativity, Involuntary/Automatic Imagination, and St. Nick  

Kenneth Ring’s abduction experiencer profile fits that of many trance mediums, persons who can receive both self-willed and spontaneous imaginary material with more ease than a non-dissociative person.[8] Because of the dissociative states to which they are prone, the experiencer/medium possesses minimal to no conscious control over the images that may appear in their mind, and the images that do appear, are far more vivid and longer-lasting for them than in the general population.

Spontaneous creative activity can often involve controlled dissociation rituals that partially or completely efface the conscious personality and, paradoxically, through this constricting of the normal ego, make its “reception bands” wider for the intrusion of unexpected material, whether it takes aural, verbal, visual, or physical (automatic writing) forms.

An artist, for instance, may welcome these intrusions, and a musician may revel in them. For creative persons, an element of intention is obviously present in the execution of the final product. What we call creativity in general, and the types of work evaluated as genius-level, involves a special state of consciousness that allows material to flow into the artist’s or scientist’s mind: “(Frederic Myers) linked genius with the classical notion of inspiration, saying that an “inspiration of genius” is a “subliminal uprush,” an emergence into supraliminal consciousness of ideas that the person has “not consciously originated, but which have shaped themselves beyond his will, in profounder regions of his being” (Human Personality Vol. 1, page 71). Another central element of creativity for Myers was the integration of ideas arising from subliminal regions with those of the supraliminal self, the “utilization of a greater proportion of man’s psychical being in subservience to ends desired by his supraliminal control” (HP, Vol. 1, pg. 155). The outcome of the creative process is something intended and desired by the supraliminal, and the supraliminal does plays a key role in the completion of what begins with a subliminal uprush. The heart of the creative process is an automatism, but its combination and completion occur in the realm of the supraliminal. Thus, creativity is a highly desirable integration of the two aspects of the psyche and an instance of superior functioning. It is also an indication of what the human soul is capable of, because there is a hint of something “beyond,” “something incommensurable” with “the results of conscious logical thought” (Vol. 1, pg. 98).” [9] (emphasis added)

Mystics historically also have cultivated methods of altering their physiological and mental states to enter trance that brings their consciousness closer to the “source,” or God, such as extreme fasting, repetitive prayer, or self-mortification. Michael Talbot discusses the Sufis’ repetitive meditational practices of creative visualization meant to bring about both contact with Allah and materialize His emanations of an alternate reality: “(The Sufis) held that it is a world created solely out of the subtle matter of alam almithal, or thought. Even space itself, including ‘nearness,’ ‘distances,’ and ‘far-off’ places, was created by thought. But this does not mean that the country of the hidden Imam was unreal, a world constituted out of sheer nothingness. Nor was it a landscape created by only one mind. Rather it was a plane of existence created by the imagination of many people, and yet one that still had its own corporeality and dimension, its own forests, mountains, and even cities. The Sufis devoted a good deal of their writings to the clarification of this point. So alien is this idea to many Western thinkers that the late Henry Corbin, a professor of Islamic religion at the Sorbonne in Paris and a leading authority on Iranian-Islamic thought, coin the term imaginal to describe it, meaning a world that is created by imagination but is ontologically no less real than physical reality…Because of the imaginal nature of the afterlife realm, the Sufis concluded that imagination itself is a faculty of perception, an idea that offers new light on why (psychotherapist Joel) Whitton’s subject materialized a hand only after he started thinking, and why visualizing images has such a potent effect on the health and physical structure of our bodies. It also contributed to the Sufis belief that one could use visualization, a process they called ‘creative prayer,’ to alter and reshape the very fabric of one’s destiny.” [10]

This reiterates the theory of Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the 18th-19th Century poets’ conception of the Imagination. Consider this famous quote from Coleridge:

The Primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and is a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary imagination I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to re-create or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still, at all events, it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.[11]

The current ideas of a non-human extraterrestrial intelligence both figuratively and literally alienatethe natural human ability to produce novel ideas (signals) that have been filtered down from the noise of the total consciousness, supraliminal and subliminal, of humanity. Is there a genuine justification to externalize these intrusions to a non-human type of consciousness?

When in trance or mild dissociation, the resting state of a brain’s filtering mechanism is altered to a degree.[12] This allows material that is, to use a metaphor, a mental/aural snapshot of something outside the normal boundaries of personal egoic “habitation.” Much of the brain’s activity, on both synaptic-neuronal and hemispheric/sectional levels, functions in inhibitory ways to make possible what is considered smooth conscious functioning. The study of damage to a tiny area of the brain can reveal the ostensibly global function that area controls with regard to normal consciousness; collectively accumulated over a century, this “catalog of functions” helps us understand the productive or inhibitory scheme of the human cognitive world with regard to the brain.

In this way the physical aspects of certain base-level filtering mechanisms have been mapped. Blood flow, electrical activity, and coherent communication between hemispheres all contribute to the norm, of course, but tissue death, damage, or anesthesia can produce states similar to hypnosis, hypnagogia, dreams, or OBEs—and also extraordinary feats of psi activity. The original mesmerists and hypnotists of the 19th century proposed models of the hypnoid mesmeric state that implicated general loss of integrated brain and nervous system functioning during the “self-healing,” “remote healing,” telepathy, clairvoyance, and even psychokinesis observed in various patients and volunteer subjects.[13]

There seems to be a general principle, in line with Myers’s thinking, that for every physical loss of a brain function that produces a physical compensation there are ancillary effects to behavior that are sometimes extraordinary…Consider the fact that animals, including humans, can still competently function with severe physical brain damage and even without fully formed brains. Neurophysiologist Karl Pribram once puzzled over neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield’s “engram” conjecture that everything ever experienced by a person is recorded in the brain’s trillionfold complex of connections. Penfield had electrically stimulated parts of epileptics’ brains while they were in surgery and received detailed accounts of memory replays (engrams) from earlier moments in the patients’ lives, sometimes going back to early childhood.[14] Pribram’s work with psychologist Karl Lashley added to the mystery: Lashley had discovered that maze-running rats could still remember the paths they’d figured out despite having both the memory and learning portions of their brains removed—and even having the entire organ rearranged in their skulls. This indicated that the physical substrate was not where the engrams of experience reside. At the very least (on a material level), memories are distributed throughout the entire brain and can be retrieved despite damage to the areas where they should reside.

In cerebellar agenesis, a person is born with an incomplete or even entirely missing cerebellum, which controls motor movement of the limbs and the ability to speak. Yet there are people born with cerebellar agenesis who function relatively normally, such as the Chinese woman found in 2014, where these capacities are only impaired and not entirely absent, as should be the case if the substrate was entirely responsible for the motor competency.[15] There are also startling examples such as the man who suffered from hydrocephaly when a child; at 44, in 2007, he was discovered to have only 30-50% of his brain intact, the rest being simply cerebrospinal fluid. He had an IQ of 75 and led a normal life until the discovery.[16] A boy born in Scotland in 2013 with only a brainstem and a fluid-filled skull is now six and can speak, despite the medical opinion that he should still have only the capacities of a newborn. Another child born in 2014 lacks both a skull and brain and could speak rudimentarily.[17]

These cases obviously at least imply that something more than the physical brain is the key to understanding consciousness and memory. Physicalist science has no answer yet as to how these people can function.

An obvious hypothesis is that consciousness does not reside in or is produced by the brain but is filtered via brain structures from a “field” of possible conscious experience, as Myers hinted. This is idea with a long pedigree and has been much denigrated by mainstream scientists since the 19thcentury.

Metachoria

Creativity may involve a narrowing of the physical markers (brain activities) of normal consciousness that produces a corresponding expansion of access to another part of the mind—or even another kind of consciousness altogether.

I believe Coleridge and Corbin are speaking of what we may call (adapting Celia Green’s coinage) the metachoria and the specific images that emerge from it into consciousness, metachores. Metachores (such as the “heavenly cities” created by the Sufis) are invested with meditational energies both mental and emotional. They may be equivalent to the Buddhist concept of an emanation body that can be created by prodigious focus over a long period.

Moreover, these images may appear as unwilled and spontaneous in anyone’s consciousness, but the artist as a trained receiver may be able to capture and develop them.

This capacity, of course, comes with repeated practice and discipline. A metachoric impression may linger only temporarily in the short-term, working memory. This is what causes the distraction so common to a creative person; in the middle of a conversation they may struggle, multitasking, to clarify and remember the sudden idea as the brain produces the proteins to store it in long-term form. This is when the napkin sketch, the pocket notebook, or the digital voice recorder comes out as they get down the idea before it disappears.

The future work—all available choices to the path of a finished, tangible product (painting, recording, etc.)—are in a superposition of sorts as they hover about the metachore, like a cloud of electrons prior to observation and wave-function collapse.

But recognized works of genius, both great and lesser, are fashioned through a process that is generalizable to all acts of creation:

A traditional descriptive model of the creative process, based on the self-observation and testimony of large numbers of variously eminent persons, provides a useful organizing framework for this discussion. Credit for explicitly formulating this model is usually given to Graham Wallas (1926), a political scientist and administrator primarily concerned with the pedagogical matters, but it was also formulated in nearly identical terms and in greater detail by psychologist Eliot Dole Hutchinson (1931, 1939). The model posits four stages or phases that can often be discerned in a high-level creative effort: (1) preparation; (2) incubation; (3) illumination; and (4) verification. Briefly, preparation refers primarily to the initial stages of intense voluntary effort on a particular work or problem (although it is sometimes generalized to include the typically lengthy period of time in which high level technical skills relevant to the task are laboriously acquired). If this initial effort fails, the work or problem may temporarily be put aside in frustration, this being the stage of incubation or renunciation, in which conscious effort seems to be largely or wholly absent. Something more than simple rest or dissipation of inhibitions seems to be involved during the incubation period, for then comes illumination, inspiration, or insight, in which radically new ideas intrude into consciousness, often suddenly, copiously, and with strong accompanying affect. This leads to a further stage of voluntary effort, verification, in which the new material may be evaluated, elaborated, and worked into the structure of the evolving product.[18]

While cognitive neuroscientific accounts explain Hutchinson’s renunciation-inspiration phase of creativity as a sort of “unconscious cerebration” or a “cognitive unconscious” that functions during both consciousness and sleep, it is still a behaviorist’s black-box model that explains nothing.[19]There are cases of problem solving (if we roughly want to define creativity that way) which so confound science as to be magical. As we noted, a calculating prodigy like Ramanujan could instantly tabulate complex operations on prime numbers within seconds.[20] Since no one has called into public existence the particular prime numbers Ramanujan was asked to do, we still need to ask how he in particular and prodigies in general can do it…It is the same, albeit in “slow motion,” with the creative constellation of ideas that eventually become artworks that deeply resonate with people down the ages. Of course, there are only finite numbers of prime numbers (an objective fact) while art almost wholly involves subjective value judgments, but in what sense do they share a family resemblance at least, or a direct parallel at most?

Getting consistently good sleep has been positively correlated with higher levels of creativity; this probably has to do with the integration of emotional and intellectual experiences into one’s general psychological mindset.[21] Every night, people enter temporary worlds fashioned entirely by their minds, briefly inhabit them, and become agents in them. Our emotional preoccupations drive the dreaming process via the brain stem and limbic system.[22] These centers are very active in emotional states during waking consciousness, and are the most active during dreams, especially the vivid REM dream stage that occurs in its third cycle in late morning.[23] Any dream can show the creative potential for recombination and synthesis that is shaped into a narrative, whether that story is implicit in the dream or imposed during the hypnopompic process of awakening. Something other than the conscious ego imposes these images and the story-like order to them.[24]

Creative breakthroughs come in a flash, or gradually in pieces. This is Frederic Myers’s “subliminal uprush,” in which the solution is often fully-formed and often surprises even the artist or scientist. The artist/scientist’s amazement indicates for Myers the existence of a secondary agency parallel to the stream of willed, accessible memories of consciousness.

AI systems cannot as yet produce the qualitatively different process of creating novelty of the quality that Myers’s uprush solves. Solutions may involve context, “nested contexts,” cross-pattern-recognition, and even decontextualization of individual elements needed to find satisfactory results. The brain’s immense “processing power” of its present conscious experiences and emotions plus its lifetime’s worth of potentially memorable experiences dwarfs current quantitative computational capabilities. The faculty for understanding context is missing in the cognitive-computational models. It is not enough to say that a human’s personal memory store of experiences can be “algorithmically reshuffled” to produce a novel thought or a creative act, for doesn’t that imply that the answer pre-exists (in some form) in the mind to be discovered as the solution? How is it recognized by the artist or scientist as the eureka! moment?

An additional problem is that an answer to a problem has one meaning in computing and another altogether for an artist. If an AI scientist programs a computer to write an original song based on a style of source material (which has been done in the case of the Beatles) or write poetry (which also has been done), the computer possesses no intentionality in its steps towards the completion of the work; it all depends on the selection process of the person(s) feeding the raw material into the system. Many millions (perhaps billions) of combinations have to be algorithmically tried by the brain when, as a “computing system,” it does not with any exactitude know what it is looking for. In other words, the eureka moment cannot be programmed for—the emotional rush of re-cognition that the near-perfect to perfect solution has arrived. Again, the artist may be surprised at the result and delighted that the answer appeared, many times accompanied by a numinous eureka! sensation. This emotional component and contextualization of a non-linear process cannot be ignored or minimized by anyone explaining creativity using an AI/computational approach.

What is invoked as explanation when a musician or gymnast or scientist respectively a) plays an astounding violin solo while on “autopilot” (and may herself be as astonished as the audience when she listens to the subsequent recording); b) the gymnast moves her body without conscious volition in a way thought impossible and is equally amazed on viewing a video of the performance; or c) happens to suddenly perceive an insoluble problem with a Gestalt-switch-like perception and its resolution is now easy and almost obvious?

In case C, what has usually been invoked by materialist neuroscience is, again, some kind of “unconscious cerebration” involving the recombination of all past imprinted (or memorable) instances in which the problem figured in her cognition. In the first two examples, an altered state of the consciousness can be used to explain how an artist can leap far beyond what they believe themselves capable of (the so-called “flow experience”). This can apply to the scientist as well; we all know the feeling of intense concentration/absorption on a task that suddenly breaks into ease.

Yet if we deconstruct these scenarios second by second, let’s imagine we can perceive the biochemical-electrical “loops” occurring between brain, fingers, and muscles of all three people during this flow state. Just before the astounding performance, in the near future, something quite out of the ordinary is about to occur, relative to the performer, the audience, and field of aesthetic judges. The performance is at this time unimaginable to everyone. It will emerge from the feedback between mind and matter, tension and release—the creatrix’s conscious will plus something extra or outsidetheir consciousness. Might we not say that the answer does not originate inside the brain structures and neuronal firings at all, but somewhere in a field of possible realities being simultaneously scanned in superposition, like a person searching bandwidths for a certain frequency?

Spontaneous actions may end with the person being called a genius. Yet in the current physicalist’s approximation, all that has occurred is a concentrated act of will that, from the outside, is described as conscious because the person exhibits certain signs of consciousness while performing, whether that performance is on a musical instrument or parallel bars or a blackboard. To be a good neo-behaviorist/epiphenomenalist, all our physicalist has to say is that the genius’ years of reward for competent learning has achieved its pinnacle; for the physicalist, there would be no significance to the artist-scientist’s statement that they were not even aware of their mind/body during the performance or when the answer came, when this may be precisely the crucial point of the matter.

Along with the considerations of the sources of genuine creativity comes the problem of evaluating a work as a product of genius. In a 1996 book, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi divided creativity as a total activity as having three components: the creative person, their domain, and the field. The domain is any area of endeavor, such as topological mathematics or oil painting or DJing. The field is the peers and experts and audience adjudicating the worth or novelty of the creation. Thus:

…the definition that follows from this perspective is: Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one. And the definition of a creative person is: someone whose thoughts or actions change a domain, or establish a new domain. It is important to remember, however, that a domain cannot be changed without the explicit or implicit consent of a field responsible for it.[25]

Myers (and I) would embrace this view inasmuch as it recognizes a social collective that responds to a work as something that may communicate truths transcending a particular period and place of origination. We would modify this stance, however, on the grounds that it effaces the element of a shared unconscious or subliminal element whose existence is being displayed through the stupendous quality of the work.

Works of genius in poetry, music, and the plastic arts often engage multiple levels of interpretation and position themselves at the edge of an indeterminacy of meaning; they possess a richness of content that evokes a multiplicity of possible responses. The numinous spiritual experience that theologian Rudolf Otto speaks of may very well be encountered in a monumental work of art or a new complex mathematical formula describing, for instance, “imaginary” dimensions that the field of mathematicians have never before noticed. Many times, a new community is called into existence bythe genius; as Luigi Pareyson once said, a genius is a type of person who creates the audience for their work. I think Pareyson means that their works are of such quality that they 1) remind the persons in their audience of profound things they already know, but have never been able to consciously formulate (put into words, sounds, or images themselves); 2) broaden the audience’s perspective on the meaning and/or limits of the domain (as Csikszentmihalyi has it); 3) create converts to the transformative power of art—and thus create new artists; 4) broaden the spectator’s experience of community with other human beings, that is, induce a sympathetic/empathic response that does not diminish in time.

Perhaps Pareyson’s claim sounds glib when one considers the changing tastes and standards of genius throughout history—but it in no way impacts the accomplishments of persons like Leonardo or St. Hildegard, whose lives and works very well could have been forgotten or suppressed in history. This impels a question like Bishop Berkeley’s about the falling tree: if the genius creates a unique masterpiece and no-one is around to experience it, is it still a masterpiece? Against Csikszentmihalyi’s definition, I would argue yes. If an artist had a vision originating via an altered/dissociative state then labored over what they were blessed with experiencing into physical being, whether or not the work is discovered at some later point is irrelevant. It had meaning for the artist, and it signified both the truth of their metachorial encounter and their direct relationship to a field of possible experience far greater than themself.

It is important here to stress that the metachoria is populated with and produces in minds images that may have intrinsic intentionality but do not yet possess an existent referent at the time they occur; they have sense to their experiencer but no reference yet in the world.

Suppose you think of Santa Claus pausing from his toy-making work to have a lager. Santa Claus in a strict sense doesn’t exist, but he can do just about anything one can imagine a human doing—even things humans can’t. The thought of Santa drinking has intentionality: we have a thought that “Santa is/was/will quaff a pint.” It has sense to us, but no referent—that is, it refers to no existing reality, other than the imagined action in the imaginer’s mind. Santa is a “prop.”[26]

Similarly, a painter might have, say, a spontaneous vision of a nightclub filled with nightmarish chimeras performing actions upon one another that no other human has ever imagined.[27] She is chilled by the image’s intensity but also very alert to its details. The imaginal scene also has sense (being set in a phantasmal nightclub, etc.), but no reference in the “outer” world—the vision does not yet exist in a public way, like Santa Claus already does. Her job is then to bring this metachoric image’s subjective sense to external form in a tangible work—a painting.

Now suppose the painter were to spend ten years making this one work, and it became spectacularly popular and survives down the centuries, like Bosch’s landscapes. Suppose people named her visionary creatures, wrote iconographies and fiction based around them, made movies and narratives using the rich symbolism of the painting’s world. These creatures too could eventually become imaginative “props” like Santa Claus—they could quaff beers, have adventures, take over the White House, etc.

All because a singular, vivid, unwilled image entered one artist’s head. Did the depicted creatures call themselves into existence via a non-human intelligence? Were they given their long ideal lives via her metachorial imagination? Or to get really out there, did her huge audience’s familiarity, admiration, and even love for her creations retroactively cause the vision to occur in her mind in the first place?

The Old Wine

So are the terms non-human intelligence and contact modality simply a renaming of the spectrum of psi and channeling phenomena, or something more? The powers ascribed to these NHIs, and their manner of contact, tracks with the ancient Egyptian, Greek, Chaldean, Neoplatonic, and Gnostic ideas of the daemon or god who provides a human with either “hidden” knowledge or future prophecy. These traditional beings were either of the heavens beyond the heavens (the Empyrean), the heavens themselves (the stars), the mid-heavens (the air), or the chthonic realms. Channeling or mediumship is old as humanity. Therefore, clearly distinguishing our hi-tech extraterrestrials from the previous 7,000 years of Otherworldly contact is probably impossible.

The vocabulary of Theosophical discourse is highly developed and has been used by many channelers since 1875. Researchers have suggested that these NHIs have masqueraded as humans (famous humans, the sitters’ deceased loved ones, etc.) while acting as “controls” on the “other side” simply to give form to their communications and, now that we have evolved in our beliefs to encompass a “cosmic perspective,” the masks have finally come off and we speak to the true names of these NHIs.[28]

What’s different now, according to the CM/NHI proponents, is that a human agent is dealing with something that not only is taken to exist beyond our known earth or even physical universe but can alter or even blend with the human psyche, just like the traditional daemon. Judging by the self-descriptions of their mental states while the communication is occurring, the contactee’s ego very often knows that it is originating in an extra-human source; there is thus a “signature” to the transmissions the contactee recognizes that the communication is of extraterrestrial origin. Sometimes the signature is displaced in time or space. The traditional synchronicity would be an example of such a sign; its content could be anything, but coincidences such as Jacques Vallee’s involving the name “Melchizedek”[29] or the continuing occurrence of simultaneous triangular marks on Dr. X’s and his son’s bodies in the 1968 Aix-en-Provence case (and subsequent triangular marks on abductee/experiencers) would fit as synchronicities, if causality can be absolutely ruled out.

Many experiencers label these NHIs with places of origination and personal names gotten either directly from the beings during the channelings or by just shorthanding the “raw information” using our innate linguistic abilities. They often speak of “downloads” of information while in contact mode or even while ostensibly fully conscious.

So what’s the difference between an experiencer receiving a download from a NHI and clairvoyants/mediums such as Swedenborg, Andrew J. Davis, Rudolph Steiner, or Edgar Caycereceiving a cascade of information evoked from the Akashic library?[30] I’d say none, except that the experiencer’s is usually characterized as involuntary while the medium’s is purposely induced. The source of both “modes,” and how the contact occurs, is still beyond explanation (as of yet). Explanation requires sometimes torturous revisions of physics.

This gap between old-school full-trance (dissociated) communications and the new modality can only be due to ingrained anthropocentric ideas of what “intelligence” is, and deeply conditioned beliefs about the physical brain and its products. Intelligence has been defined in many ways, but they all involve active skills such as quick pattern-recognition, problem-solving, the retrieval of factual knowledge—in short, activities conducive to one’s ability to navigate/negotiate one’s environment successfully in a purely pragmatic way—a survival mechanism.

As our culture defines it, therefore, intelligence would seem to be the opposite of the mental state in which Otherworldly encounters occur, which often is an altered state in which high cognitive functioning, reality-testing, and quick thinking are impaired or, in some mysterious way, enhanced.

If this is given as a definition of intelligence, then nature itself must be considered the ultimate problem solver, not simply by the attrition of the individuals who lack survival adaptations, but by the aspects of the organism that already exist to meet a need (and even a need that has yet to arise—the so-called accidental advantageous attribute).

“Creativity” as such can be measured by testing a pool of random persons with an identical problem and “rating” their responses, generating a hierarchy of novel solutions—but the process of how the “winners’” minds perceived a unique solution has confounded every psychologist, cognitive scientist, and philosopher who has tackled the problem. This is the gap in knowledge which the proponent of the NHI exploits. There is a vast literature on the role of dissociation in creativity.

Jacques Vallee continues to say that the only fact we can comfortably assert is that these Otherworldly interventions change people’s perceptions of what is possible within our reality, the nature of the universe, and the nature of their own selfhood. This may seem trivial, but its reverberating effects are not—it is the source of religions, as Vallee and scholars J. Gordon Melton, Chris Partridge, James McClenon, and Diana Pasulka point out. But the “UFO consciousness contact”— especially when the messages are meant to address our cosmology—functions in both form and contact to undermine the tenets of physicalist science, just as Spiritualism did 170 years ago.[31]

Looking at my surroundings, I became aware that I was in a large building of multicolored stones, each vibrating a tune like a great orchestra, and as they vibrated they gave off the most enchanting music…Later on I found out that specially trained souls are trained in the use of thoughtforms to allow the soul to settle down in suitable and familiar surroundings. Whatever you wish is supplied to you, whether it is a farm, factory, halls of music, science laboratory, college of arts.

I walked out into the golden sunlight and saw how much quicker my perception and vision worked… I queried whether there is a different sun for each plane of spirit, and I was told that there is. Each sun is the replica of the master sun and working on a different color vibration.

-Transcript from a medium’s travel to the otherworld[32]

To emphasize again, the idea that a non-human intelligence is assisting humankind is a contemporary take on the divine voice. On the face of it, the new NHI, contact modalities, and DNA-antenna reception sound like updated, digital versions of Mesmerism, the “electric fluid,” Spear’s vision of the “New Motive Power,” and other past theories of how the Otherworld communicates with us.

As science “naturalized” the workings of the psyche during the 19th and early 20th century it also provided the grounds for interpretations of psi phenomena via physical field-like concepts such as Reichenbach’s Odic force, Frederic Myers’s metetherial field, Hans Driesch’s entelechy, Sri Aurobindo’s Supermind, Jung’s collective unconscious, Harold Saxton Burr’s Life-Fields, Aldous Huxley’s Mind-at-Large, etc. These hypotheses have at times been used to explain feats such as Ramanujan’s extraordinary mathematical talents, Tesla’s inventions, the prodigious trance writings of Andrew Jackson Davis and John Newbrough, and of course the spectrum of Spiritualist manifestations.

These concepts of a panpsychic universe certainly allowed for the possibility that far-advanced NHIs can intervene in human cognition. The current concept of the NHI brings back those personalaspects—or at least that’s what Pasulka’s book seems to imply, that the NHI has an interest in helping humanity through certain chosen individuals.

In ancient times, a person was expected to follow the “whispered advice” of their person daemon in order to live a successful life. Those unlike Socrates or the sibyls, who were naturally capable of hearing their astral double, sought out mediums to communicate certain courses of action in their lives.

During the late 1980s-2000s, one part of the NHI/ET community went a “Neo-Spiritualist” route via mediums like Darryl Anka, Dolores Cannon’s subjects, etc. as another took the path of believing the NHI abductions were either evil or neutral, while a third took Dr. John Mack’s position that these experiences were another type of intelligence attempting communicate with us via “archetypes” or archetypal “patterns of interaction with an Otherworld.” The concerns for the ecosphere and spiritual evolution were prevalent in the first group and in Dr. Mack’s circle, but to a lesser degree in the Hopkins/Jacobs camp (in these, however, scenes of planetary destruction were used almost as a form of punishment or shock to the experiencer). The Neo-Spiritualist groups, in which we could tentatively include Dr. Mack’s experiencers, we could perhaps call the “Eco-integrated” persons, that is, those who have received and live the messages ultimately meant for them—that the earth is in grave peril from destructive acquisitive human activities.

Reading the accounts of those hardcore in the Eco-integrated NHI community it’s difficult to see much difference between their encounters, except for the hi-tech and “digital” Matrix-like terminology often used, and the ancient accounts of the daemon or the spirit-guide of the 19th century.[33] Despite appearances, in function the “alien” technology ultimately tracks with traditional fairy and djinn lore: light-conveyances in the sky, kidnappings in light, beings made of “smokeless fire,” mind-control, subterranean “bases,” interspecies sex, hybridization. There seem to be only a few core messages given to abductees and contactees and they involve our evolution, our technology, an eschatology, and our transcendence—the same concerns propounded by transhumanists, but steeped in spiritual language.

The interpretation of NHI experiences is now a group effort,[34] and the meaning of the encounters has often been made using “pre-fabricated” tropes, symbols, and narratives. The degree to which these could not simply be products of the postulated “extended human mind” is unknown; it is all dependent upon the experiencer herself labeling an NHI as the source. And these tropes are mostly products of 19th century Spiritualism, Spiritism, and Theosophy.[35]

Many of the channel sources say that they cannot “help us” technologically because it would interfere with human spiritual progress. Sometimes this is plainly stated by the NHI.[36] Had these disembodied intelligences our “ascension” in good faith, wouldn’t it make sense to convert en massemany millions of people to belief in the larger, hidden worlds (and put people upon the spiritual path) by using at least one channel to produce a beneficial gift, via either the oracular or technological route?

Or did our human world already receive these unambiguous gifts from daemonic currents but were tragically misunderstood or misused? This is all not to say that the spiritual messages imparted aren’t profound; it’s just that they’ve always been profound. They’re like Jesus’s or Parmenides’s teachings: easy to pronounce, relatively easy to understand, and nearly impossible to live. Instruction on how to live them (when provided) is helpful, but difficult. Which seems to be the ultimate message: to Work on Oneself. Evolve. Put oneself in danger. Evoke peak experiences and different states of consciousness and actualize one’s being.

As Vallee has emphasized for decades, this disembodied NHI “physicalizes” itself to us in culturally-conditioned ways, but the manifestations also are products of our minds.

There is far more ostensible evidence to believe these NHIs are passed-on human beings than “ascended masters” or extraterrestrials. The best proof that channeling the passed-on is possible is the “cross-correspondences” that were received from 1901-1931 by over a dozen mediums and automatists (those who practiced dissociative or “automatic” writing).[37] These were an elaborate series of references from classical literature known to several members of the Society of Psychical Research (SPR) who had died but vowed, while alive, that they would attempt communication with colleagues through mediums after they had passed on.

Even after 90 years this material has only been partially interpreted, it is so complex. The receiving mediums: 1. Didn’t personally know these SPR members while alive; 2. Didn’t know that the SPR members had made the pact while alive; 3. Only one medium knew classical literature in scholarly terms enough to be familiar with some of the channeled material; 4. Each didn’t personally know the other psychics, or that these psychics were receiving related scripts from the same group of “discarnates.” It was only after a few years of gathering these scripts that Dr. Alice Johnson, secretary of the SPR, noticed that many were signed in ways familiar to the colleagues she and other SPR members had once known.[38] So began the laborious process of sorting and interpreting the coded and jigsaw-puzzle like references the “scholar ghosts” were laying out for them.

There is no comparable compelling evidence for the non-human origin of contemporary controls or “guides,” but then as far as I know no one has comprehensively studied the purported ETs’ utterances and scripts.[39] For instance, have any two NHI channels unknown to one another used exact phrasing or expounded identical ideas couched in specific terminology, other than the typical Christian, universalist, or Theosophical cant? Have any produced designs for the same technological devices, or ideas for such devices independently? Apart from the idea of ringed/linked, counter-rotating magnets producing an “anti-gravity engine”—a concept that can intuitively be conjectured to work by anyone who witnesses an object levitating between two magnetics fields—the answer is no. An updated Spear machine run on some zero-point energy “New Motive Power” for our times has yet to appear (although Pasulka and others hint that there is evidence that this has occurred in the hidden world of the military-industrial-space complex).

In the case of the best-known NHI entities such as Ashtar, Hilarion, Bashar, Lazaris, or Ra(ma), we have no such template.

So where do these phenomena fit in our general cultural context, especially with regard to technology, science, and their effect on religion and spirituality?

The concept NHI implies a neutrality that collapses distinctions in any given explicit “messages” while attempting to preserve differences via the modalities through which they are transmitted. Despite the differing emotional-mental-spiritual “media”, the message is the same: there is something “alien” outside hitherto anthropocentric human awareness, and it enters our consensual reality via liminal states (between awareness/unconsciousness, being alive/dead, being embodied/disembodied, existing/non-existence). Thus the message is the medium/mediumistic, in both figurative and literal senses. The matured conceptual vocabularies of psychology, physics and information theory are used to outline the interaction process without really explaining anything beyond the bare fact of the experience that “unknown factor x caused y to occur in my consciousness.” The impersonality of the contact is used as evidence that x is a conscious entity far beyond normal comprehension. “Jesus Christ” possesses personality to a degree via scripture and human imagination; angels or aliens, generally, do not.

Minimally, at best, what we can say is that at some point spirits as both subjects and objects of immediate external or interior experience entered human awareness and memory. As James McClenon’s studies have shown, such primordial encounters expanded human perception of the natural world to include “invisible spirits” and helped create the religious impulse.[40] At some point far in the past it became accepted that intangible realities exist as surely as the sensible, and they or their denizens regularly interact with humanity. At another point in the modern era—perhaps with Swedenborg but certainly by the late 19th century—extraterrestrials as objects of thought entered our common mental imaginary as entities, just like Santa Claus.[41] At a later point in time what are called ETs became subjects, possessing agency and a seemingly independent existence that mirrors that of spirits (and of course the fairy world, with all its parallels to “alien” activities). Along with their ever-changing appearances, the ETs’ “skills and capabilities” in the collective imaginary increased by means of the growing number of complex narratives witnesses and experiencers told. Each new authenticated encounter report, no matter how strange or absurd, increased and expanded the metachorial power of the extraterrestrial/ultraterrestrial being.

To a degree, certain characterizations of the NHI strip away the status of this “new” Other even as subject and place it in a further state of liminality as a process of interaction between the human and non-human. The signature that this interaction has occurred, apparently, is the resulting ideas that are unfamiliar or “non-indigenous” to the perceiving subject’s mind, such as Rey Hernandez’s inaugural OBE in which he saw the contact modalities. The conditions under which they are received can take any form (but according to FREE’s characterization they are covered but not limited to NDEs, alien encounters and abductions, OBEs, etc.). They produce empirical verifiable changes in personality, skills, and even IQ. Despite experiences such as Rey Hernandez’s and what Taylor claims of the “room’s” effects on him in Pasulka’s book, the NHIs are utterly unpredictable in who they choose, when, and why. What, short of induced “standard” mediumistic practices, could possibly verify a measurable change in brain activity to signify contact is taking place? The absence of such testable traces unfortunately reduces their scientific status to nothing.

Again, minimally, both spirits and ETs retain an imaginary component to them at all times in the collective consciousness of the population. They are doubly liminal in that they express liminal states between being and non-being and are culturally liminal in that those who believe in their reality are marginalized.

Perhaps with this new nomenclature of non-human intelligence we should take note that its arrow of signification points not just to disembodied or “higher dimensional” beings but also to the animal world all around us. The oceans contain habitats and creatures that, we are finding, challenge the very norms of biology.[42] Exobiologists (those who study what extraterrestrial life might be like) look to the most extreme environments on earth in the deepest seas, volcanos, beneath the polar ice, high in the atmosphere, and deep within the earth—and have been finding fledgling life in the most hostile conditions. Living beings are product of a natural intelligence and are sometimes as “alien” as anything conceivable amongst the stars above us; Neo-Darwinists say these creatures simply won in the struggle to reproduce, but they are at the same time each emanations from an interdependent web of vital power that itself is the organism from which we came—and with which we have lost a spontaneous, communicative connection.

In most channeled NHI communications, the fact that our planet is a unitary being, and is currently either suffering or readying itself for a massive change, is one of the dominant messages received. This truth has been preached from the Beyond for at least 3,000 years.

——————

[1] Pasulka, D.W., American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology, Oxford University Press, 2019.

[2] Ibid, pgs. 34-35.

[3] See Banias, M.J. UFO People: A Curious Culture, August Night Book, 2019, pgs. 92-97.

[4] Pasulka, pgs 188-95; 198-201.

[5] See Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness & Contact with Non-Human Intelligence Vol. 1, CreateSpace Independent Platform, 2018.

[6] Pasulka, pgs. 140, 203-04, 207-08.

[7] Brown, pgs. 178-189.

[8] See Ring, Kenneth. The Omega Project: Near-Death Experiences, UFO Encounters, and Mind-at-Large, William Morrow & Co., 1992.

[9] Kelly, Edward and Kelly, Emily Williams. Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2009, pg. 354.

[10] Talbot, Michael. The Holographic Universe, Harper Perennial, 1991, pg. 260.

[11] Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Biography Literaria, 1817.

[12] Kelly 353-362; see Mavromatis, Andreas. Hypnagogia: The Unique State of Consciousness Between Wakefulness and Sleep, Thyrsos Press, 2010, pgs. 71-80, 194-203, 221-23 for the relationship between relaxation, natural dissociation, and spontaneously unwilled imagery in the hypnagogic trance, the first stage of sleep.

[13] See Gauld, Alan. A History of Hypnotism, Cambridge University Press, 1995, pgs. 105-107, 143-44, 278-79, 284-85, 301, 326-27.

[14] Maybe the specific amplitude or wavelength of Penfield’s charge resonated with amplitude/wavelength of random encoded memories in the patients’ brains. These relived memories by the patients seemed entirely “meaningless” recollections, because most of our lives consist of just these sorts of experiences.

[15] http://yalescientific.org/thescope/2015/03/the-woman-born-without-a-cerebellum/

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22329861-900-woman-of-24-found-to-have-no-cerebellum-in-her-brain/

[16] https://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12301-man-with-tiny-brain-shocks-doctors

[17] http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/01/health/baby-born-without-complete-skull-turns-1/index.html

[18] Kelly (2009), 427-428, 432-433, 600.

[19] See Kelly, 240-252 for criticism of the unconscious cerebration/cognitive unconscious thesis in neuroscience and psychology, and Kelly, pg. 455 on the shortcomings of the “black” box approach.

[20] Many times, these persons are diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorder or have a type of detriment to the left side of the brain, which has been shown to process experience linguistically in a linear fashion. The right brain, which has been demonstrated to perceive images and wholes with a minimal linguistic, linear component, may in fact, for persons such as Ramanujan, imaginally perceive the entirety of a mathematical world as 3-dimensional table-matrices through which they will the answer not through calculation but location via the matrices’ axes. See Kelly (2009) pgs. 87, 433, and The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist, Yale University Press, 2012, pgs. 12-13, 57-58, 61, 87, 132.

[21] Rock, 142-147.

[22] Rock, Andrea. The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream, Basic Books, 2004, pgs. 22, 122.

[23] ibid, 47-49.

[24] This other could be said to be the realm of the right brain. The difference between a verbal description of an anomaly and a visual representation of it (of a Nordic being such as Adamski’s, or Strieber’s “woman visitor” on the cover of Communion) is profound in its emotional effect. Images activate the right hemisphere of the brain that deals in the symbolic. Symbols can be said to reside and recombine in those areas of the brain. It may be for this reason that traditions from Sumerian religion to mystical Judaism to Roman and Gnostic mythology tell of a “divine twin,” hypnopomp, daemon, szyzgus, or guardian angel that is an everpresent part of us that exists to communicate truths that elude propositional form. The symbolic/emotional nexus has no grasp of linear time, because it exists partially outside it, in the metachoria. These are the dreams we most remember.

[25] Csikszenmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Harper Perennial, 1996, pg. 28.

[26] See Kendall L. Walton’s Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts, Harvard University Press, 1993, pgs. 37-38, 42-43. Props function within sets of rules that generate fiction. They possess the same intentionality as objects in the “real world.”

[27] The works of surrealists such as Roberto Matta would be very much like the vision suggested by this thought experiment: landscapes that appear as complete abstractions at first, then on close inspection gain signifying details that suggest familiar forms but never get there. Pareidolia alternately fails and succeeds in effectively interpreting the imagery in his works; they are entirely liminal in their engagement with the eye and brain.

[28] Yet ironically, the “true” name is never the real name if they are telling the truth. Although many such as Carla Rueckert’s Ra admit that the names higher entities use are just convenient, human shorthand for what they really are—the “social memory complex” of an evolved race on another dimensional plane—they usually preach that identity itself, of any form, is a metaphysical fiction, as Advaita and madhyamika Buddhism holds.

[29] See the opening pages of Vallee’s Messengers of Deception.

[30] The Akasha idea originated in Alfred Percy Sinnett’s gloss (1883) on H.S. Olcott’s A Buddhist Catechism (but was probably inspired by Indra’s net in the Atharva Veda of 1,500 BCE). The Akashic field can be made to explain and bolster belief in the reality and truthful preachings of new channels in a mutually reinforcing way.

[31] As writer M.J. Banias has pointed out, the UFO is a “cultural apparition.” This characterization can be extended to cover most anomalous manifestations throughout history, including NHIs, but their liminality can be especially corrosive and pronounced to society in our lightning-fast information networks. Building on the seminal 2008 essay “Sovereignty and the UFO” by Alexander Wendt and Raymond Duvall, Banias claims the UFO is disruptive to nearly the entire spectrum of capitalist cultural discourse, while simultaneously having no unambiguous physical signified to what it represents. There is nothing but the report, the aftereffects of the encounter, and the beliefs by others in the encounter. Belief in UFOs requires a rejection of many factors that make up the worldview consensus that drives our society: physics, religion, trust in the mass media, and products of the “creative class” (novels, TV shows, films) that are products of the same consensus. But judging by the contents of Pasulka’s and Vallee’s books, there are many scientists paying attention and engaging with this taboo subject at the highest levels of the military-space-industrial complex. Or so we are led to believe.

[32] P. Phillips and W.L MacLeod, Here and There: Psychic Communication between Our World and the Next, Corgi Books/Transworld Publications 1975.

[33] The problem may be what psi investigators call “analytic overlay,” which is when a psychic misinterprets an imagistic “signal” by using their own mind’s associations and the left-brain’s labeling power. See MacGilchrist, Iain, The Master and His Emmisary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Yale University Press, 2010, 106-110, 113-115, 118-126, 195-203.

[34] See Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness & Contact with Non-Human Intelligence, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2018.

[35] I recently read some documents on a person’s lifelong communicating with the “Zeta grey race” that could’ve come straight out of Allan Kardec, Blavatsky, or Alice Bailey’s writings. Clearly the influence of Theosophy on the framing of any kind of channeled or non-human contact experiences is incalculable. I read the first two Ra Materials books (published 1981/82) and found them interesting as channeled teachings. But again, until some channeler of NHIs makes unambiguous predictions that come true, or writes the formula and plans for an antigravity field generator or something far beyond the normal capabilities of the channel, society will continue to marginalize these things.

[36] This also usually implies an atomistic conception of individual human beings compelled to struggle over many lifetimes to learn their spiritual lessons—and it must be noted that the evolution of humanity only became a channeling trope since Darwin put natural selection into intellectual currency in 1860 and was duly picked up by the Spiritualist mediums.

[37] See Heywood, Rosalind, The Sixth Sense: An Enquiry into Extra-Sensory Perception, Chatto & Windus, 1959, pgs. 69-102;Oppenheim, Janet. The Other Side, 132-135; Tymn, Blum, Deborah. Ghost Hunters, 174-178; 276-281.

[38] In the SPR-studied medium-communications from the deceased there at least is a template for proof: the dead person’s survivors may encounter pet phrases, mannerisms, and memories that only they know and can verify as close to or identical with their loved ones. This occurred hundreds of times in the cross-correspondences.

[39] Parapsychologist Jon Klimo—a major contributor to the Contact Modalities book Beyond UFOs—promised in 1998 to produce such a book, but it has yet to see publication.

[40] See McClenon, James. Wondrous Events: Foundations of Religious Beliefs, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994.

[41] But we know that Santa Claus as we think of him was created from an amalgam of sources in the 19th century.

[42] See https://space.nss.org/life-in-extreme-environments/  https://www.space.com/25133-extreme-earth-life-alien-lifeforms.html

All About the Woo: A Short History of the New Age

“Can you blame us, grabbing for whatever remains of the sacred still exist in such an absurd world?”

It is too easy in our secular world to characterize New Age thought as a mélange of Asian, Levantine, and obsolete metaphysical ideas, only fit for those who have become spiritually lost in the wake of a seemingly broken Abrahamic culture.

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In both theory and practice the “New Age mindset” can be seen as a reforming force against rigid religious and scientistic beliefs that resulted from the technological age and the fundamentalist religious reactions against them. Many skeptics call New Age “irrational” or “anti-rational” but this is only true in specific cases.

It must be put in a broader social context. There have been two Great Awakenings in American history, those of the 1730s, and then the first half of the 19th Century, and there is a good case to make that New Age thought amounts to a third—this one embracing not just grassroots Christianity, but contact and introduction of global religions and traditions that could only have been made possible by mass communication, mass travel, and computer technology.

“New Age” culture is a rediscovery of spirituality by way of a variety of practices in which one seeks direct contact with the Otherworld that our blindered consumerist bubble’s thunder and fury tries to hide from us. Many times, the New Age lifestyle involves syncretism between spiritual belief-systems, a “rediscovery of ancient wisdom” with a therapeutic spin to it; it thus has elements of reformation against our control-obsessed and nature-negating society.

Consciousness-alteration (through psychoactive plants, drumming, patterned breathing, or meditating) has always been a pathway to supernatural and divine experience. It directly bypasses the effects of what sociologist Max Weber called the “bureaucratization of charisma.” By “bureaucratization” Weber meant the hierarchy of priests who interpret and rein in what constitutes genuine religious illumination—or, in our present day, the parallel hierarchy of experts, scientific and managerial, who decide what is knowledge itself and what are legitimate experiences/practices and spread those criteria via mass media.

But we have to go way back to determine what makes so-called New Age thought stand out today, as a reaction against.

The Catholic church hierarchy existed partly to control the social effects of an charismatic individual’s mystical illumination and the reforming, evangelical movements that almost always follow in that person’s wake. German abbess Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) barely managed to escape indictment for apostasy by the Man when she codified and illustrated her divine visions in a series of books, and became a spiritual healer via trance and herbalism. Her plainsong compositions are the pinnacle of ethereal trance music.

Joachim of Flora (1135-1202) drew inspiration from John’s Revelation and propounded a vision of evolutive ages that he identified with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; Joachim viewed the Trinity as the movement of millennial ages—the purpose of all history as motion towards a paradisiacal New Age.

Joachim said we will move from secular, human laws to become free beings existing only under the law of love.

The Man did not like this eschaton one bit, because according to Joachim, the Church would play no part in bringing about human salvation; it was a covenant between God and all humanity.

This idea of ceaseless movement towards perfection would influence many philosophers, especially the mystic Jacob Boehme and philosopher of history Georg Hegel. Joachim’s vision of the “perfectibility” of humanity would resonate down the centuries and find a secular form in the “material progress” promised by Enlightenment science. Ultimately, it will lead to our present-day transhumanist utopianism as expounded by thinkers such as Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec.

——–

When the Protestant Reformation and Enlightenment ratified direct contact between the individual and God, without mediation of a clergy, believers were no longer limited to the rituals and top-down worldview of Abrahamic-Aristotelian beliefs as fixed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

But the Reformation rose simultaneously with the scientific method and the concept of “fact.” This created an impetus for an even more strict system of dogmas against two entwined respective enemies:  Satan and the “superstitious” folkways that encompassed everything from fairy belief to the maleficarum of the cunning person.

For many radical Reformists, there was little difference between the “magic” of the Catholic liturgy and that of a necromancer. With the Puritans and evangelists came an ever-shrinking epistemology and ever-growing set of rules micro-managing every aspect of a Christian believer’s life.

The elite scientific establishment functions as a secular priest class. With Renaissance humanism and Francis Bacon’s empiricism, the Enlightenment rationalized and elevated the individual conscience to a divine right. Prior to the rise of methodological science in the 18th century the folk wisdom and folk remedies of the cunning person (eventually called the witch) prevailed in the healing of the common people’s minds and bodies. These traditional methods were centuries old, and the priests punished its practitioners. Science then joined in the censure as a system of repression of folkways taking countless forms, from a rationalizing of cosmogony/cosmology to the Malleus Maleficarum of the witch hunters.

—————

Marcilio Ficino translated the supposedly Pharoanic-era Corpus Hermeticum sometime in the 1460s; a century later it was determined to be a post-Egyptian Hellenistic forgery. Regardless, its principles founded the western esoteric tradition (and were corroborated as having some genuinely ancient provenance by the discovery of Gnostic and Arabic alchemical texts in the 20th century).

When Renaissance scholars like Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Giordano Bruno, and Tommaso Campanella revealed this esoteric corpus, an alternative stream of knowledge sprang into existence that would run parallel to the new science of Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes. Occult practice became a field of study, with scientific experimentation and personal anecdote to add to the ancient body of works.

The Reformation, coupled with the Renaissance scholars’ discovery of esoteric philosophy, allowed ideas such (as Joachim’s) that humankind was unfinished as opposed to fallen to burst forth with the power of a psychic tsunami.

Except for the experiences of reformers such as Saints Bernard or Francis, most of the products of these mystics such as Hildegard or Joachim’s were stamped out before they could become charismatized. Occultists, doctors, healers, and scholars such as Raymond Lull, John Dee, Giordano Bruno, Paracelsus, Jacob Boehme, Cornelis Agrippa, Athanasius Kircher, Emmanuel Swedenborg, and Count Saint-Germain claimed visions and familiarity with unseen forces that often schooled them in the manner of shaman-guides. Many of them paid enormous social prices for their explorations, including the ultimate: the stake.

In reaction to the Enlightenment’s rationality, the 18th-19th century Romantic movement’s “individual conscience” included room for products of Imagination, as Coleridge and Blake defined them: poetic visions and art as religious experiences, and vice versa. Coleridge believed all these came from the same timeless realm of the World-Soul. 

———-

Our destination will appear scattershot. Incongruent. But these are virtues. The end picture of this essay will be—well, there won’t be one, because let’s face it we’re approaching a time when it’s an ask-a-fish-what-water-is moment. You have been affected by New Age thought in some fundamental ways, even if it’s as insignificant as pouring fuel on your cynicism, or rolling out your yoga mat, or putting up your dreamcatcher. The story culminates in the absurdities of The Secret and the film summation What the (Bleep) do we Know? and in a no man’s land between religion and science.

But the above is a sort of pre-prehistory of woo-woo. As we’ll see, the majority of these “New” ideas represent traditions supposedly destroyed by the acid bath of scientific modernity–despite the fact that modern science evolved from activities of the Royal Society of London, which was founded in part by the second and third generations of mystic Rosicrucians; chemistry as a discipline, and arguably science as we know it, would not exist if it weren’t for the experiments of those “poor, blundering” alchemist-occultists of the preceding millennium.

The so-called New Age as we now know it was proclaimed as early as the turn of the 17th century—by this Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, also known as the Rosicrucians. So here we go:

rosenkreuz

mey4

The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz is published in 1616. It is claimed, then disowned by German priest Johannes Valentinus Andreae (1586-1654). This “joke” novella, along with two anonymous tracts published a few years earlier that heralded the coming of a secret anti-Catholic brotherhood, inspires the creation of a real Society of the Rosy Cross, a brotherhood of healer-scientist-mystics, that exists to this day. In fact, there are no less than 37 separate organizations claiming lineage from “Rosenkreuz’s” Sufi and Egyptian-inspired movement.

In Frances Yates’s excellent The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, she claims that the foundations for Rosicrucian principles are partly to be found in British mathemetician Dr. John Dee’s activities at Rudolph II’s court in 1589 Bohemia. On this trip, Dee met with alchemist and author Heinrich Khunrath. Over the previous century since Ficino had translated Plato, the Neo-Platonists, and the Corpus Hermeticum in the 1470s, a network of ceremonial magicians, alchemists, and Kabbalists had come into existence across Europe, helped in part by the followers of Ficino, Giordano Bruno, and Tommaso Campanella. It is very possible that this Prague meeting and the alchemical-hermetic writings of Dee, Khunrath, and alchemist Michael Maier inspired the creation of the “legendary brotherhood” of Rosicrucians, by persons unknown.

Rene Descartes (1596-1650)—scientist and philosopher posits, without explanation, the pineal gland as the interface between the immaterial soul and the body. Three centuries later, this tiny organ within the brain will become a contemporary New Age “fairy dust” explanation for a host of phenomena, from DMT visions to astral travel to the body’s self-healing powers. But we all know what also issued forth from Rene’s pen: a totalistic philosophy of biology=mechanism from which we’re still recovering like pernicious anemia.

gulliver

In 1726, Jonathan Swift (1640-1667) publishes Gulliver’s Travels, whose third episode involves a disc-shaped flying island-city full of highly intelligent but absurd beings. Swift’s characters claim Mars has two moons a century before this fact is discovered. Swift’s imaginative gesture will eventually be quoted by some of today’s parapsychologists as an example of “precognition” or “reverse causality,” as (eventually) will many elements of the science fiction and horror stories of H.G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Clarke, and Philip K. Dick.

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Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) moonlights in studying alchemical texts while discovering the laws of motion and gravity and forever revolutionizing our understanding of the large-scale universe. He also firmly believes in the principles of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus and the secret of the Philosophers’ Stone. Scientists and historians will blush at this, wave their hands, and mutter over this scandalous “hobby” of rationalism’s patron saint. Those in the know, however, know.

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Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) is a polymath and trance medium, and has extended intercourse with angelic and extraterrestrial beings, and in The Earths of the Universe (1758) details his experiences.

Before age ten, he teaches himself breathing techniques that induce deep relaxation and a form of conscious hypnagogia that helps him think—and, one might say, access by mild oxygen deprivation a field of consciousness greater than the finite one into which the physical brain has thrown him (we will encounter this “reducing valve” concept of the brain’s normal function 150 years later in the works of Frederic Myers and many other theorizers of the source of altered consciousness).

By age 14 Swedenborg is attending Uppsala University. Over the next four decades, he becomes a parliamentary lord, the national overseer of the Swedish mining industries, a journal publisher, and designs submarines and weaponry. 

Always his pastor father’s injunctions against “self-love” keep him humble in the face of these achievements, yet he seeks fame. In 1734, he publishes his first “scientific” work on the human soul. In it he anticipates the idea that the source of the universe’s forms are fractal holograms that emerge from a subatomic field—a concept that will be conjectured by neurosurgeon Karl Pribram in the 1980s. He moves to London.

During 1743-44 he suffers increasingly vivid visions of hell and the worthlessness of his scientific endeavors and writes about these experiences in his Spiritual Diary. 

He exhibits clairvoyance several times, most famously when he sees a fire threatening his own home in Stockholm while he is 300 miles away in Gothenburg. He is at a soirée at the time and remotely tracks the progress of the fire and is relieved to see it has been extinguished only a few houses down from his. Several days later, word is received from Stockholm that there was a terrible fire—and its path was just as he described. 

After his breakdown of 1744, he is transformed, drops his scientific studies and begins “astral travel” in his long hypnagogic and trance states. He claims to visit heaven and hell, and learns that they are in effect the products of an individuals’ own inclinations and actions in life; all thoughts and actions “echo” in another dimension of vibrations where we create our eventual spiritual realms that we shall confront after death. This concept is startlingly akin to Sufi meditational-recitational practices in the alam al-mithal or transfigured earth, in which the Sufi creates their “palace” within the imaginal realm that exists between the earth and the absolute. Swedenborg describes a threefold heaven whose first level is much like earth life. His encounters with angels reveal specific traits that will be repeated many hundreds of times when people encounter otherworldly beings, especially “ufonauts”: a cascade of information entering the mind that later cannot be recalled; extreme compression of meaning into multi-dimensional sounds and written characters; instant mystical intuition of the connectedness of everything through a very intense light. 

He warns of dealing with some classes of elemental spirit beings, and denounces human attempts to interact with them—which will, of course, go unheeded to this day…

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(1501-1804) Slaves from Nigeria, indentured by the British and French to Haiti and the Dominican Republic colonies, encode their Iwa pantheon into Roman Catholicism and syncretize a new religion called Santeria. The use of patterned drumming and dancing to induce trance is used, preserving their shamanist techniques of deity-invocation to the present.

 

Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815): German investigator of altered states of consciousness produced by “animal magnetism,” experiments with them and discovers pure psychical gold. Mesmer uses the alchemist and naturopath Paracelsus’s 27 axioms on magnetism in biology, as well as publishing a dissertation on astrological influences upon living beings. A species of this “mesmerism” is later called hypnosis, whose reliability and even existence is still debated. He designed special circular devices to treat multiple patients called baquets replete with iron bars into which he passed his “magnetic current”. He also practiced a form of proto-reiki, passing his hands over the patient’s body while staring into the entranced’s eyes. His student the Marquis de Puysegur experiments with telepathy in induced mesmeric trance, trials that will be replicated 90 years later by the Society for Psychical Research, psychologist Pierre Janet, and medical professor Charles Richet. Investigating councils into mesmerism (one including Benjamin Franklin) concluded autosuggestion was the answer; Mesmer’s actual body had nothing to do with the cures.

The fact that current psychology still has no idea how autosuggestion physically works can only cast doubt on this doubtful explanation.

Taylor

Banker Thomas Taylor (1758-1835) has a mystical blow-out while reading the Neo-Platonist philosopher Proclus. He translates Plato, Aristotle, and the Neo-Platonists into English, influencing the Romantic poets Shelley, Keats, Blake, Coleridge, and Wordsworth, as well as Emerson. He lectures encyclopedically on the ancient mysteries to the leading lights of the day. An animal rights activist, he publishes A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes. Many scholars agree that without Taylor there would have been no English Romantic movement—the counter-Enlightenment to “Newton’s sleep” of materialism, as Blake put it (perhaps Blake was unaware of Sir Isaac’s moonlighting career in which he independently studied almost everything Taylor was lecturing on). Neo-Platonism will live on as the main stream of esoteric thought for three hundred years, up to the present.

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Captain John Cleves Symmes, Jr. (1779-1829) claims that the Earth is hollow and a civilization exists within it. He bases this idea on a hypothesis made in 1692 by astronomer Edmond Halley (1656-1742), with added help from Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus (1664). Symmes’s “Circular 1” announced his intention to form a group of adventurers to reach the entrances at the North Pole. Finding no takers, he pseudonymously publishes the utopian novel Symzonia in 1818, naming this inner world magnanimously in his own honor.

The hollow earth’s civilization, long believed in by Buddhists and Hindus as “Agarttha,” will becomes a running theme in both alternative spiritualities such as Theosophy and contemporary accounts of ancient races that have plagued humanity, such as Richard Shaver’s “Detrimental Robots” (the “Deros,” 1944).

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby’s (1802-1866) bouts with tuberculosis as a young man are temporarily remissed by self-induced “excitable moments,” leading him to conclude the arrow of causation between mind and body occurs in that order, with mind taking precedence. He cures himself of TB and becomes obsessed with Mesmerism and hypnosis. He uses the techniques to alleviate and even cure patients of ailments by way of an easily-hypnotizable young man who diagnoses the patients and then plants healing autosuggestion in their minds. Quimby eventually rejects Mesmerism in favor of the “mind-cure,” and writes many books on the “New Thought“–a forerunner to the New Age movement whose importance via its offshoots cannot be overstressed, as we shall see. Amongst his adherents is Mary Baker Eddy, who will later disavow the New Thought movement and start the First Church of Christ, Scientist or Christian Science in 1879, which to this day eschews modern medicine in favor of faith healing.

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Joseph Smith (1805-1844): treasure-hunter and dabbler in Freemasonic occult practices, claims contact at age 23 with a greater intelligence calling itself the Angel Moroni, who eventually shows him the location of gold tablets that become the basis of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. He translates the pictographic language on the tablets by means of a special scrying stone. He gathers hundreds then thousands of converts whose social practices and occult spiritual beliefs clash with those of the Man. Were these events to happen today, Smith would probably suffer the same fate he did back then: lynched at the hands of an angry mob as a “sorcerer.”

*****Starting in the 1820s, following the arrest and disappearance of anti-Freemasonist William Morgan (who threatened to reveal the brotherhood’s secrets) an anti-Masonic hysteria engulfs America, culminating in the creation of the Anti-Masonic political Party in 1832. Although several of the American republic’s founders were Freemasons, the secretive fraternity has spread voluminously yet suffered under increasing rumors of back-room political machinations and religious subversion. This continues off and on until the 1860s, when the Civil War provides an opportunity to charge the Masons’s trans-state status as a perfect cover for spies. There will be periodic flare-ups of anti-Masonic feeling in America from this point forward. They will be seen as a front for the Illuminati, about whom rumors plagued Washington and Jefferson but in reality was a small Bavarian group internationally banned in 1776.

Homeopathy

Frederic Hervey Foster Quin (1799-1878) brings homeopathy from Germany to England in the 1830s, about the time mesmerism also becomes enormously popular there. Homeopathy’s originator Dr. Samuel Hahnemann’s (1755-1843) edict that “like cures like” via sympathetic vibrations is a restatement of 16thcentury Paracelsian principles. Homeopathy will be popular in Germany to one degree or another to the present day, enjoying resurgences especially during the lebensreform back-to-nature movement of the turn of the 20thcentury. Nobel winner Luc Montagnier (1932-), discoverer of the HIV virus, becomes a scientific investigator of homeopathic principles in the 2000s and be ostracized by the scientific community as a result.

*****The New England Transcendentalists engage with both nature mysticism and spiritual raptures of in an American brand of Romanticism. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) rejects industrial society for a natural anarchism and does a night in jail for refusing to pay taxes. A century later, his Walden (1854) will form a philosophical cornerstone of the back-to-earth hippie movement, and his Civil Disobedience inspires Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cath Crowe

Just at the dawn of Spiritualism’s overwhelming outbreak in America, British writer Catherine Crowe (1803-1876) publishes The NightSide of Nature in 1848, an attack on the positivist pretensions of scientism and an investigation of ghosts and their attendant phenomena. Crowe had already translated and published The Seeress of Prevorst, an account of a clairvoyant and healer Friederike Hauffe written by Goethe’s friend Justinus Kerner. Adept at astral travel, the mortally-ill Hauffe could also apparently read texts with her stomach.

Like what befalls many a paranormal investigator, Crowe briefly suffers a psychotic/demon-haunted episode in 1854 but recovers. NightSide remains a classic in open-minded rationalism towards the paranormal.

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In 1848 in upstate New York, two of the three Fox sisters, Katie and Margaret, claim contact in their house with the ghost of a murdered peddler through wall-rapping, successfully communicating with it and inaugurating the Spiritualist movement, which would be enormously popular until the present day in various forms, especially America. Many charlatans jump on the bandwagon, including their older sister Leah. The sisters travel to England and Europe demonstrating their seances. By 1853 people trying their hand at seance table-rapping and spirit-raising sessions experiment in just about every town in America. Within 20 years there are hundreds of formally-organized spiritualist associations in America, the UK, and Europe. The scientific establishment mercilessly attacks both the mediums and the believers–anyone, really, who believes in anything “supernatural”.

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A year before the rappings began, medium Andrew Jackson Davis (1826-1910) published The Principles of Nature. Barely literate and considered “slow,” Davis expounds on truths in erudite vocabulary beyond his normal consciousness while channeling. He will become a ghost and poltergeist investigator, testing the authenticity by his second sight. During the Reconstructionist period, Spiritualism steps into the breach of a demoralized America in which people desperately want to connect with their passed-on kin from the Civil War. The movement is roundly attacked by almost all big-ticket, organized religions as a practice either 1) treading on God’s territory (the afterlife) or 2) the work of Satan deceiving people away from the traditional churches.

After his wife leaves him, ex-priest and radical socialist Alphonse Louis Constant (1810-1875) meets Pythagorean mystic Jozef Maria Hoene-Wronski in 1852, whose ideas on the creation of the universe awaken Constant. He then studies the Kabbalistic Zohar and other texts, but only in translation (knowing Hebrew was a prerequisite to be a true occultist since the 2nd century ACE). He changes his names to Eliphas Levi and after 1854 publishes a series of books that spur on the practice of ceremonial magic and 19th century’s occult revival, influencing Helena Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and many other groups and individual practitioners. Crowley considers himself a reincarnation of Levi. Arthur E. Waite will translate Levi’s corpus into English within a few decades. Levi’s equating the Tarot’s 22 major arcana trumps with the Tree of Life’s 22 paths is considered by Kabbala experts as a spurious interpretation, yet still taken as a basis for analysis and meditated upon by practitioners to this day.

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1856: French Mesmerist Hippolyte Ravail (1804-1869) experiments with mediumship and hypnosis. He believes the spirits of the dead are communicating hidden knowledge of spiritual evolution through mediums and automatic writings. He transcribes The Spirits Book under the pseudonym Allan Kardec. Reincarnation and a karmic economy figure in this cosmic scheme, as well as the idea that nature spirits (“elementals”) can incarnate as humans through their painfully slow spiritual evolution. While this is a common belief in Hinduism and Buddhism, the notion will also be popularized through Madame Blavasky, Annie Besant, and Alice Bailey’s brand of Theosophism. Five decades later, in the 1950s the same concept will appear as the “Starseed” movement, this time involving extraterrestrials beings incarnating on earth to help humanity’s evolution.

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Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), a 14-year old asthmatic girl, encounters a “little white lady” after entering a trance before a Pyrenees grotto in Lourdes, Southern France in 1858. It appears to her 18 times. She visits the grotto every day for two weeks, receiving instruction. On the 9th appearance the Lady tells her to drink from the stream and eat the herbs beside it, which she does. The muddy waters of the stream are said to have gone clear from this point forward. On the 13th visit the Lady asks that a chapel be built. In the 150 years since her vision, 69 cures have been found inexplicable by the medical establishment. This area about the grotto had a history of “fairy” apparitions prior to Bernadette’s experiences. Archaeological survey has discovered that the caves of this part of the Pyrenees were used as dwellings during the Paleolithic period some 10,000 years ago. Pieces of earthenware are wall paintings have been discovered in the area. Doubtless shamans used the cavern systems for their rituals and performances.

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Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825-1875) travels the world and establishes himself as a trance medium in the 1850s. After a career teaching freed slaves to read, he founds the first American Rosicrucian order, the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis, in 1861. The Fraternitas avoided his teachings on the spiritual aspects of sex (a form of tantric practice) but these are accepted by the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor. He preaches on pre-Adamic humanity and that the human race was at least 40,000-100,000 years old–now a commonly accepted fact (if not far older). His writings influence Helena Blavatsky, who we’ll meet very soon. For 20 years before his untimely death he published dozens of books on sacred sex and the manifold nature of humanity.

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Freemason R.W. Little founds the Societas Rosicruciana in East Anglia in 1860. It attracts Eliphas Levi, Pascal Beverly Randolph, Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Wynn Westcott and Samuel Mathers, the latter two who will go on to form the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Theodor Reuss, who will eventually head the Ordo Templi Orientiis, is also a member. Masonic Scottish Rite Grandmaster Albert Pike charters an American lodge in 1880. Public accusations of tantric sex done in both theory and practice douses the British SRIA in cold water.

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American “electro-alchemist” Cyrus Teed (1839-1908) uses electrical fields to self-induce altered states of consciousness. He succeeds in 1868 in materializing a perfect female deity who opens the energies of his pineal gland, which in turn activates his entire chakra system (his words). He discovers he is immersed in a sea of vibrations. Through visions he intuits that matter and energy are the same phenomena under different descriptions. He comes to believe everything in the universe exists in a hollow sphere and founds a mystical religion. In 1869 he communicates with otherworldly beings that impel him to found “Koreshanity,” a utopian communal religion that founded its “New Jerusalem” in 1894 in Estero, Florida. Teed teaches that the universe is concave, and that the earth is a hollow concave sphere.

Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886) astounds thousands of people with feats of levitation, psychokinetic manifestations, and trance-channeling. He becomes the least-maligned spiritualist in history, convincing many scientific skeptics of his abilities, amongst them Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. On one occasion, he is said to have levitated eight feet into the air inside a building, traveling through an open window and reentering through another. All scientific investigations of him find no evidence of fraud, unlike hundreds of other mediums.

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Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886)—saint, mystic, and trance medium gains an enormous following in India and preaches universalism in religion. His “Gospel,” over two thousand pages transcribed by acolytes, is still in print.

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In 1870, Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873)–politician and Spiritualist/Theosophist adherent we’ve met before as a Rosicrucian–excretes the ghastly novella Vril: The Power of the Coming Race, a piece about a technologically advanced underground alien society. Lytton, a friend of Eliphas Levi, had previously published the esoteric novel Zanoni. The mythology of “Vril,” a super-powerful energy force, will be believed wholesale by the radical right-wing German Thule Society in 1917 (progenitors of the Nazi Party) and eventually the esotericists in Himmler’s SS. In the early 1940s, Vril will also become a PR ploy to sell Bovril, an equally ghastly popular soup made of liquefied cow.

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Ignatius Donnelly (1831-1901) publishes Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in 1882. We owe so much to Plato: His one mention of a destroyed super-advanced civilization in The Timaeus dialogue 25 centuries later spawns a huge cottage-industry of spurious research, overreaching speculation, and just plain nonsense.

1882: American Spiritualist dentist John Newbrough (1828-1891) engages automatic writing via angels to channel Oasphe: A New Bible. This 900-page work contains information on ancient languages and events supposedly impossible for this small town tooth-wrangler to have known, and tells the history and order of the universe, ethics, and the new “true” history of the Bible.

It will find vicious competition 60 years later with the Urantia Book, which deals with the same brand of alternate cosmic history. The theme from “Jaws” quietly begins in the background.

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The hidden  “Great Mahatmas” of the Himalayas telepathically contact Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre (1842-1909). He writes The Mission of India in Europe in 1886, followed by The Kingdom of Agarttha, a text about the corrupted state of the world and an underground technologically and spiritually advanced race that, as John Symmes believed in 1810, long ago withdrew from the fallen surface-dwellers. D’Alveydre preaches Synarchism, a new politics based upon proto-fascist politics and hardcore Rosicrucianism. ****When you hear talk today about the anti-modern world alt-right’s “natural affinity” for the “irrationality” of the occult, this is the primary source of what they’re talking about. A line can be traced directly from d’Alveydre to the figures Gerard Encausse (“Papus”), Rene Schwaller de Lubicz (who may also have been the mysterious “alchemist” Fulcanelli), Julius Evola, SS “Vril”-worshippers, the neo-Nazi Savitri Devi, and today’s heathen reactionaries who entirely reject Judeo-Christian religion. What they seem to have in common is the view that western modernism is the ultimate expression of the Kali Yuga, the corrupt, dissipative, greed-soaked, and evil world period described Hindu thought…so anything opposing our principles of materialism, egalitarianism, democracy, and humanism is ipso facto at least a part of the solution. Thinkers like D’Alveydre, Rene Guenon, and Julius Evola consider traditionalism the basis of their philosophies, but where it leads some of them is straight back to monarchy, “Platonic”/Hindu caste systems, hatred, and pitiless destruction of the “Other.”

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Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) founds the Theosophical movement in 1875 along with journalist Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907) and lawyer/occultist William Judge (1851-1896). The medium Blavatsky single-handedly popularizes the idea that a hidden civilization exists in Asia (the “Hidden Wise Men” of the Himalayas, or the “Nine”) and that the human cosmos is controlled by the Great Mahatmas, spiritually advanced once-human angelic beings of a higher dimension. She also expounds on the lost civilization of Atlantis—a hot topic. She is also eventually proved a fraudulent medium by the Society for Psychical Research (more of whom later).

Darwin’s theory of natural selection (which, incidentally, was concisely prefigured by Scottish philosopher David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion) presented in clear exposition the principle of organic mutation towards a more fit relation to an organism’s environment. This, Blavatsky and her followers claim, is a minor biological-materialist spin of Vedantic ideas thousands of years old. All beings are moving from life to life towards perfection, if not just physical fitness to a contingent physical environment.

But the influence of Blavatsky’s movement in “New Age” thought and practice cannot be underestimated. Theosophy would impact just about every aspect of society: art (premiere abstractionist painter Wassily Kandinsky’s influential essay “On the Spiritual in Art”); avant-garde music (Scriabin); politics (Annie Besant was a major socialist activist before and during her Theosophical leadership). Mohandas Gandhi would praise Theosophical principles his entire life, and Nehru as well. Jack London, L. Frank Baum, and painter-mystic Nicolas Roerich are all practicing Theosophists.

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1889: Swiss Parliamentarian Alfred Pioda plans on turning a small village called Acona into a Theosophical community. The initial attempt fails, but a decade later pianist Ida Hoffman and Belgian industrialist Henri Oedenkoven name the place Monte Verita. It is another experiment in back-to-earth, vegetarian living. Dancer Isadora Duncan and occultist/O.T.O. founder Theodor Reuss among many others visit for extended periods. “The Mountain of Truth” lasts two decades. In conjunction with, perhaps due to the Acona community, the German lebensreform (living reform) movement is named in 1896, although it had been in existence perhaps since Goethe’s time and inspired by his nature communions. Vegetarianism, nudism, abstinence from alcohol, and sunbathing figure in this health reform. Writer Herman Hesse is an enthusiastic living reformer and pens his novels about natural spontaneity and non-conformity that influence the Beat writers then the hippie movements four decades later. An amphitheater near Monte Vertita is transformed into Casa Gabriella by the very rich Dutch socialite Olga Frobe-Kapteyn into the site for the Eranos Conferences, chaired by analytical psychologist C.G. Jung. Eranos becomes a brand name publishing house for cross-cultural religious and occult studies, involving such names as Erich Neumann, Mircea Eliade, Gershom Scholem, Joseph Campbell and James Hillman.

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Pharmacist John Uri Lloyd (1849-1936) writes the popular novel Etidorhpa (spell it backwards) in 1895, a double-framed hollow-earth story. When it is first published, Lloyd claims that he discovered the manuscript. The second frame story involves a protagonist, Drury, who receives visits from a ghostly projection of “The Man,” who tells Drury about his encounters with a small, bald, being-guide who resembles an alien. The being expounds a philosophy that extols the evolution of human consciousness, anticipates Einstein’s energy=matter equation, the zero-point flux field, and attacks then-contemporary materialist science. Naming one’s daughter Etidorhpa becomes a short fad on the success of the work.

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Philologist Frederic Myers (1843-1901, pictured) and a group of scholars and scientists found the Society for Psychical Research in 1882 to investigate mediumship, telekinesis, clairvoyance, trance communications, automatic writing, and evidence of reincarnation. It attracts membership of renowned physicist Sir William Crookes, philosophers Henry Sidgwick, William James, and Henri Bergson, writer Arthur Conan Doyle, and many others. Alfred Russel Wallace, co-founder with Charles Darwin of the theory of natural selection, is a hardcore Spiritualist and wary of the skepticism he encounters when the SPR exposes fraudulent mediums (which they do a lot). Lawyer Edmund Gurney, Myers, and Frank Podmore publish Phantasms of the Living in 1886, detailing hundreds of “crisis apparitions” of persons seen by friends and relatives usually within 24-0 hours of that individual’s death. Podmore and Gurney, both skeptics, determine that many times the apparitions are seen at the very moment of that person’s death, or just after. The duo spent years personally tracking down both the percipients to the apparitions and witnesses to the person’s death, timing them and gaining details as to their environment, what is said, etc. This is followed in 1889 by the Census of Hallucinations, a compendium of 1,684 “veridical” apparition sightings/sensings culled from a survey of 17,000 persons’ stories. This core set, like those of Phantasms, was carefully checked. The tentative conclusion: a species of telepathy (as Myers called it) must be posited in order for these occurrences to be possible.

Leonora Piper

The SPR investigates many dozens of spiritualist mediums then eschews on the whole, debunking most as frauds. Its American branch, however, would introduce Leonora Piper’s astonishing mediumship to the world. Like Daniel Home, all attempts to prove her fraudulent through “cold reading,” “hot reading,” accomplices, etc. fail. She is active for 17 years as an SPR case study.

Myers writes a compelling, rigorously scientific book on hidden human powers, Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death, which many even-minded readers consider the best book ever written on the paranormal. In this work, Myers distinguishes between the Supraliminal Self and the Subliminal Self, the latter being equated with all the unconscious memories and forces latent in humanity (recall that this was pre-Freud and Jung). His two-part model equated with Ego-Superego and Id respectively, but without the negative associations Freud brought to the Id’s animalistic drives. For Myers it was a purposeful élan vital with creative aspects. He viewed aberrant states of mind and body such as neurotic hysteria, spontaneous trance, and psychosis not necessarily as negative states but evolutive potentialities making themselves known. It is our no-nonsense, get-back-to-work-Jack culture that marginalizes and medicalizes “sloth” and “hysterias” as anomalies begging correction–states that would in earlier times be considered demonic possession and even earlier as signs of the blessed “second sight” or the spirit-election of a shaman. By means of the Subliminal Self, Myers attempted to explain most of the altered states of consciousness that produce paranormal activity–clairvoyance, precognition, telepathy, psychokinesis, poltergeists, knowledge of “past lives” (which could, to Myers, have been memories by loved ones accessed telepathically of those passed on).

Although numbering Nobel-winning scientists in its roster, the SPR’s goal was to create a bridge between oft-mysterious human powers and hard science. In this it failed, but laid the groundwork for scientifically sound experimental psi study by J.B. and Louisa Rhinein the 1930s, the Stanford Research Institute’s remote viewing program 1972-1995, Charles Honorton’s autoganzfeld telepathy technique in the 1970s-1980s, and Helmut Schmidt’s micropsychokinesis studies in the 1970-80s.

*****The SPR’s early founding members definitely have a spirit of reform against the “only atoms and void” ontology preached by the scientific representatives of materialism. They see (as well as experiencing themselves) the disenchantment and existential despair Wallace/Darwin’s hypothesis and the biology-reduced-to-physics is beginning to cause in people, to say nothing of the damage geological studies are doing to “Biblical truths.”

Ultimately, the SPR seeks recognition from the dominant hardcore materialists of the intellectual world but fails to get it. 

Since investigation such as the SPR’s has come under unrelenting attack by scientists since the early 1800s, psi researchers eventually develop such strong protocols for weeding out confounding factors that these designs became adopted in mainstream psychology and even the biological sciences—a little-known historical fact!

The multiple honest meta-analyses that have been done of all experimental psi studies show that telepathy and psychokinesis do in fact exist, although still unexplained in their mechanism. 

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Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941) publishes The Golden Bough between 1890 and 1916, an exhaustive and culturally condescending account of magic and world mythology.

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In 1893 Chicago, Ramakrishna disciple Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) speaks on yoga and Vedanta at the Congress of World Religion at the World’s Fair. He remains in America for four years, lecturing from coast to coast. He visits the UK lecturing for a spell. Yoga becomes a semi-fad.

French psychologist Theodore Flournoy (1854-1920) publishes From India to the Planet Mars in 1899, a “subliminal romance” channeled from the subconscious of Elise Muller, a Swiss medium. While hypnotized, Muller writes in “Martian” and “proto-Sanskrit” and claims to have been a princess on Mars—as well as Marie Antoinette. The book causes a sensation. Flournoy diagnoses it a case of cryptomnesia, in which unconsciously absorbed information comes to the fore, elaborated into fantasy and perhaps—perhaps—by means of telepathic connection. Muller later renounces her claims and becomes a fantasy painter whose works eventually inspire the Surrealists—and her fellow Swiss Dr. Carl Jung’s interest in the contents of ritually/”pathologically” altered states of consciousness.

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Julia Seton (1862-1950) publishes Symbols of Numerology in 1907. She regularly attends meeting of the League for the Larger Life, founded in 1916, with Ernest Holmes. The LLL is a part of the New Thought movement, a forerunner to so-called New Age, which was founded using the previously mentioned Phineas Quimby’s ideas on the supremacy of mind over matter.

Let’s let the eloquent William James nutshell this movement’s concept of “mind-cure”: “One of the doctrinal sources of Mind-cure is the four Gospels; another is Emersonianism or New England transcendentalism; another is Berkeleyan idealism; another is spiritism, with its messages of “law” and “progress” and “development”; another the optimistic popular science evolutionism of which I have recently spoken; and, finally, Hinduism has contributed a strain. But the most characteristic feature of the mind-cure movement is an inspiration much more direct. The leaders in this faith have had an intuitive belief in the all-saving power of healthy-minded attitudes as such, in the conquering efficacy of courage, hope, and trust, and a correlative contempt for doubt, fear, worry, and all nervously precautionary states of mind. Their belief has in a general way been corroborated by the practical experience of their disciples; and this experience forms to-day a mass imposing in amount.”

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2006’s The Secret’s “magical thinking” regarding instant wealth creation via wish may seem like the absurd culmination of New Age worldview, but its deep historic roots are a variant on an ancient theme. The historical origin of the magical thinking for which New Age is most sharply criticized and laughed at is difficult to pin down…Perhaps because so many popular permutations of it flourished in books and pamphlets in the Gilded Age of late 19th and early 20th centuries. To find a singular source we could go as far back as Paracelsus’s researches into the mental state’s effects on health, or Franz Mesmer’s animal magnetism cures which led to the New Thought movement. But these weren’t concerned with material wealth. New Thought was adapted to material prosperity in a series of books, most famously Pushing to the Front (1895) by Orison Swett Marden, The Science of Getting Rich (1910) by Wallace Wattles, and The Master Key System (1917) by Charles Haanel. Haanel’s book would deeply influence Napoleon Hill, author of the Depression-era Think and Grow Rich (1937), as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936).

Levi Dowling (1844-1911) channels The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ from the “Akashic record” and publishes it in 1908. It purports to relate the activities during the “18 missing years” of Jesus of Nazareth’s life, when He visited Tibet and India. One must conclude that an inspired Nazarene carpenter could not have had personal visions enough to inaugurate a revolution in Palestine in particular and humanity in general.

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1908: The Kybalion is published by the Yogi Publication Society. Written by a New Thought devotee, lawyer William Walter Atkinson (1862-1932), and possibly with the help of others, it purports to contain the essence of ancient esoteric philosophy, that of Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus. Many believe Swami Vivekananda, whom fellow New Thought member Atkinson met, was one of the shadow-authors of the work. As then, so now.

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) devoted his life to boosting the Corpus Hermeticum and Christian Kabbalah. He claimed that Kabbalistic interpretations of the Old Testament proved in a near-scientific manner the real existence and successful mission of Jesus Christ. His interpretation involved the practice of Gematria, in which Hebrew letters are assigned numbers and complex transformational operations are performed on these numbers/texts to reveal inner or hidden meanings. For this “added bonus” blessing Pico received a drubbing by the Catholic authorities, who forced a retraction from him; his Kabbalah, tainted with the Hermetic sciences of the ancients, was tantamount to black magic. Eventually he renounced all occult studies, falling in with his reactionary firebrand friend, Fra Savonarola, by 1492. Pico died at 31, the possible victim of poison.

Through the works of Dee, Khunrath, Boehme, alchemists Michael Maier, Robert Fludd, and scholars Athanasius Kircher and Johannes Reuchlin Christian Kabbalah was passed down the centuries via Pico from Córdoba, Spain where it was first systematized by the Jewish mystics in the 13th and 14th centuries. After Renaissance esoterists Pico and Reuchlin founded their non-Jewish Kabbalistic tradition, it would never leave the current of occult secret societies to this day.

Thus, Freemasons and former New Thought advocates William Woodman, William Westcott, and MacGregor Mathers (1854-1918) found the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1887, researchers and practitioners of esoteric magic and lost lore. Mathers received a “cypher manuscript” from a “Fraulein Sprengel,” a member of the German Golden Dawn. It was composed in what would later be discovered as the Enochian alphabet that had been wrangled from the aether by Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley through a system of grueling channeling sessions two and a half centuries earlier. Translation of the document provided the basis of an initiation system. Pico della Mirandola’s Kabbalah, Egyptian religion, the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, pagan traditions, and much else concern them. Its system involves ten degrees of initiation based upon the Sephiroth, the ten emanations of YHWH in Kabbalah. By working upward through these ten levels and their corresponding 22 paths (mirrored by the Tarot’s 22 major arcana symbols), one climbed a “stairway to heaven” and achieved a uniting with God and one’s Holy Guardian Angel.

At the same time the Society for Psychical Research were investigating the somnambulistic states of mediums, telepathy, clairvoyance, the Golden Dawn was you might say, approaching the same grail with the opposite strategy. For the Golden Dawn, the phenomena the SPR were trying to establish as real to the scientific community were already accepted launching-off points. The GD required their members to develop willpower to harness these natural submerged human gifts—hence their extensive system of ritual to bring it forth. They denigrated Spiritualism in general because it entailed acceptance of the medium’s passivity in submitting to the trance state and the “beings” through which it acted as a “field.” The magicians were concerned with developing the will, not abandoning it entirely as did mediums. Florence Farr’s Sphere group of Second Order initiates attempted to not only autohypnotize by means of sigil and symbol meditation but to create second and third bodies by these means in order to travel on other planes. Mathers’ version of John Dee’s Enochian angel-language system was used as preparatory entry into the astral field.

Poet William Butler Yeats is a member. Poet Aleister Crowley will join, fight over successorships, then quit to take over another, German-based group, the Ordo Templii Orientis, then form his own Thelema (“will” in Greek) church called the Astrum Argentum (Silver Star).

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Golden Dawn associates Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942) and artist Pamela Colman Smith (1878-1951) colloborate on creating a new tarot deck. It becomes the canonical set of these mysterious cards, whose imagery as pages in a book first appeared in southern France during the era of the troubadours and became turned into game cards popular during the Renaissance. Although no-one can claim with final authority exactly where the tarot originated, it is conjectured to be an ancient Egyptian esoteric work that made its way West through Arabic alchemist/Sufi scholars into the courts of Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 14th Century.

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Charles Godfrey Leland (1824-1903) publishes Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, in 1899. Leland, a researcher into the beliefs of the ancient Etruscans, the Celts, Native Americans, and the European Roma, writes of the legend of Aradia, the witch goddess created by a union between the witch queen Tana (moon) and Lucifer (sun) destined to teach humankind the proper way of nature. Leland can be seen as a much tamer forerunner to British magician Aleister Crowley in that he was a freethinking anarchist whose Aradia preaches “my law is love unto all beings” to which echoes Crowley’s primary injunction, “the law is love, love under will.” Leland’s book has a strong influence on the Wiccan movement and Neo-Pagan resurgence five decades later.

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Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)—Goethe scholar and founder of Anthroposophy, a holistic psychology. After breaking with Theosophy, he lectures and writes voluminously on how humanity’s core spiritual traditions have been superseded by materialism. According to Steiner, materialism is not evil per se but a step in human evolution—a necessary evil to propel us further towards our cosmic goal. He starts schools that become known as Waldorf learning centers, which continue his education methods and beliefs, to this day.

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After an intense philosophical discussion in the English countryside with friends about Romanticism, 35-year old Richard Maurice Bucke (1837-1902) gets into a hansom cab and sees a fire that is somehow outside and within the car. Suddenly he realizes this flame is within him, illuminating the space outwards. For several minutes he experiences consciousness outside spacetime and feels blessed with a glimpse of that perennial mystical state of oneness that inspires poets and ancient philosophers. Twenty-seven years of historical and religious study later, he finished Cosmic Consciousness (1901) , a huge compendium of mystical experience and its continuing elusive presence in humanity’s progress. Bucke stresses that such events portend evolutionary change in both consciousness and human abilities, an idea that Teilhard de Chardin, Esalen institute (1961) founder Michael Murphy, NDE psychologist Kenneth Ring, alien abduction researcher Dr John Mack and many others will amplify upon in the next century. 

****1904: Rudyard Kipling’s sister, a psychic medium, begins receiving eloquent communications via automatic writing (in distinction to the usual vague spiritual platitudes and near-Dada nonsense that comes through). The wife of a Cambridge don, a Mrs. Verrall, receives equally high-minded messages that conclude with the words “record the bits, and when fitted they will make the whole.” Over the next two years a dozen more unconnected mediums worldwide write communications of the same quality. One is signed “Myers.” When brought together the pieces seem to indicate that SPR members F.W. Myers, Henry Sidgwick, and Edmund Gurney, all of whom had passed on by 1903, were attempting communication from “the other side.” The messages individually make no sense, but when brought together form coherent envois from the deceased philosophers. This will be known as the “cross-correspondences,” and some of the best evidence for life after death that has ever been documented.

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In 1905, author Sara Weiss publishes the “scientific romance” (as science fiction was then known) Journeys to the Planet Mars, or, Our mission to Ento (Mars): being a record of visits made to Ento (Mars) by Sara Weiss, Psychic, under the guidance of a spirit band, for the purpose of conveying to the Entoans a knowledge of the continuity of life.Despite its genre association with science fiction, Weiss is a medium and claims the book is one of genuine contact. It is a channeled work, complete with phonetic dictionary.

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—In a perfect example of early American-brand techno-mysticism, the “rappings” of Spiritualist mediums 1850-1900 were conjectured to mirror the Morse code of the telegraph. Thomas Edison, in his later years a believer in Spiritualism, claims Guglielmo Marconi’s radio device can communicate with the dead—and, conveniently, Edison’s new phonograph will be able to record the transmissions with loved ones. So buy one now.

Journalist Charles Hoy Fort (1874-1932) collects tens of thousands of news clippings of unexplained anomalies, becomes a total skeptic of the positivist claims of science, and writes humorous books of his findings that become very popular. A Fortean Society is formed in Baltimore, counting amongst its members H.L. Mencken. Fort himself appropriately refuses even to join, much less chair the group. Any strange event—frog rains or stone falls, UFOs, out-of-place archaeological objects, Bigfoot encounters, teleported objects—becomes christened a “fortean” phenomenon. The society still exists, in both online and print magazines.

Before the outbreak of World War One, Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) and Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) both claim to receive strange, coherent transmissions via radio they cannot account for (which may have been sferics, natural pulses of electromagnetic energy in the atmosphere). Tesla posits that the earth emits standing waves—further, that they can be altered, and used to transmit energy anywhere in the world. He claims he can harness them and proves he can transmit electricity wirelessly. Just imagine if this technology had been combined with a small telephonic unit.

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Piotr D. Ouspensky’s Tertium Organum (1912) causes waves in the public and in Theosophical circles both. Ouspensky (1878-1947), a writer, has been traveling the Levant and Asia searching for “true” lost knowledge of ancient civilizations. In 1914, he finds it in the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff. He writes extensively about Gurdjieff’s odd mix of Gnosticism, Sufism, and Pythagoreanism and becomes a booster for the “Fourth Way” or the “Work,” as Gurdjieff calls his techniques of waking oneself from the hypnotic sleep of consciousness. By 1921, Ouspensky is lecturing to packed houses that include T.S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley, Algernon Blackwood, and many other intellectuals.

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Three shepherd children, Lucia Santos and Jacinto and Francisco Marto, begin to see a glowing “white lady” near a tree in Fatima, Portugal in May of 1917. They identify her as the Virgin Mary and she visits them on the same day for four straight months. The church attempts to censor the news but fail. Crowds grow each time, and witnesses see nothing but the children in trance-raptures before the tree. Some see a glow. In September a crowd of 10,000 witnesses hear a buzzing sound about the tree during the spectacle. The next month, October, 50,000 people show up on the rain–and are not disappointed. The clouds open and the sun dips down, spinning. Another disc-like lighted object is seen. People 20 miles away either sense or can see the strange lights on the horizon. There are healings, and the heat of the “objects” dries hundreds of pilgrims’ clothes instantly. Lucia is given three prophecies, only two of which have been made public and involve the “penitence of Russia, which has fallen from God” (remember, this was before the Bolshevik Revolution which eventually claimed hundreds of thousand of lives and ushered in Stalinist USSR) and generally rebuke people for turning away from the church.

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American Henry Spencer Lewis (1883-1939) founds the Ancient Mystical Order of Rosea Crucis (AMORC) in 1915 and publishes many books on the occult and mysticism, particularly the Pyramids, reincarnation, and esoteric teaches of Jesus. The tenets of the New Thought movement spread outward and interest people like Lewis into investigating Rosicrucianism. An invention, the Luxatone, converts sound into color for help in his lectures. AMORC would for decades publish small advertisements in the backs of popular periodicals enticing the reader with occult powers, introducing thousands of the respondents to “secret” material culled from the Golden Dawn, OTO, and other esoteric orders.

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1918: Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) teaches that a universal “supermind” exists. It is our ultimate purpose to develop our latent faculties and actualize them. This thesis will later be echoed by others, with Teilhard Pierre de Chardin’s “noosphere” (intelligence-sphere) being the primary example. He develops Integral Yoga, predicated upon the notion of the involution and evolution of the spirit. Since all is ultimately spirit, the involution stage is likened to a theater-representation of spirit, using the material universe as a mask. With yogic practice one’s spiritual evolution can be sped up, as opposed to a “natural” material evolution that requires ages to unfold. Humankind is at a point between the natural and realizing our potential to actualize spirit. Between these two is the Supermind, an increasing connectivity between humanity’s consciousness and that of all in nature.

In 1921, Egyptologist Margaret Murray (1863-1963) publishes The Witch Cult in Western Europe, which advances the thesis that a “Dianic Cult” existed up until recent times and was what caused the witch hysteria and hunts of the 16th-18th centuries. It was primarily a fertility cult along the lines of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and was a legacy of the ancient religions of the pre-Christian Celts. According to Murray the esbats and sabbats were times of revelry and shamanistic trance and celebration of the Janus-legacy god’s yearly revival. It is criticized as a fanciful work, but nevertheless her book will form one of the founding anthropological texts for the Wiccan revival of the 1950s to the present. She follows it with The God of the Witches in 1933 and The Divine King in England in 1954.

Alice Bailey (1880-1949)—After missionary work in India and a failed marriage to an abusive clergyman, in 1914 Alice Bailey reads Theosophical literature regarding the Great Hidden Mahatmas and realizes that two encounters with a talkative apparition earlier in her life were with Master Koot Hoomi, one of Madame Blavatsky’s spiritual guides. She accepts a mission to become a promoter of the Great Hidden Mahatmas and spirit guides both individual and collective towards a future New Age of peace. She begins publishing channeled material in what will eventually become 24 books on Atlantis, Lemuria (an ancient civilization like Atlantis) using her corporation, the Lucifer (eventually Lucis) Publishing Company. The publications run through 1922-1960. Hard-boiled New York songwriter Lou Reed is a Bailey fan, and urges her works on all his friends.

***During the 1920s, the Christian evangelical Holiness movement extols the transformative powers of conversion and trance. The Holy Spirit for them is a direct presence that can be channeled. This leads to divine healing and glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and gifts of prophecy. Ideas of the New Thought movement sneakily underpin the working practices of faith healing; the Christ within heals by means of changed (converted) attitude. The Pentecostal-Apostolic movement begins, echoing shamanic techniques thousands of years old and universal in scope.

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Mikao Usui (1865-1926), a devout Buddhist, draws on the Taoist principle of chi (energy form) and Buddhist tantric ideas to develop a form of energetic healing that uses hand motions upon a patient’s chi field. He trains over two thousand adherents. Chujiro Hayashi (1880-1940) spreads the practice of Reiki, teaching Hawayo Takata (1900-1980). She further brings it to Americans by way of Hawaii. By the present day, there are two million practitioners worldwide.

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After meeting a secret Egyptian adept who teaches him of lost parts of the Koran, Timothy “Noble” Drew Ali (1866-1929) founds the Moorish Science Temple of America in New Jersey and Chicago. Ali draws upon Egyptology, Freemasonry, Gnosticism, Taoism in a syncretic mix. After his death his disciple Wallace Fard Muhammad (1893-?, pictured) founds the Nation of Islam in 1930. Fard’s disciple Elijah Muhammad develops and expands the organization when Fard disappears in 1934. Malcolm Little (1925-1965) accepts Elijah Muhammad’s teaching in prison after being visited by an apparition in his cell, and is christened Malcolm X.

1923-1942 a group of people in Chicago led by physicians William Sadler (1875-1969) and Lena Sadler (1875-1939) receives communications and notes that are eventually collected and edited into The Urantia Book, published complete in 1955. Like the Book of Mormon and Oasphe, it expounds a vast cosmology and alternative history of the Earth. In 1923, Sadler and Lena had conversations with the voices channeled from a “sleeping man” in their apartment building. He revealed that he was “a student visitor on an observation trip here from a far distant planet.” For almost 10 years their daughter Christy took notes. In the 1920s a group of friends put together a list of 4,000 questions for these beings and a few weeks later the sleeping man furiously wrote a manuscript that answered all of them.

After investigating deeply, skeptic and Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner discovers that it was Sadler’s brother-in-law, Wilfred Custer Kellogg. Sadler had been duped by other channelers in the past, most notably Ellen White, the founder of Seventh-Day Adventism, but he believed his brother-in-law was the real thing. Lena Sadler was the niece of Dr. John H. Kellogg of the famous Battle Creek Sanitarium, which treated celebrities like the Rockefellers, Montgomery Ward and even Thomas Edison. Kellogg was a notorious eugenicist and founded the Race Betterment Foundation, whose goals were “to call attention to the dangers which threaten the race.” Here’s a nugget from paper 51 of The Urantia Book: “The earlier races are somewhat superior to the later; the red man stands far above the indigo — black — race,” and “each succeeding evolutionary manifestation of a distinct group of mortals represents variation at the expense of the original endowment.” Furthermore, “The yellow race usually enslaves the green, while the blue man [which corresponds to Caucasians] subdues the indigo [black].”

Hate was in the air. Forty years later, in 1969, Mo Siegel, founder of New Agey Celestial Seasoning Teas, will discover the Urantia Book and devote his life to it, eventually becoming President of the Urantia Foundation.

The theme from “Jaws” gets louder in the distance.

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Nikolas Roerich (1874-1947)—This Russian Himalayan explorer and painter is instrumental in promoting the Hindu/Tibetan legend of the Hidden Kingdom of Shambhala and the Kalki Avatar’s emergence from it to purge mankind’s evil at the end of the Kali Yuga. The verifiably ancient Asian prophecy eerily mirrors Christian, Mayan, and Hopi eschatologies.

In 1925 Alfred Watkins (1855-1935) publishes The Old Straight Track, introducing the idea of ley lines, or energy meridians within the earth’s surface that link ancient dolmen and rath sites in England. The earth, he claims, is cross-crossed with natural living forces that can be discerned and even controlled—an ancient technology long lost. Forty four years later, John Mitchell’s A View over Atlantis (1969) popularizes Watkins’s theories and ley-finding (dowsing) clubs are formed in England, the continent, and America.

The mysterious French alchemist Fulcanelli (who may in fact be Egyptologist and proto-fascist R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, who we’ll meet) publishes The Mystery of the Cathedrals in 1926, claiming the structures contain eternal metaphysical truths embodied in stone. Much will be made of this book in the 1960s-present, by way of Pauwels’s & Bergier’s Morning of the Magicians, Colin Wilson’s The Occult, and Ernest Scott’s The People of the Secret.

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Ernest Holmes (1887-1960) publishes The Science of Mind in 1926. Holmes was a New Thought advocate whose work touches on the New Prosperity paradigm, a Gilded Age school of self-improvement which leads directly to the get-rich-by-thought-alone absurdities of The Secret seventy years later. A mild form of ideal monism still underpins this philosophy.

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1927: Folklorist W.Y. Evans-Wentz (1878-1965) publishes the first translation into English of the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead) with an introduction by psychologist Carl Jung. He also collects vast amounts of fairy lore in the monumental Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, which along with Reverend Robert Kirk’s The Secret Commonwealth will eventually provide a multitude of cross-cultural parallels with “alien encounters” by researchers Jacques Vallee and John Keel.

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1928: At 26, Freemason Manly Palmer Hall (1901-1990) publishes The Secret Teachings of All Ages, a massive compendium of occultism Western and Eastern that is very popular from its publication to the present.

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1928: Israel Regardie (1907-1985) becomes secretary to Aleister Crowley for a mere four years before being put off by the Great Beast’s habits. But, having absorbed quite a lot of esoterica in the process, he goes on to publish several influential books on Kabbalah, a biography of Crowley, and joined the 1900-born Stella Matutina (Morning Star, in distinction to Crowley’s Silver Star order) which was another offshoot of the Golden Dawn. Regardie then publishes what ostensibly is the entire ritual system of the Golden Dawn, but is actually the Stella Matutina’s take on the Enochian/Kabbalah/merkavah (chariot “stairway to heaven”) mysticism. These and Crowley’s writings will spawn many homespun study and ceremonial groups across the world, and help spur the interest amongst celebrities, notably the Material Girl Madonna Ciccone.

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From a young age, John William Dunne (1875-1949) has “contacts” with an invisible presence that assures him he will achieve a great accomplishment in his life. He goes on to become an aeronautical engineer. The presence speaks to him through dreams. He publishes An Experiment With Time in 1929, which gives an account of infinitely regressing (“serial”) types of consciousness to which humanity is subject, the second of which is “timeless” can perceive the future and past. Dunne logs precognitive dreams both he and others have that have come true. His books have a big impact on fiction writers and challenge horologists to this day.

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In the 1920s, Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) begins concocting an alternate history of the earth told through his horror tales about malign ancient extraterrestrial and interdimensional races of beings. The tales are full of “lost books” and forgotten civilizations whose psychic influence remains to plague modern man. Lovecraft creates a book called the Necronomicon, a book of spells to conjure ancient deities, within his stories that thirty years later will inspire the creation of a version of it. The stories are hugely popular to this day, spawning an entire subculture of devotees to the Cthulhu mythos.

J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)—young polymath (pictured, bottom) chosen by Theosophist Society heads Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater to lead a world peace and enlightenment movement. In 1929 he rejects this role and goes on to author many books on spirituality, mysticism, and evolutive consciousness.

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Rene Guenon (1886-1951): beginning in 1921, this French Sufi, Freemason, cultural critic of modernity, and expounder and defender of traditional ideas writes many books on vanishing religious traditions. His critique of a “quantitative society” based upon technocracy and material science is some of the most insightful and damning evidence against “the Western way of life” ever written.

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At 12 in 1915, a sickly boy named Sylvan Muldoon’s consciousness leaves his prone body, attached by a “silver cord” to his brain. He returns. Chronically in ill-health as a child (as many mystics, clairvoyants, and mediums historically seem to be) Muldoon (1903-1969) finds that he is adept at temporarily separating a part of his consciousness and traveling out of his body. After reading a failed treatment on the subject of “astral travel” by a practitioner, Mr. Lancelin, quoted in one of psychic researcher Hereward Carrington’s books, Muldoon writes Carrington (1880-1958) directly to give him a wealth of techniques to control the astral body once it leaves. They publish The Projection of the Astral Body in 1929. It is followed in 1951 by the more popular The Phenomenon of Astral Projection. Both are how-to guides, and inspire people to experiment with this ancient siddhi to the present. 

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Novelist Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) conducts experiments in telepathy and what will be eventually called “remote viewing” with his wife Mary. Sinclair claims she successfully reproduced 65 images and partially reconstructed 155 (out of 290) painted by her brother she had never before seen. His book on the experiment, Mental Radio (1930) popularizes “telepathy” as a term and Albert Einstein writes the forward to the German translation.

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Violet Mary Firth has visions of her past lives at age five. She comes under “psychic attack” by her horticulture college warden at 23, leading to a breakdown which leads her to study psychology. She reads Theosophical literature and joins the Golden Dawn-offshoot Alpha et Omega lodge in 1919. Trance mediumship in which she encounters one of the ubiquitous Ascended Masters follows. Her mentor Freemason Theodore Moriarty teaches her about Atlantis and its lost knowledge. Through the lodge and her other mentor, Maiya Curtis-Webb, she became adept at Christian Kabbalah. Firth forms the Fraternity of the Inner Light, which emphasizes the works of Jesus, in reaction to the lack of deep interest in Christianity by Theosophists. At Glastonbury, The Cosmic Doctrine is channeled by Firth and her friend Charles Loveday via “inspirational mediumship” (subconscious contact). Again, seven planes of existence are taught to exist. This idea goes back through Theosophy all the way to Egyptian religion and probably earlier, due to the association of the seven planetary influences (Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Venus, Mars). **This working procedure, minus the Theosophical-historical associations, will be echoed some 40 years later when despondent psychiatrist Helen Shucman receives a “voice” that will dictate to her A Course in Miracles with colleague William Thetford as scribe.
When Moina Mathers, widow of Golden Dawn founder McGregor Mathers, rejects Firth’s rising star-status and new organization and having the wrong “signs in her aura,” Firth again comes under psychic attack. The world of ceremonial magic is showing itself as worse than straight-up secular politics.
Firth obtains land at the foot of Glastonbury Tor and a headquarters in central London. Etheric contact is established at the Tor. She becomes head of the Christian Mystic Lodge of the Theosophical Society in 1928 then abandons all contact with Theosophy. Firth abandons the Himalayan Great Mahatmas doctrine. She publishes occult-themed novels, then books related to her work with the higher realms under the name Dion Fortune, including Psychic Self Defense (1930) and The Mystical Qabbalah (1935) the latter which showed her increasing interest in ceremonial magic.

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1866-1949) —explorer, sacred dance teacher, writer, musician, and expounder of “esoteric Christianity” he calls the Fourth Way teaches publicly in Paris and establishes the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. Claiming to have traveled extensively in Asia Minor and Tibet, and gaining access to remote monasteries where lost disciplines had been preserved, Gurdjieff teaches that humanity is in a state of walking hypnosis/sleep as the result of a genetic change that occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago. By intense Work on the three basic aspects of human existence—body, emotion, and intellect—one can create concentrations of energy that activate higher levels of being, and one can gradually become awake and possess something resembling “will.” Russian journalist and speculative philosopher Piotr D. Ouspensky (1878-1947) discovers Gurdjieff’s system in 1914, popularizes his ideas, then breaks with him. John Godolphin Bennett is also an acolyte, founding a center in England to continue the tradition of inner development.

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Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)—poet, magician, trickster, druggie, mountaineer, author. An upstart Golden Dawn member who, after being ejected from that body, joined the English lodge of a German esoteric group, the Order of the Eastern Templars (Ordo Templis Orientiis: OTO). An OTO successorship battle causes him to form his own magical group, the Silver Star (Astrum Argentium, or A A). His studies of astrology, Kabbalah, Egyptian lore, and hatred of Christianity lead him to form the philosophy of Thelema, which is channeled by an entity called Aiwass through his wife Rose in 1904. This crucial year becomes for Crowley and his eventual followers the beginning of the New Age of Horus, the Conquering Child. After a grueling ritual in the Algerian desert in 1909, Crowley crowns himself the “Great Beast 666.” Christianity will be wiped out by his new religion, Thelema (Greek for “willpower”). He styles himself the sole prophet of the Aeon of Horus–and serious controversy follows him everywhere, mostly due to the adoption of Tibetan and Hindu tantric sex practices adapted into his own ceremonial forms. In 1918 in New York he performs the “Amalantrah Working” to meet his Holy Guardian Angel and contacts an interdimensional being called LAM, which is accompanied by a glowing egg. Crowley sketches the being:

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Looks like something we’ll get to know a lot in the post-war years…Speaking of which, his student John Whiteside Parsons (1914-1952), a chemical engineer, “alchemist”, and ceremonial magician, continues the quest. Parsons, L. Ron Hubbard and Hubbard’s wife try to complete the Babalon Working, a magick sex ritual with the “Scarlet Whore.” It is meant to produce a “moonchild” who will have stupendous psychic and occult powers. Ironically, Parsons fails to detect in the ether his own death by experimental rocket fuel combustion at his house in 1952. Hubbard abandons the OTO and goes on to create the ultimate tax dodge, brainwashing experiment, and extraterrestrial-worshipping cult all in one: the Church of Scientology. The Church heroically battles Werner Erhard’s est (now Landmark Forum), the German government, various tax agencies, and rival cults for human souls to this day.

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Edgar Cayce (1877-1945)—prodigious Christian trance channeler and psychic becomes the most accurate prognosticator in history. His lifelong work of personal “readings” of individuals’ karmic situations revives American interest in reincarnation and Atlantis.

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Japanese scholar Daisetzu Teitaro Suzuki (1870-1966) writes Essays in Zen Buddhism (1927-1934). Translated into English in the 1950s, they have a gradual but subsequent enormous impact upon Western culture via the expositions of Alan Watts, Paul Reps, and many other writers and lecturers. ***The character Master Yoda indirectly teaches the Tao-Zen philosophy to hundreds of millions through the Star Wars films; when we first meet him in The Empire Strikes Back he is performing a Bodhidharma-like character of the holy fool—until Luke Skywalker’s impatience causes him to drop the facade. 

In 1934, theosophist Guy Ballard (1878-1939) claims he has met the Ascended Master alchemist Count St. Germain on Mount Shasta in California. He is taken beneath the mountain, where he is counseled by 12 Venusian Masters. He and his wife Edna spend the next five years spreading the gospel of the I AM Activity, the first explicitly extraterrestrial contactee movement, 15 years before UFOs and their occupants become widely reported and an underground occult phenomenon. Back in 1905, a book called A Dweller on Two Planets was published by Frederick Spencer Oliver, which tells of Lemurians escaping the destruction of their home and taking up residence under the mountain. Although written between 1883/1884 and 1886, it was published after Oliver’s death, and was allegedly channeled through automatic writing. Ballard was probably influenced by this work, and introduced the term “Ascended Masters” to the world.

As we’ve seen, Swedenborg, Madame Blavatsky, D’Alveydre, Andrew J. Davis, Cyrus Teed, Aleister Crowley, Edgar Cayce, Sara Weiss, Helene Smith, and the Sadlers have all claimed contact with higher intelligences that guide their pens and plans. In the future, Helen Schucman (A Course in Miracles, 1965-1974), Jane Roberts (The Seth Material), Philip K. Dick (as the basis of his final novels), Billy Meier (Plejaren communications), and countless UFO contactees will continue receiving on different frequencies. Channeling is as old as humanity, and continues to this day. 

1935: Physicist Erwin Schrodinger’s interpretation of the Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky quandary regarding the entangled states of quantum particles uneasily implies that observation and measurement is necessary to create definite experimental results—and by extension, the results of any experiment whatsoever. Some theorists (decades later) even claim that a mental corollary to the “collapse of wave functions” is necessary to produce any conscious phenomena. Schrodinger regards his “Cat in a Box” thought experiment as a reduction ad absurdum argument, but there is no viable alternative to counter its ridiculous conclusion that the boxed cat, at the mercy of a decaying uranium chunk that will trigger a poison gas, is in a superposed state of being both alive and dead until the box is opened and observed. Seven years earlier, Werner Heisenberg discovered the limits to measurable observation of the subatomic world with his uncertainty principle. Together, it seems that physics has hit a wall…Thirty years later, Scottish physicist John Bell will propose that an experiment measuring the changed polarization of one of a set of twin particles (“born” at the same time but moving in opposite directions) might solve the entanglement problem–but, given a simultaneous change in the sister particle, it would negate Einsteinian locality, that is, the absolute speed of light that Einstein claims is inviolable for an observer. The experiment has been performed, and the non-local entanglement proved, at least four times. How is the polarization information communicated faster than light speed between the particles?

 

*****By this time, active interest or participation in non-Christian traditions is tolerated as eccentricity. Behind the Judeo-Christian facade of America however, Freemasonry has spawned hundreds of similar fraternities, from the International Order of Odd Fellows, the African-American Prince Hall Order, the Shriners, the Rotarians, et cetera. America has become a nation full of secret societies–the KKK most notoriously. Esoteric belief systems with Egyptian roots are running parallel to members’ public affiliation with the varieties of Christianity and Judaism practiced across the land. In 1935, Franklin Delano Roosevelt mandates a Masonic eye/pyramid symbol be placed on the US $1 bill. This will inspire much speculation decades later and bring the Freemasons under scrutiny again.
With technological wonders such as the Hoover Dam and the turbine engine striking a magickal resonance in the American psyche, the machine seems to be writing its own hagiography into the soul. The new is rightfully displacing the old. Medicine is rapidly advancing against disease. Science fiction works show visions of machine-run worlds of the future.

It is this backdrop of “perfectibility” of humanity via technology that the Transhumanist movement will eventually arise five decades later, in the 1980s, a melange of Silicon Valley know-how and Timothy Leary-style techno-dreams of human immortality. This end-project was long ago prophesied by Sir Francis Bacon and the Rosicrucians.

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In 1934, Nazi SS officer and scholar Otto Rahn (1904-1939) writes The Crusade Against the Grail, about the suppressed French-Spanish Cathar (Albigensian) sect of the Middle Ages and the Cathar’s connection to the Holy Grail. He is first to conjecture that the true Grail has something to do with a royal bloodline—an Aryan bloodline, of course. We see what Dan Brown does with this in his Da Vinci Code. It’s not pretty.

The Long Island Church of Aphrodite is formed in 1939 by Russian exile Gleb Botkin (1900-1969). Botkin despises the gynophobia of the orthodox Christian churches and has personal revelations of the Goddess as primary deity. Convert W. Colman Keith writes Divinity as the Eternal Feminine in 1959 and helps set in motion American goddess worship.

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Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) moves to America from Austria in 1939. A dissident Freudian psychoanalyst, Reich comes to believe in an energy force he calls orgone, which peaks in humans during orgasm. He builds a machine to accumulate the energy (without any of the fun), claiming it can cure disease. In 1954, he develops the “cloudbuster” (shown above) to dissipate the negative energy (deadly orgone=DOR) unleashed by both nuclear weapons tests and the UFOs he believes are plaguing him and his followers. His cloudbusting machines apprarently work, and farmers call him to use the simple machine to create rain. After the AMA and FBI get wind of a growing movement, his works are banned, his orgone accumulator machines are destroyed in a witch hunt that rivals the Nazis’s destruction of “non-Aryan” literature and art, and he dies in prison. He must really have been onto something!

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In 1944, Amazing Stories editor Ray Palmer (1910-1977) publishes (the likely schizophrenic) Richard Shaver’s tale I Remember Lemuria. It inspires paranoia in many of its readers, who begin to send in their own tales of encounters with Shaver’s “Deros”, a malicious underground robotic race who inhabited the surface of the earth millennia ago. As we’ve seen, a good/evil/powerful society in the hollow earth is an idea thousands of years old in Hinduism.

A folk phenomenon like Palmer/Shaver’s will be echoed forty years later when “experiencer” Whitley Strieber receives tens of thousands of letters from people recounting encounters with paranormal beings like the ones he described in his book Communion.

In 1946-47, Palmer publishes Harold Sherman’s Green Man tales, which also appeared in Amazing Stories. The tales, featuring Numar, the green-skinned main character, were apparently inspired by Sherman’s own odd experience in 1945: Sometime in the year 1945, when Martha and I were living in Chicago, I had a series of visions wherein I saw Space Beings, possessed of high intelligence, visiting our Earth in space ships of different shapes and sizes, for the purpose of exploration and eventually to fill our skies with large space vehicles, coming in force, hopefully on a friendly mission to help Mankind save itself from self-destruction.

Sound familiar? Klaatu barada nikto!

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***With Dr. Mystic (1935), a psychic detective, comic books regularly treat the paranormal and supernormal in their stories and characters. Superman (1939) is an extraterrestrial. The ancient gods and hidden occult forces are real (Captain Marvel [1939]) Radiation is a force that can mutate humans into superhumans (Spider-Man [1962]). There are secret schools for these mutated humans (The X-Men [1963]). The effect of these characters and ideas on youth for the next four generations will be incalculable. Just look at Hollywood. Just look.

Yogananda

In 1946, Parmahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) publishes The Autobiography of a Yogi, which eventually introduces millions of people to meditation and yoga, including Beatle George Harrison in 1966 and a teenage Steve Jobs. The book becomes a spiritual classic.

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1946-1953: Dr. Meade Layne (1882-1961) works with trance medium Mark Probert (pictured) to channel knowledge about “extraterrestrial” entities, who claim they are actually intra-dimensional beings who hack our terran and human energy fields to materialize their vehicles. This early pre-flying-saucer craze hypothesis is ridiculed during the classic UFO years (1947-1973) in favor of the nuts-and-bolts, mechanical spacecraft theory, until Layne’s intra-dimensional theory reemerges with a vengeance, beginning with John Keel’s Operation Trojan Horse (1970) and The Mothman Prophecies (1975) and the ET-skeptical works of mathematician/ufolologist Jacques Vallee (1939–).

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R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz (1887-1961) studies mathematics and mysticism while growing up. On a trip to Egypt in the 1920s, the asymmetrical Temple of Luxor fascinates him. He spends the next twelve years measuring the structures and discovers knowledge of both the Golden Ratio and Phi encoded in the architecture.  This leads him to a series of interpretations of abstract symbolic messages in the whole of the Egyptian architectural history. He believes their religion was embodied in buildings that reflected advanced astronomical knowledge that was not entirely endemic to Egyptian genius, but the legacy of a previous highly advanced civilization that has been lost to history. His Temple of Man published in 1949 kicks off a new paradigm with which to study the Egyptian religion. He also is an adherent of d’Alveydre’s Synarchist movement, which preaches a rigidly theocratic society, and is friends with Hitler’s right-hand man Rudolf Hess. His Egyptology will be boosted by John Anthony West in the 1970s to the present, and Graham Hancock will boost West’s ideas in the 1990s with Fingerprints of the Gods. Here’s the beginnings of pyramid power mysticism…

***1946 onward: Extended contact with UFOs and supposed messages from the “extraterrestrial intelligences” begins, continuing to the present day. A very short list of persons would include: Guy Ballard, Mark Probert, George Adamski, George King, Eugenio Siragusa, Pierre Monnet, Billy Meier, Ruth Norman, Truman Bethurum, George Hunt Williamson, Orfeo Angelucci, George van Tassel, Claude Vorilhon (“Rael”), Woodrow Derenberger, Marshall Applewhite, Howard Menger, Betty Andreasson, Carla Rueckert, and Whitley Strieber. “Space Brother” contactee George Hunt Williamson proclaims a “New Age” in connection with the equinoctial turn to Aquarius in 1953…As mentioned above, in the 1960s and 1970s journalist John Keel and mathematician Jacques Vallee are the only two real skeptics about these being extraterrestrial contacts, and they cover the progress of cult-like movements surrounding contactees in their books. They warn that utilizing single frames of reference when dealing with UFO phenomena and believing anything these “ultraterrestrial” (Keel’s term) beings say will invariably bring ruin to investigator and devotee alike. They are proven correct many times, most notoriously by the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide in 1997.

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Poet Robert Graves (1895-1985) publishes The White Goddess: a Historical Grammar of Poetic Mythin 1948. By analyzing the Celtic and Levantine myths, Graves sees his project as a deeper continuation of Frazer’s The Golden Bough and posits an ancient goddess cult, for which “white goddess” is the moon, that was product of matriarchal cultures. For Graves this was something of a Golden Age that fell with the warring gods of Babylon and the Hebrews. The book will influence paganism and the Wiccans following Gerald Gardner’s movement, despite archaeological and anthropological criticisms of its etymological methods and conclusions.

Penfield

While operating on a conscious epileptic person in 1952, neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield (1891-1976) electrically stimulates parts of the brain’s temporal lobes apparently connected to memory: the patient reports vivid relivings of past moments in their life. Penfield finds he can do this at will with other patients as well. Some philosophers and scientists come to regard this is evidence that everything done in life is in fact recorded—yet even the billionfold neural complexity of the brain could not contain an “informational database” so large, what with all the other constant tasks it must perform. Some see this experiment as implying consciousness does not reside in the brain, but that the brain filters down its experiences from a greater field into manageable parallel currents; in other words, Penfield’s electrodes disrupted the smooth functioning of the filtering operation and caused the patient’s conscious ego to “jump” to an earlier spacetime point. Others think it is evidence that the Akashic Records can be scientifically proven to exist (there is just a small difference between the two ideas). Although Penfield’s tests have been replicated, materialist-minded neuroscientists, ever-fearing the taint of a non-computational model of the brain, prefer to call these “hallucinated memories.” Penfield’s studies will be referenced in dozens of New Age books touting the Akashic Field, Huxley’s Mind-at-Large, and the holographic universe model. 

L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) in 1949 publishes Dianetics and in 1953 begins the Church of Scientology to capitalize on and exploit the emptiness caused by Western materialism, the fearful paranoia of the Cold War, and the spiritual vertigo caused by the massive insanity of World War Two. Thousands succumb to cheap electrical skin galvanic meters, quasi-Freudian/Reichian emotion-repression theory, and fork over increasing amounts of scratch to advance up the hierarchy, only to learn they’ve joined some sort of UFO cult. Hail Xenu!

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B.K.S. Iyengar (1918-2014) teaches Hatha yoga in Pune, India in 1934. Amongst his students is J. Krishnamurti. Befriending violinist Yehudi Menuhin in 1952, Iyengar becomes an international guru and popularizes the ancient body-contact practice worldwide. His 1966 Light on Yoga is a bestseller, begetting a second-wave interest in the discpline seven decades after Swami Vivekananda’s American and British tours of 1893-7.

 

Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979) publishes in 1950 Worlds in Collision, detailing his theory of gravitational instability in the solar system and its relation to ancient mythological stories. The scientific establishment attacks him in what only can be called an Inquisition second only to the martyrdom of Wilhelm Reich seven years later. The publisher is forced to retract the book. His predictions on Venus turn out to be true. Comparative mythologist David Talbott (1942-) will vastly advance Velikovsky’s work in the 1990s to the present, drawing upon a new plasma-electrical physics of the universe.

In 1951 psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) collaborates with physicist Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958) to produce Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, a study of how personal meaning is generated from odds-defying events observed in the “outer” world. Two decades and a half later, Arthur Koestler will popularize Jung’s idea with his Roots of Coincidence. Sting of the Police will never be the same. What a pity.

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With the 1951 repeal of the Witchcraft Acts in Britain, Gerald Gardner (1884-1964) formally inaugurates the Wiccan movement. He claims he was initiated into a goddess-worshipping coven by a woman in 1939. He publishes a series of grimoires and instructional books on supposed lost traditions, some borrowed from the Golden Dawn and Leland’s Aradia, this latter published fifty years earlier. His beliefs are aligned with Margaret Murray’s, that an ancient nature and goddess worshipping tradition existed up to the present, hidden by familial and coven successions. A friend of Aleister Crowley, he also lifts much material from Crowley’s OTO and Thelema material for his Book of Shadows, leading many–especially esoterically-informed fundamentalist Christians–to think Wicca is a “gateway” practice to Crowley’s dark visions of the Age of Horus and the overthrow of Christianity. Although critics have a field day dissecting what he invented and what he borrowed, his work is the single most influential in the development of Wicca.
******I must mention here that both Elliott Rose’s and Isaac Bonewits’s virulent critiques of Wicca and Neo-paganism in general are steeped in the obsessive scientistic practice to classify, taxonomize, and operate on the principle that by examining pedigree and progeny one can simply dismiss a social phenomenon as less than legitimate or even bogus. This could in effect apply to any religious system, negating the approaches to a deep spiritual well. The matter is less one of authenticity to a tradition than a spirit of reverence that finds outlet spontaneously in what appears to the practitioner. The practice of ceremonial magick, especially in a group setting, can wrought deep psychological transformations in people, for better or worse (from experience, mostly better).

 

Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) experiments with peyote and writes The Doors of Perception in 1954, a touchstone in psychonautical literature that explores the nature of religious visions.

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The Urantia Book appears in mass print in 1955 after thirty years’ private circulation.

Chinese philosophy scholar and Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) publishes The Phenomena of Man in 1955, an exegesis positing true mental evolution of humanity, coining the term “noosphere,” a concept similar to Plato’s realm of Forms and Sri Aurobindo’s Supermind. The noosphere is akin to a “field” for mental memes, or Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic resonance (1981), but with more emphasis on ideas’ causal efficacy in the human mental realm. They can effect changes in the minds that receive them, and have almost an independent existence in which to evolve. With the noosphere, Chardin anticipates James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis but with a decided anthropocentric spin. Technology—Marshall McLuhan’s “extensions of man”—will make all humans cosmopolitans and eventually, mentally interconnected. Chardin conjectures that there will be an eventual Omega Point to consciousness in which all will fuse into one field that yet preserves the individuality of each of its “moments”—individual minds. This end-scenario also echoes medieval monk Joachim of Flores’s eschatology of the New Age 900 years ago—and for Chardin caused equal trouble as Joachim had with authorities. The Jesuit was in constant trouble with the Vatican over his philosophical musings and his acceptance of evolution; it took The Phenomenon of Man 15 years from completion to get publication permission from the Holy See.

1959: The 14th Dalai Lama and his entourage begin to disseminate Tibetan Tantric ideas to pilgrims in Dharamsala, India, after forced exile from their homeland by the Chinese Communists.

Buddhism was brought to the Himalayan plateau in the eighth century and evolved several different lineages. Tibet’s indigenous Bonpo shamanism involved many nature deities; a continuity with this is the Tibetan Buddhist state authorities’ consulting with the Nechung oracle, who can become possessed by spirits to induce clairvoyance and see the future. The Bonpo deities became incorporated in many cases into symbols of emotional and mental aspects of human psyche, giving Tibetan religion its oft-bewildering variety of beings. Its advanced tantric practices, in some cases believed to be thousands of years old, are meant to acclimatize oneself to and subdue the many “demons and angels” created in ignorance by the personality. This leads one to the possibility of cultivating compassion and eventual release from incarnations by nirvana.
In 1964 seeker Robert Thurman makes his way to Dharamsala to learn directly from the tulkus and the Dalai Lama himself, becoming the first officially ordained non-Himalayan Gelugpa monk. He goes on to academia and becomes professor of religion at Amherst then Columbia University, lecturing to thousands about Tibetan culture and introducing the Dalai Lama to America in the late 1970s and throughout the 80s.

***The Beats: Fascinated by Zen and Buddhism, the novelist Jack Kerouac (1922-1969, bottom) practices meditation and incorporates Buddhist philosophy into his characters’ worldviews. Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997, upper right) also expounds Buddhist and Vedanta ideas in his poetry. Neal Cassady (1926-1968) is a sometime acolyte of the psychic Edgar Cayce. William Burroughs (1914-1997) flirts with both Scientology and Wilhelm Reich’s theories of orgone energy. The widespread popularity of these authors introduce millions to Eastern religion, magick, and “fringe science” ideas. 

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May 1957: R. Gordon Wasson (1896-1986), Vice President of J.P. Morgan bank, ethnomycologist, and no woo-woo kind of guy, writes an article about his experimentation in Mexico with psilocybin mushrooms and shamanic experiences in LIFE magazine, coining the term “magic mushroom.”

maharishi

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918-2008) begins a relentless series of world tours promoting Transcendental Deep Meditation that last from 1958-1968. 40,000 TM teachers are trained around the globe. The Maharishi’s movement attracts celebrities. Inevitable commercialization sets in.

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****The atom bomb and the lunatic children masquerading as world leaders playing chess with them make tens of millions of relatively sane human beings question the very philosophical foundations of our “civilization.” The reigning answer to this predicament, especially for alienated youth, seems to be: anything but this, anywhere but here, anytime but now. Thus:

Thomas Szasz (1920-2012) scathingly criticizes the field of psychiatry as lacking objective, falsifiable criteria that would establish it as a science in The Myth of Mental Illness (1960). He also takes to tack its unspoken purpose—as a form of social control. Using voluminous examples from the Soviet Union, he claims psychiatry and psychology are easily amenable to abuses both political and social—and the same can happen here in America as in the USSR. Along with Columbia University professor C. Wright Mills’s critiques of the “Power Elite”/military-industrial complex and the New School for Social Research’s many thinkers excoriating the technocratic society, views such as Szasz’s grant intellectual imprimatur and inspiration to the many social liberation movements of the 1960s.

 

Ufologist Brinsley la Poer Trench (1911-1995) publishes The Sky People in 1959, the first book to explicitly advance an “ancient astronaut” theory. With Trevor James Constable, he eventually propounds that UFOs are actually living beings with which we share the earth—effectively cutting him out of all polite “nuts-and-bolts ETs” ufological discussion to join a long list of also-rans.

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Jacques Bergier (1912-1978) and Louis Pauwels (1920-1997) write The Morning of the Magicians in 1959. It introduces young French and English-speaking audiences to the ideas of G.I. Gurdjieff, Aleister Crowley, Rosicrucianism, astrology, Freemasonry, alchemy, Forteana, extraterrestrials as cultural gods, the Pyramids, the 1554 Piri Reis map showing subglacial Antarctica, the only-visible-from-the-sky Nazca figures in Peru, and Naziism as an occult-magical political religion (especially Himmler’s SS and Hitler’s “invisible familiar”). It is considered a seminal text of the countercultural 1960s.

***After extensive unsuccessful experimentation as a truth serum, torture agent, or potential assassination tool in the 1950s under project names BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, and MKULTRA, the CIA unwittingly (?) unleashes the psychedelic revolution on American public by making LSD available to universities for volunteer psychological testing in 1960. The LSD experiments under ULTRA are but a single strand in the CIA’s enormous covert search to create unconscious assassins, spontaneous amnesia, “zombies” who will follow any orders, and spies impervious to interrogation and torture. LSD’s unsupervised recreational use surges until it is outlawed in 1966, but continues to blow minds and make people shun clothes for three decades.

 

Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof (1931-) In 1960, Grof pioneers the use of LSD and altered states of consciousness as therapeutic tools to heal patients until the drug is outlawed in 1966. He explores distinctions between the hylotropic and holotropic modes of consciousness; the former is the ordinary, “consensus reality” we daily inhabit, and the latter in which a person feels oneself as part of a greater whole. These differences are found in the Hindu Vedanta teachings—just one example demonstrating the New Age is merely the oldest of wisdom, rediscovered.

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Alan Watts (1915-1973)—Episcopal priest who studied Eastern religions and popularized Zen Buddhism begins lecturing to crowds of young people eager to “get with it.” Through his eloquence, erudition and charm he gains an enormous following and writes many books on spirituality.

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1962: Michael Murphy and Richard Price found the Esalen Institute on the Big Sur California coast to explore human potentialities in a communal setting of inquiry and practice. On its cliffs one day, Don Draper meditates with a group, has a revelation, and decides to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

1962: Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) writes the classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and introduces the concept of “paradigmatic science.” In his theory, the anomalies encountered during the course of normal scientific experiments are ignored until they pile up and can be ignored no longer; perhaps newer technology or a flood of new practitioners into the discipline amplifies their observed occurrence. A young practitioner’s mind, free of the older expert’s long training, notices a pattern within the anomalies invisible to the older practitioner’s eyes, theorizes on it, and makes falsifiable hypotheses. It is then tested without failure. More young practitioners discover the same result. It is not accepted as a viable theory by the old practitioners, but over time the young scientists fill in the new theory’s gaps and accept the theory. The old practitioners die off and the new theory reigns. Is it closer to “truth”? Kuhn says perhaps—but it can always be undermined by a broader theory that unifies it under a new “law” due to a further set of resolved anomalies.

The term “paradigm” is picked up by the business world and used to sell changes in commercial and bureaucratic practice as capitalism goes transnational in the 1980s, then used by various psychologists and parapsychologists, who try to apply the conjectures of quantum physics to consciousness and paranormal abilities in particular. With ecological destruction becoming more evident, the “control” ideologies of technological/industrial society, as paradigms of social functioning, comes under unrelenting assault to this day.

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1962: marine biologist Rachel Carson (1907-1964) writes Silent Spring, the opening salvo of the ecology movement. Although the book focuses on pesticides, and leads to the banning of DDT, it alerts millions to the potential effects of our petro-based chemical way of life on the environment.

Frank Waters (1902-1995) publishes The Book of the Hopi in 1963, outlining the history, ontology, and mythology of the Its timeline for the end of the Fourth (current) World dovetails eerily with the end of the Mayan long-count calendar and also the dates projected for the close of the Kali Yuga (dark age) in Vedic literature.

Shamanism, especially that of the Native American and northern Siberia Irkutsk peoples, becomes an academically popular subject through Mircea Eliade’s book Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasyin 1964. Eliade’s work gives detailed descriptions of culturally universal initiations by these spirit-chosen healers that will eventually be compared to out-of-body and near death experiences, faith healing, crystal healing, holotropic breath work, and so-called alien abductions. Five years later in 1969 Carlos Castaneda will further popularize shamanism with his fictionalized Don Juan Matus series. In 1980 Michael Harner will reintroduce Americans to the practices, especially with the use of drumming and hallucinogens, of spirit travel to the underworld and overworlds.

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With Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (1964), Dame Frances Yates (1899-1981) explores the role of Neo-Platonist philosophy during the Renaissance in the creation of both science and the occult. Philologist Marsilio Ficino’s and Bruno’s translations and printings of Plotinus and Plato spur a new mysticism of mind-nature with micro-macrocosm. Yates follows this with the influential work The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (1972), which posits that the three mysterious Rosicrucian tracts of 1604-1618 may have been the work of a secret society of alchemist-protoscientists begun by John Dee, Francis Bacon, Heinrich Khunrath, and Michael Maier some 30 years earlier in Prague, functioning both as a anti-Catholic “psy-op” and call to esotericists to unite. She speculates that a real Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, whose creation followed in the 1620s, would eventually form the core of Francis Bacon-inspired empiricists who began the Royal Society of London. Thus the scientific method and the oldest scientific fraternity in history explicitly emerge from a non-existent group of mystics whose coming was foretold in the manner of a quasi-science fiction narrative. Can the world get stranger?

Well…look at this:

1963: dissatisfied British Scientologists Robert Moor (1935-) and Mary Ann MacLean (?-2005) leave the Church of Scientology while continuing to explore its techniques of self-analysis. After finding success with an increasing group of core analysands, they collectively travel to Xtul on the Yucatan peninsula to establish a commune. There they are contacted and bonded together by a “higher intelligence” during a group meditation. Moor (now Robert “DeGrimston”) and MacLean found the Process Church of the Final Judgment and prosthelytize in London and America, preaching a psychological development based on individual identification with four archetypes they call Jehovah, Lucifer, Jesus Christ, and Satan. Controversy and kitschy black clothing follows them everywhere.

Dark rumor also follows them everywhere, from involvement in the Manson family killings to the “Son of Sam” shooting spree of 1976-77. All of this, according to journalist Maury Terry, hinted at a nationwide underground network of drug dealing, snuff films, “Satanic” rituals and assassins. Charles Manson, fresh out of jail, was in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury during the 1967 Summer of Love and was couch-surfing just down the block from a Process center and definitely interacted with its members; Processeans also visited him in jail after his arrest in 1969…In 1975, “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz shot to death several German shepherds in his Bronx neighborhood, a breed of dog beloved by Mary Ann MacLean and the Process’ inner circle, before going on his killing spree. By the time Berkowitz killed the dogs, MacLean had dumped DeGrimston, had changed the Church’s name to the Foundation Faith of the Millennium, and had been living in Pound Ridge, Westchester County, New York, 35 miles north of Berkowitz’s neighborhood. Terry suspects Berkowitz interacted with Process/Foundation members via the Carr brothers John and Michael—the two sons of Sam Carr, Berkowitz’s neighbor in Yonkers—who were reputedly members of Satanist cult. At the time, MacLean was attempting to procure German shepherds for their own burgeoning dog shelter (the Foundation Faith would morph into the Best Friends animal shelter in Utah in 1982). As Terry tells it, Berkowitz feigned insanity when arrested to protect himself and his family members from assassination by the cult members—yet left voluminous clues to its existence in his letters, apartment wall scrawlings, and post-arrest rants. What is a “Son of Sam”? Berkowitz first claimed to receive “orders” from a demon-possessed telepathic dog owned by Sam Carr, when in fact Carr’s sons were beyond doubt involved in some sort of cult activity that had roped in Berkowitz just before his dog-killings. According to Terry, the answer was staring the cops in the face once Berkowitz was arrested, that the Carr brothers and the “Satanic” cult they were associated with were a part of the killing spree. Sam Carr’s sons John and Michael both died under suspicious circumstances, John by suicide in 1978 and Michael in a 1979 car accident.

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Science fiction and comic book writer Otto Binder (1911-1974) pens Captain Marvel for Fawcett then works for NASA and becomes fascinated with UFOs. He meets Ted “The PK Man” Owens (pictured), who claims to have inherited powers of clairvoyance and psychokinesis from a UFO encounter in 1965. Owens remains in regular contact with the higher intelligences from space. He meticulously records predictions and prophecies, has people sign affidavits verifying the date he made them, and a good number of them come to pass. Meeting Owens convinces Binder that the human race is already an alien hybrid and we all have slumbering powers that the other race is attempting to activate. This worldview will become standard fare for UFO cultists over the next three decades.

Charles Hapgood’s (1904-1982) catastrophist ideas of magnetic polar reversals, crustal displacement, and an unknown ancient seafaring civilization that mapped the world 12,000 years ago (1958 & 1966) challenge standard history and once again resurrect Atlantis/Mu existence debate–and produce a theatrical disaster in 2012. Albert Einstein writes the preface to Hapgood’s book; the works of Graham Hancock provide additional supporting evidence for the existence of this civilization.

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1965-1970: Kerry Thornley (1938-1998) and Greg Hill (1941-2000) publish the Principia Discordia, a tract praising anarchism, free thought, and worship of Eris, the goddess of Chaos. Here we see the beginning of what will be known as chaos magick. What is taken to be a mock religion will evolve into paranoia as a way of life, inspiring the Reverend Ivan Stang to proclaim Slack in the tracts of the Church of the Subgenius. The Church’s founder J.R. “Bob” Dobbs becomes the ultimate salesman of spiritual snake oil—the kind you can grease your own mental cogs with and run your Yugo.

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In 1965, scholar Robert Thurman (1941-) becomes first Westerner ordained into Gelugpa Buddhism by the Dalai Lama and eventually expounds it as writer and professor of Indo-Tibetan religion at Columbia University. His beloved and awesome daughter Uma will go on to be cheated on by a completely moronic second-tier actor who has no idea what he did.

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After founding the CIA’s polygraph interrogations unit after World War Two, Cleve Backster (1924-2013) discovers in 1966 that plants respond to verbal abuse, violent thoughts, and even remote violent events against life forms. He calls this “Primary Perception” and that all life is in telepathic communication on different wavelengths or timespans (for example, the 2.4 mile wide honey fungus in Oregon, the largest living organism on earth, would communicate on a wider biofrequency than Methuselah, the oldest tree on earth). Although in line with many strains of panpsychism and religions such as Hinduism, the scientific community thoroughly shits on his experiments, finding them unduplicatable and poorly designed. Nevertheless, his conjectures leads to the book The Secret Life of Plants (1973) by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, and a later documentary with a soundtrack by Stevie Wonder.

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1960-1967, Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary (1920-1996) popularizes the Tibetan Book of the Dead along with the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs, especially LSD. Journalist Robert Anton Wilson (1932-2007) boosts Leary’s ideas for the next two decades, especially those in which Leary describes the “eight circuits of psycho-physical existence” (which closely mirror G.I. Gurdjieff’s cosmology).

Ken Kesey's Bus

With Leary’s help, Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, and dozens of other psychonauts participate in a series of “acid tests” at Kesey’s California property in 1964. Their house band is the Grateful Dead, known then as the Warlocks. They go on a cross-country trip spreading LSD and accompanied by “New Journalism” writer Tom Wolfe, a chronicler of subcultures, who publishes The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in 1965.

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1965, psychiatrist Helen Schucman (1909-1981) receives an inner voice dictating to her. With her colleague William Thetford they transcribe A Course in Miracles, first published in 1976.

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Chogyam Trungpa (1939-1987)—practitioner of “crazy wisdom”, his own Zen-influenced offshoot of Tibetan Buddhism, writes the first popular books on his spirituality. A scamp in the manner of Bodhidharma, the sage who brought Buddhism to China, Trungpa drinks and womanizes himself to death.

 

****The musical Hair popularizes the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, the passing of the scepter from Pisces to the water-bearer. Beads mimic rosaries, drugs the communion host. H.D. Thoreau becomes the patron saint of the hippies. Tens of thousands of mostly young people reject technological society to start farming communes. Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog embodies the do-it-yourself ethos, from food to housing.

Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson (1918-2007) spends 40 years doing field research and collating evidence of reincarnation in children aged 3-8. He has strict criteria for doing a full investigation. Each child recollected names of previous family members, their occupations, major events that befell them, the layout of their houses, how they died–and in some cases, found objects hidden by the deceased that not even the previous families knew about. Many children had birthmarks or birth defects such as a deformed limb that corresponded to injury or the cause of death in the previous life. A majority of the cases investigated occurred in India–which is natural, considering the deep and ancient belief in karmic reincarnation there. His Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966) is a classic study of the phenomena. He also founds the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies, one of the only academy-based paranormal study centers on America.

Adamsferaferia

Inspired by Robert Graves’s novel Watch the North Wind Rise (1949) and The Recovery of Culture by Henry Bailey Stevens, Frederick Adams (1928-2008, pictured, top) starts the visionary utopian community Feraferia (“wilderness festival” in Latin, an ancient forgotten tradition) through his writings and artwork. It is all devoted to reclaiming the Kore (maiden-goddess) as supreme presence inherent in all nature. Deeply ecological and anti-industrial age in nature, Feraferia attracts only a few hundred hardcore converts over its existence, who believe in reclaiming nature. Adams writes many tracts and rituals for his uniquely artistic spin on the Goddess.

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1961: college students Tim Zell and Lance Christie bond over the rabidly individualistic philosophy of Ayn Rand, then Abraham Maslow’s concepts of a “hierarchy of needs” and the goal of “self-actualization.” Rebelling against the conformist society they perceive around them, they begin to find like-minded young guys and establish Atl, a “brotherhood of the water.” Along with thousands of other alienated young people, they then read Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and imagine a utopian community of highly intelligent rebels who will preserve freedom against a tyrannical technocracy. The Church of All Worlds, based on Heinlein’s protagonist’s organization, is born in 1968. Their publication the Green Egg becomes the first newsletter for alternative “Pagans,” a term appropriated from Kerry Thornley’s Erisian and Discordian movements to describe total rejection of technocracy. Encountering the burgeoning ecology scene, Zell embraces its cause as central to the CAW. They find fellow spirits in Fred Adams’s Feraferia collective and abandon the Atl group’s principles. The earth is a single living being that Zell calls Gaea, and views humans as an out of control virus whose job as stewards has been subverted. The concept parallels James Lovelock’s, and throughout the 1970s will gain currency.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-2004) studies terminal illness’s effects on the psyche. Her 1969 book On Death and Dying outlines the five stages of grief. Over the next decade she investigates out of body experiences, near-death experiences, and channeling.

In 1969, Erich Von Daniken (1935-) publishes Chariots of the Gods? which claims to be the first “ancient astronaut” theory book—only if you discount classical Vedic literature, Sumerian mythology, the Book of Enoch, the book of Genesis, Dogon cosmology, Hopi cosmology, George Hunt Williamson’s The Secret Places of the Lion (1958), Pauwels and Bergier’s eponymous Morning of the Magicians (1959), and The Sky People (1959) by Brinsley le Poer Trench. Von Daniken is the patron saint of the ancient astronaut crowd, and over the next five decades his conjecture spawns hundreds of books denigrating the human genius of ancient peoples and results in an exasperatingly reductive History Channel show.

Anthropologist Carlos Castañeda (1925-1998) publishes The Teachings of Don Juan as his dissertation in 1968, popularizing shamanism. It is discovered he made up many parts of the narrative.

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*****Hollywood in late 1960s and early 70s belches forth a slew of occult-themed big budget films following the success of Rosemary’s Baby (1968). The 1969 Manson Family murders induce a moral panic towards drugs and mind control and “Satanism.” The Exorcist is nominated for best picture at the Oscars in 1973. Friedkin’s film takes the existence of the demon Pazuzu and evil seriously, and occult menace films become even more popular. Unease over the sexual, mental, and spiritual freedoms unleashed by the hippie movement, feminism, student rebellions, finds outlet in ancient abstractions projected onto our screens.

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1968, the Beatles go to Bangor, Wales to attend seminars with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Transcendental Meditation, popularizing the TM movement. After witnessing the Yogi incessantly hitting on female devotees, John Lennon leaves in disgust and pens “Sexy Sadie”, whose original lyrics run: “Maharishi, you stupid cunt! You made a fool of everyone!”

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At age 24, Colin Wilson (1931-2013) published The Outsider in 1956. It brings instant acclaim and success. He follows up this study of existential and social alienation with books in the same vein, then writes The Occult in 1970. A survey of the paranormal from Hermes Trismegistus to Aleister Crowley and Gurdjieff, Wilson searches for humanity’s engagement with what he calls Faculty X, the numinous state of connection with a greater reality.

Led Zeppelin’s guitarist Jimmy Page (1944-) shows his deep and continuing interest in the occult by purchasing Aleister Crowley’s Boleskine House on Loch Ness, Scotland in 1970 and opens an magick-themed bookstore, The Equinox, in London. Page’s band’s use of runes on the cover of their fourth untitled album and the themes of Celtic and Scandinavian mysticism in their lyrics inspire a generation of teens to seek out the meaning of the symbols–and thus acquaintance with Aleister Crowley and esoteric ideas. On the other hand, Black Sabbath’s 1969 debut album and subsequent career combine kitschy horror film gestures and existential dread in equal measures, a combo entirely lost upon teen stoners seeking to freak out peer and parents alike.

Unhappy childhoods of unremitting abuse are known to produce dissociative personalities. Dissociative personalities in turn are known to be prone to what Frederic Myers called “subliminal uprushes” in which alter personalities and even “spirits” can induce clairvoyance in them. American writer Dorothy Jane Roberts (1929-1984) had such an unfortunate childhood—with the concurrent superhuman abilities Myers sought in full force. After experiencing a trance state in which she underwent a bout of automatic writing, in 1963 she began using a Ouija board and found herself communicating the words of a spirit named Seth. The board was abandoned when Seth began to speak directly to her. The channel lasts from 1963 to the time of her death. With The Seth Material Roberts would become the most famous medium in the world and popularized the sentiment that “we create our own reality” which will become a New Age truism. Her books, along with A Course in Miracles, are the canonical texts of New Age thought.

Physicist Hal Puthoff (1936-) and Laser pioneer Russell Targ (1934-) meet psychic Ingo Swann (1933-2013, pictured, left), who demonstrates extraordinary ability to “remotely view” objects and people and even events in the past. Swann teaches them his technique. Targ and Puthoff, diehard scientists, test Swann and discover his abilities far exceed statistical randomness. In 1972 they obtain contracts with the Defense Department and CIA to develop a cadre of psychics at the Stanford Research Institute to remote view targets in Russia and China, which continues for 23 years.

1972: Uber-Conservative Gary Allen (1936-1986) publishes None Dare call it Conspiracy, the first indictment of “Eastern establishment” Ivy League technocrats as secret communist plotters bent on enslaving the world through the policies of the Council on Foreign Relation and the new Trilateral Commission. He fingers the Rockefeller family as the main drivers of the plot. No occult angle is apparent—yet. This will come later. And, of course, the Reptilians behind it.

1972: Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) publishes The Roots of Coincidence, which popularizes Jung/Pauli’s concept of synchronicity twenty years after the duo’s work was published.

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1972: Funded by Laurence Rockefeller, channeler David Spangler (1945-) and writer William Irwin Thompson (1938-) start the Lindesfarne Association, a loose think-tank of sorts that attracts many intellectuals over the next 40 years. Dedicated to the creation of a world culture, the ideas of Swiss philosopher Jean Gebser (1905-1973) figure prominently in their discourse. Promoted is a neo-Hegelian metanarrative that posits our imminent transition into an “aperspectival” age in which consciousness includes all moments of history. The ideas of Gebser and Sri Aurobindo will both heavily influence the integral philosophy of thinker Ken Wilber in the 1980s and 1990s.

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Inventor, polymath, and Lindisfarne associate fellows James Lovelock (1919-) and biologist Lynn Margulis (1938-2011) propose the Gaia hypothesis, reviving metaphorically the ancient idea of a world-soul by way of the biological symbiosis of all life and the homeostasis by which our 12,000 years of stable climate provides. Throughout the 1970s and 80s Lovelock and Margulis sponsor Gaia conferences focusing on ecological concerns, especially noting that a change in one part of this ecosystem eventually affects every other part; mankind’s overwhelming resource-taking actions on the planet are disastrous from this standpoint—a situation from which we may not even be able to extricate ourselves. He is one of the first to sound the alarm on human-caused global warming forcing by way of increased CO2, and predicts 80% of humanity will be extinct by 2100.

 

Arthur Janov (1924-) theorizes and publishes work maintaining that the repressed traumas of childhood and resultant anger (which traditional psychotherapy claim causes “complexes” and neuroses) cannot be fully and adequately addressed by the rational discourse of the therapeutic setting. Instead, he prescribes Primal Therapy—the expression of those buried, blocked energies through screaming. Due to a poverty of clinical evidence showing results, it is a short-lived but notorious footnote in the history of therapy.

1973: The American-made wheels start to come off. Watergate, the oil embargo, the Yom Kippur war, the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, increasing airplane hijackings and terrorists attacks worldwide, all stress the population. In the fall, a UFO sighting wave of spectacular proportions occurs worldwide, with entity sightings and “abductions” occurring. The first canonical abduction tales involving extraction from a domicile, examination, and genetic procedures occur.

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Trevor Ravenscroft (1921-1989) publishes The Spear of Destiny in 1973, which claims that the lance of Roman soldier Longinus that pierced the side of Jesus on the cross was sought and found by Adolf Hitler’s SS, offering the Third Reich supernatural evil power—like they needed it. At war’s end it was lost and passed into the hands of George S. Patton, who died in a car accident after the war (ostensibly also losing the cursed object). Indiana Jones was nowhere to be found—though George Lucas apparently paid Ravenscroft tribute by naming Jones’s mentor Abner Ravenwood in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”

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Physicist and parapsychologist Andrija Puharich (1918-1995) claims 23 year-old Israeli Uri Geller (1946-, pictured) possesses prodigious psychic abilities including, most notoriously, psychokinesis in which he bends metal objects (mostly spoons) by running his fingers across them and sometimes by merely staring at them. Puharich’s bio of Geller reveals the young man believes he is in contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence aboard an orbiting ship and they have granted him his powers. Further impossible feats such as teleportation, apportation, remote viewing supposedly follow as Geller is tested. Stage magician the Amazing Randi challenges then debunks Geller’s spoon bending and mind reading on The Tonight Show before a bewildered ex-magician Johnny Carson, knocking the Israeli down several notches. Many still believe in his powers however, it being the downer 1970s and all when meaning was sorely needed in the growing American spiritual vacuum.

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In February and March of 1974, prolific science fiction author Philip Kindred Dick (1928-1982) has a series of mental breakdowns/revelations that lead him to pen an 8,000 page “Exegesis” about a higher intelligence that controls human consciousness—the VALIS—and produces the ideas of his later novels. Exegesis is finally published, in greatly abbreviated form, in 2011. This period of “high strangeness” 1973-1974 also afflicts author Robert Anton Wilson (more below), who experiments with psychedelics during this time and receives telepathic information about the star Sirius’s connection to ancient Egypt, extraterrestrials, and Israeli psychic Uri Geller’s abilities.

Robert Pirsig (1928-) publishes his philosophical novel Zen & Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in 1974, a worldwide bestseller. An “Inquiry into Values,” it contrasts a “Metaphysics of Quality” counterposed against the scientific, quantitative paradigm reigning in America (as cultural critic and Traditionalist Rene Guenon pointed out five decades previously). Pirsig come to believe a blending of rationality and moment-by-moment mindfulness can co-exist in the Western mind.

***1975: The youth culture’s intercourse with Eastern and ancient ideas over the past 15 years, whether flirtatious or serious, causes severe irritation in conservative American critics who do not seem to notice the soulless vacuum that the very American mainstream consumer culture they defend has become. Ironically, these searchers do not signify to them the very “freedom” they seem constitutionally allergic to actually exercising.

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1975: Robert Anton Wilson (1932-2007, above) and Robert Shea (1933-1994) publish the satirical Illuminatus! Trilogy, a mélange of occultism, fringe science, multiple conspiracies, Discordianism, and anarchist politics. It is the first melding of political conspiracy with the occult ideas of Freemasonry as the driving force in this idiotic world (ideas long ago hinted at, in more beneficent form, by Blavatsky and Bailey’s “Himalayan Masters” and more recently by Pauwel and Bergier in The Morning of the Magicians). Wilson will go on to write many books on a wide variety of paranormal, scientific, and conspiratorial subjects, remaining an open-minded skeptic—a “zeteticist”—in the tradition of Charles Fort. Wilson’s books are very popular in the counterculture.

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Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), agnostic/atheist philosopher founds the Committee for the Scientific Investigation for Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) in 1976. A few actual scientists (B.F. Skinner, Marcello Truzzi, Carl Sagan, and Ray Hyman) join. Seven years earlier, Kurtz founded Prometheus Books to promote secular humanism and fight what he perceives as anti-rationalism of the occult explosion.

His baby CSICOP makes exactly two scientific investigations—the first into astrology, which statistically fails to disprove the claim that a high number of extraordinary athletes are born while Mars was rising or transiting the sun. The scandalous findings are covered up, then when the cover up is exposed causes the resignation of a few genuine scientists in the org, including the expulsion of CSICOP member astronomer Dennis Rawlins for hammering Kurtz and the others and eventually writing an article about the affair. This teaches CSICOP that they shouldn’t actually attempt science, because they might get their asses handed to them. The second “experiment” is informally connected to CSICOP but involves replicating biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s experiments showing that dogs can sense when their owners are on their way home and wait in anticipation. Again, the attempted debunking fails due to shoddy sample size and ignoring the recorded evidence that, in fact, the dog reacted in just the way Sheldrake had predicted.

There are many “fellows” inducted into CSICOP membership who are in fact scientists but very rarely speak out on the paranormal matters. CSICOP changes its name to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry in 2006, and continues to fail scientifically to disprove anything psi-related but still has millions of adherents whose pseudo-skeptical ideologies and Westboro Church-like commitment to debunking annoys equal millions.

Hebrew and Sumerian reader Zechariah Sitchin (1920-2010) publishes The 12th Planet in 1976, expanding and clarifying Von Daniken’s ancient astronaut theory by way of the Sumerian mythology of the Annunaki (the mysterious Nephilim in the Book of Genesis). According to Sitchin, the erratically inclined planet Nibiru, which enters our inner solar system every 36 centuries, collided with a planet between Mars and Jupiter and the debris created earth. During a close pass, the Annunaki race from Nibiru came to earth seeking minerals, enslaved homo erectus for mining purposes then genetically altered them into Homo sapiens. Sitchin published his spin on the Sumerian creation myth through 13 more books and influenced the belief system of former race car driver Claude Vorilhon’s Raelian “alien-masters” movement (catch the v-ril in his name?) whose symbol cheekily combines a swastika and the Star of David. Sitchin’s beliefs will influence a generation of both New Age star-seed and Satanic-influence-obsessed fundamentalist Christians, the latter seeing ancient Annunaki “demonic” imagery in every Super Bowl halftime show, Olympics opening, and Hollywood’s “subliminally subversive” movies.

Using a mélange of Alfred Korzybski’s linguistic theory, Noam Chomsky’s transformational grammar, and shamanistic trance-inducing techniques, Richard Bandler (1950-) and John Grinder (1940-) develop a cognitive form of therapy named Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) that claims to be able to model and transform a subject’s conception of self and the world to achieve more effectiveness in their life. Conspiriologists will eventually see in NLP the ultimate New World Order brainwashing tool, a ubiquitous technique that will, for instance, catapult Barack Obama to the White House, convince you to buy gold, or be the lurking monster behind rap and hip-hop’s popularity.

Eduard “Billy” Meier (1937-) restlessly travels the world, dogged by an alien presence that seems to be tutoring him. Flying saucers appear, disgorging Nordic-looking “Plejaren” from 80 light years beyond the Pleiades. Meier photographs, films, and records audio of these craft. Debunkers have a field day easily dissecting this “evidence.” Still he generates and continues to have a devoted following of acolytes, and still dispenses messages from the Plejaren today.

Also this year of 1975, Fritjof Capra (1939-) publishes The Tao of Physics, an exploration that equates some of the conclusions of particle physicists with both Eastern thought and ancient ideas of the soul. Niels Bohr, it is learned, was a Vedantist, and Werner Heisenberg a mystic. Pauli and Jung’s synchronicity and the double-slit particle-wave experiment are taken as examples that the concepts inside/outside, here/there are simply nominalist fictions. It is a bestseller, as is Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters four years later, which explores the same basic science-mysticism equivalences. The concepts are associated together in the minds of millions of people to this day—thanks largely to Oprah Winfrey’s 1980s talk show, where Zukav was a regular guest.

Wayne Dyer (1940-2015) writes Your Erroneous Zones in 1975 and in 1976 becomes a bestseller. Its philosophy is seen as an antidote to the irrationally critical inner voices the Puritan ethos has instilled, for better or worse, in Americans, a message the so-called Me Generation (into which the hippies had morphed) accepts gleefully. Clearly in line with works such as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) and Norman Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking (1952).

Terrence McKenna (1946-2000) and brother Dennis (1950-) engage in psychonautical voyages using every kind of hallucinogen and in 1975 write The Invisible Landscape, which contains a theory of recursive, fractal space-time as a critique of Western ideas of measurement. Terence’s ideas of time spiraling to an ever-repeating singularity around the year 2012 almost single-handedly revives interest in the Mayan long count calendar’s end. In The Archaic Revival (1992) and Food of the Gods (1992) he becomes an eloquent and ubiquitous advocate of exploring the alternate realities presented by ayahuasca and pure DMT experimentation. He believes the ingestion of magic mushrooms by early man created new neural “circuitry” and led to the imaginative thinking processes. Ayahuasca tourism, in which Americans and Europeans travel to South America to undergo ritual ingestion of the brew, becomes a big business by the second decade of the 21st century. Beware the DMT machine elves—but more so shady “packaged shaman” snake oil tourism industry.

1975: Dr. Raymond Moody (1944-) publishes Life After Life, an enormously popular bestseller about his researches into the Near Death Experience. These experiences are as old as humanity (an early example being Plato’s account of the solider Er awakening on his funeral pyre to tell of the world of light beyond death). Over the coming decades, advances in trauma medicine will pull many thousands of people from the brink of death who otherwise would have died—1 in 3 of them telling stories of meeting light-beings, dead relatives, angels, Jesus, and even extraterrestrials in their NDEs.

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The notion that “star seeds,” or half-extraterrestrial people, exist to help humanity due to their voluntary birth on earth or as “walk-in” souls can be traced to Brad Steiger’s 1976 book Gods of Aquarius, but the idea has much deeper roots, going back through Madame Blavatsky’s Hidden Mahatmas on through the wisdom imparted by Allan Kardec’s spirits in The Spirits Book (1857) and, of course, is an ancient Hindu belief. The only difference here is the alien or “cosmic citizen” aspect, in distinction to the nature-spirit (deva or devi) or “old soul” who has made the rounds many times reincarnating in human form.

1976: Helen Schucman and William Thetford’s A Course in Miracles is published. A “channeled” work, it becomes an instant classic and perhaps, along with The Seth Material, the reigning text of the contemporary “New Age movement,” with its gently corrective theology involving the importance of forgiveness and grace. Within a decade there will be hundreds of study groups and seminars on the book. Writer Marianne Williamson will become the book’s main popular proponent, discussing its spirituality many times on The Oprah Winfrey Show.

 

1976: Robert Temple (1945-) publishes The Sirius Mystery. It tells of the Dogon nation of Mali, who claim extraterrestrials from the star Sirius birthed them thousands of years ago. Their ancient dances, artwork, and tales are all found to contain knowledge about Sirius and other heavenly bodies that is only discovered in the 20th century—such as the fact that Sirius has an “invisible companion”, which turned out to be the dwarf star Sirius B which orbits the main star. These facts, which any reasonable person would conclude go well beyond coincidence, are the best genuine evidence for an “ancient astronauts” theory.

Mycologist Gordon Wasson (who popularized the term “magic mushroom” in a 1957 LIFE magazine article), Albert Hofman (1906-2008, the discoverer of LSD), and classical scholar Carl Ruck (1935-) research the ancient and perplexing Eleusinian mysteries of Greece. Although the meaning of the pilgrimage has always been clear–the celebration of Persephone’s return from Hades to visit her mother Demeter and inaugurate spring—no records of the spiritual experiences undergone in the ritual’s Telestrion temple exist, except the itinerary and the recipes of the brew which the pilgrims drank prior to entry. Studying the local flora, the trio reach the conclusion that a form of ergot, a barley fungus rich in a variant of LSD, was deliberately used by the hierophants who presided over the ceremonies for two thousand years in Eleusis. The participants thus experienced an intense entheogenic trip in the pillared, cave-like Telestrion hall, probably augmented by a theatrical display by the hierophants. In short, a formalized shamanic initiation for the Greek masses. Their Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries ignites controversy when published in 1978.

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1979: Wiccan priestess and NPR host Margot Adler (1946-2014) publishes Drawing Down the Moon, a survey of Neopaganism and Wiccans in America. It is the first contemporary book to offer an even and sympathetic look at revived ancient and “alternative” religions in a country where evangelical Christian fervor is once again heating up (see Hal Lindsay below). Adler, a long-time friend of writer Whitley Strieber, also incidentally happens to be present at the author’s upstate New York cabin on a night his “visitors” make an appearance in 1987.

The evangelical Christian surge of the 1970s brings along with it interest in angels & faith healing & apocalyptic end times scenarios via Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey (1929-). This will confluence with other eschatologies, such as the Mayan, Theosophist, Hopi, Buddhist-Shambhalan, and other belief systems that peg the last decades of 20th/early decades of the 21st century as the dawn of a New Age, social and religious upheavals, and rise of an Antichrist.

 

The 4th century Nag Hammadi Gnostic texts, discovered in 1945, are first published in English in 1979, spurring prodigious scholarship and inspiring interest in the medieval Cathar and Bogomil religions, whose spiritual views are very similar to one another—and considered heretical to all mainstream brands of Christianity. This find will have incalculable effects on both religious and secular culture. Until this discovery, the Gnostics were only known through the Early Christian apologists, who relentlessly attacked their heresies and doctrinal mistakes. Gnosticism was never a monolithic belief system; in fact was just the opposite. Simon Magus was perhaps the most famous Gnostic and known in the New Testament apocrypha as St. Peter’s adversary in a theurgical battle in which Paul kicked his ass, earning “simony” a coinage that means the buying of pardons from sin, which the Magus was dispensing by means of his magic. But the many Gnostic sects’ deep origins go back to strands found in Zoroastrianism, Plato, and the religion of the Egyptians. Foremost amongst their beliefs is that the universe is a botched creation of a hubristic lesser architect-deity (most times, Jehovah). The misguided Aeon Sophia, however, caused “sparks” of the true universe (the Pleroma, “splendorous fullness”) to become entombed in matter. This remnant of true creation resides in every human, and Jesus Christ was an emanation of the Pleroma sent to present the elements of ascent back to the true God. This repressed philosophical spirituality presented a powerful alternative and antidote to mainstream Christianity (women were always equals in the Gnostic clerisies, and knowledge “gnosis” and living a strict moral life valued over faith and hierarchical fripperies). Thousands of books have now been written about the Gnostic schools, Gnostic churches established, and its ideas still live in works such as Philip K. Dick’s later writings and “The Matrix” trilogy.

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In 1979, ufologist Jacques Vallee publishes Messengers of Deception, a study of UFO contactees and cults. Among them are an ascetic organization called Human Individual Metamorphosis (HIM) which is led by a man and woman known variously as Bo and Peep, Do and Ti, or the Two (pictured, right). Vallee is alarmed at the credulity of its followers, failed prophecies of UFO landings with no loss of face, and the apocalyptic tone of its messages, which include an extraterrestrial Rapture. With journalist John Keel’s warnings against “saucer cults” four years earlier in his Operation Trojan Horse (1975), Vallee is deeply concerned over the mind control aspects of the entire UFO phenomena. His worst imaginings are exceeded. The cult changes its name to Heaven’s Gate and its core 39 members commit suicide on March 26, 1997, after hearing a rumor via radio host Art Bell that a “spaceship” of some kind may be following the Hale-Bopp comet. They believed it was their mothership coming to take them home.

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1980: Michael Harner (1929-) publishes The Way of the Shaman, reinvigorating interest in archaic journeying to contemporary people. Through his workshops, thousands learn techniques of trance through drumming and experience non-human intelligences that act as spirit guides.

1981: plasma physicist David Bohm (1917-1992) publishes Wholeness and the Implicate Order, an inquiry into the existence of a field he calls the “holomovement” which would account for quantum particle entanglement. When combined with Karl Pribram’s conception that phenomenal reality consisting of waveforms that some part of our brains “decode” using Fourier transforms, the concept that the universe may be a hologram, emanating from “another dimension,” become viable.

Cambridge biology professor Rupert Sheldrake (1942-) ignites controversy with his books A New Science of Life (1981) and The Presence of the Past (1988), postulating that natural laws are constant due to what he calls a “morphic field”, a “scientized” version of the Akashic record. All laws of biological life and behavior are the result of repeated imprintings/repetitions of form within this field (which he calls “morphic resonance”). He spends the next 35 years defending and honing his theory against accusations of pseudoscience due to the theory’s unfalsifiability. Yet he gamely develops experiments to test the theory.

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1981: Painter and alien abduction investigator Budd Hopkins (1929-2011) publishes Missing Time. This will be followed six years later with Intruders. UFO history scholar David Jacobs chimes in with Secret Life and begins hypnotic-regressing “abductees,” like Hopkins, without training nor a license and revealing dozens of near-identical, tediously repetitive stories involving light beams, levitation, induced pregnancies, alien-hybrid births, sexual abuse, weird psychodramas, and Men In Black visitations. Dozens then hundreds of therapists worldwide begin investigating missing time episodes, strange, realistic dreams, and UFO experiences in their patients using hypnotic regression and coming up with the same basic stories.

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On May 14, 1982, Theosophist and George Adamski UFO cultist Benjamin Creme (1922-) holds a press conference announcing to the world that Maitreya, the world redeemer who will simultaneously fulfill the roles of Imam Mahdi, the Jewish Messiah, and the Kalki Avatar of Hinduism, is alive and well and living in a London flat after having descended from his Himalayan retreat. Creme knows this because he has been in telepathic contact with the Himalayan Masters Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey first expounded on. The Second Coming will occur on June 21st of that year. In the time-honored tradition of spiritual prophecy tricksterism, as ufologist John Keel always successfully predicted, nothing happens. Crème makes the same prediction several more times. Creme founded Share International Foundation as a non-profit to spread the message via Transmission Meditation and a monthly magazine.

Parapsychologist and psychic Nancy Ann Tappe claims throughout the 1970s to be able to read the colors of peoples’ auras—furthermore, that she has since the late 1960s observed special children with an indigo birth-aura. Tappe publishes the book Understanding Your Life Through Color in 1982 describing the concept. The idea is later popularized by the 1998 book The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived, written by husband and wife lecturers Lee Carroll and Jan Tober. Countless conferences and mythologizing of these kids begins. Several films have also been produced on the subject, including two English feature films by New Age writer James Twyman in 2003 and 2005. ***The almost epidemic emergence of 1) ADHD 2) “restless child syndrome” and 3) autism spectrum disorders concurrent with the appearance of this metaphysical aura-color theory (1995-present) allows many parents to find a positive meaning in their children’s “disease”—accompanied by the fact that the world expert on ADHD, Dr. Leon Eisenberg, admitted in a Der Spiegel interview in 2009 that the diagnosis is so overapplied as to be meaningless, the American Psychological Association’s classification systems have alarmingly broadened in the past decades to pathologize what once passed for normal child behavior. No-one scientifically ventures to seriously investigate the possibility that the tsunami of new electromagnetic fields (cell phones, PCs), genetically-altered, nutrition-free food, and toxic chemicals parallel these “epidemics’” emergence.

Actress Shirley Maclaine (1934-) publishes Out on a Limb in 1983, freely discussing her experiences with reincarnation and metaphysics. She is roundly made the butt of jokes to the present day for her claims and candor.

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By July 1984, a full-blown “Satanic panic” sets in in California, especially against the workers at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles, where 360 children are suspected of being sexually abused. No physical evidence of any kind is apparent—but the authorities believe the children’s tales of witchcraft, ritual sex abuse and even human sacrifices. People blame the deteriorating morals of a society that has become far more sexually permissive since the 1950s. Experts come forward by the dozen testifying to the power of hypnosis to unlock memories—only to be countered by the “False Memory Syndrome” advocates, who seek to prove memories can be confabulated with or without hypnosis by the very act of interrogation. Over the 1980s and into the early 1990s many hundreds of people go to jail for child abuse on no more than hearsay and rumor, having their lives forever ruined. The trials against Peggy McMartin Buckey and her grandson Raymond Buckey (pictured) last seven years, end in complete acquittals, and cost taxpayers $15 million–the most expensive legal case in US history. Only in California!

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1984: Right-leaning radio host Art Bell (1945-) sickens of politics and decides to begin a free-form show where people can call in with ghost stories, UFO sightings, and general spookery. It becomes a success and within a decade goes nationwide as Coast to Coast AM, the most popular overnight radio show in America. Bell hosts exorcists, UFO abductees, Bigfoot researchers, conspiracy theorists, ghost hunters, fringe scientists, etc., giving a platform for channelers and mediums.

*****By the early 1980s the American people have been enervated by the various social malaises of the 1970s. Faith in institutions has steadily eroded—religion, political engagement, civic organizations, bureaucratic ennui. The Baby Boomers who once protested the foundations of the West have mostly joined the mainstream—professionally at least—but still harbor unsettled spiritual compasses. They remain seekers. Psychic fairs, group retreats, human potential movements like est and Scientology promise self-improvement with a decidedly secular bent. But the deeply instilled consumerist mentality is still at work, insisting that the true nirvana perhaps exists in the next system, the next movement, the next group consciousness raising.
Feminism has thoroughly altered the thinking and behavior of both sexes–and invigorated a goddess movement to challenge the patriarchal culture that has prevailed for at least 6,000 years. The traditionally marginalized and feared practice of witchcraft surges in popularity, thanks in part to Gerald Gardner’s Wicca movement. Alongside this are revived interest in Celtic and Scandinavian mythologies as alternate possibilities for religious revelation.
Fired by the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, the gay liberation movement, and radical feminism, conservative Christians rally around these social issues and become politically active, aligning themselves with Nixon’s Republican Silent Majority. This fundamentalist stance of course includes opposition to anything not Christian–such as esoteric metaphysical philosophies, from alchemy to Sufism, ouija boards to tarot divination. The New Age comes under steady attack.

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1987-Novelist Whitley Strieber (1945-) publishes Communion, his personal account of interactions with paranormal beings he calls “Visitors.” He never once claims they are extraterrestrials. It hits number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Published just before Budd Hopkins’s Intruders, which also charts on the Times’s bestsellers, Communion and the former inaugurate a new era in what the public believes UFO activity encompasses: multiple abductions, genetic medical procedures, holographic representations of global cataclysm, telepathic communication. Strieber writes three further books detailing his continuing strange encounters and struggles with memory-bubbles of his troubled childhood.

Harmonic Convergence

After helping organize the first Earth Day in 1970, art professor Jose Arguelles (1939-2011) goes on to teach Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere theories and that humanity is approaching an ascension from its linear 3-D existence. To this end he organizes the world Harmonic Convergence on August 16-17, 1987, a mass meditation event that involved several hundred thousand persons. The event was timed to coincide with the end of the Mayan “hell cycle” which began with Cortes’s landfall in 1519. A grand trine of eight planets synchronized on this date, forming an equilateral triangle when seen from earth. This particular grand trine (it is quite common as an astronomical event) also began the 25-year countdown to the end of the Mayan long count calendar, fueling speculation that some supernatural event would occur on December 21, 2012.

1987: Joel Whitton pens Life Between Life, an exploration of the reincarnation process using hypnosis in which “life reviews” by a “council” are prevalent in the accounts. These experiences fit neatly into the channeled visions of alien contactees and abductees, who also have come into contact with “Nordic”-appearing elder beings for the past thirty years (especially George Adamski).

“Saucer nests” have been reported in conjunction with UAP sightings since the beginning of the postwar phenomenon. Most people think they are possible evidence of extraterrestrial vehicles but swirled circles in grass and grain fields have been reported for centuries; they were thought to be the product of whirlwinds or witchcraft or fairies (the latter because swaying and darting lights were often reported in the fields where they later appeared, as far back as the fifteenth century). In the late 1980s the circles began to show up in profusion in England near ancient megaliths like Stonehenge. By the early 1990s they were almost epidemic on the island—and two men came forward claiming they had created the circles at night using no more than string, a pole, and boards attached to their boots. Many others undoubtedly formed circle-making clubs to hoax the public. But cereologists (crop circle experts) claim to tell the difference between the hoaxed and the genuine: footprints, signs of broken stalks, etc. figure in the former and uniform flattening with no breakage and even cellular alteration in the latter. The increase of absurdly complex and huge crop patterns that APPEAR OVERNIGHT in the late 90s-present would seem to counter the “all hoaxes” answer. Many New Agers see them as messages from ET or the earth trying to communicate through sigils, a coded language to a coming “earth ascension.” Witnesses on the sites claim to experience trances and altered states of consciousness. Conventional explanations range from total hoaxing to geomagnetic disturbances to secret satellite technology to as-yet unknown atmospheric phenomenon.

Psychology professor and “near-death experience/out-of-body” researcher Kenneth Ring (1936-) reads Strieber’s Communion and discerns parallels between the “afterlife” of Near Death Experiences and “alien abductions.” He conducts surveys of both groups, discovering overlap in both personality-type and experiences: He publishes The Omega Project in 1991, suggesting that these interactions are neither fully physical nor mental but occur as liminal states of the “mind-at-Large,” a concept very similar to the Sufi imaginal realm, Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic field, Sri Aurobindo’s Supermind, and Chardin’s noosphere.

Journalist Graham Hancock (1950-) publishes The Sign and the Seal (1992) and Fingerprints of the Gods (1995). The latter work draws on Charles Hapgood’s theory of crustal displacement, the mysterious 1513 Piri Reis map that shows the landmass beneath subglacial Antarctica, von Dechend and Santillana’s Hamlet’s Mill, and the work of dissident geologist Robert Schoch and archaeologist John Anthony West. It provides much evidence for the compelling conjecture that an advanced marine civilization existed prior to the last ice age and survived until about 11,000 BCE.

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Dr. Rick Strassman (1952-) is granted government license to inject prescreened subjects with pure DMT, one of the most potent entheogenic substances known. It causes relatively short (20-30 minute) but intensely involving trips in which the volunteers’ consciousness enters a different but coherent “reality” that turns out to have consistent elements, some of which are comparable to Near Death Experiences and alien abductions. In 1990 he publishes DMT: The Spirit Molecule, which ignites interest in the medically therapeutic use of so-called psychedelic drugs, a trend that continues to the present. Thousands of psychonauts take DMT both in pure doses and in its augmented form, the Amazonian brew ayahuasca, which produces 4-9 hour trips. Many of them are countercultural authors who write books on the archaic revival (as Terence McKenna calls it), the rediscovery of “shamanic otherworlds” by citizens of the “industrialized West.”

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******We’ve now seen the sedimentation of many strands of hitherto marginal movements achieve a symbiotic relationship with one another. Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey’s Theosophical philosophy of the cosmic-guide Great Hidden Mahatmas of has continued in the channelings of many mediums. Hundreds of books are annually published of trance-formed teachings that speak of reincarnation and vanished civilizations like Atlantis, Mu, and Lemuria. Their messages exhort the evolutive potentialities for the whole of humanity, ideas gleaned from sources as diverse as Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre to Sri Aurobindo to Teilhard de Chardin. Almost all mediums speak of a coming Golden Age for humanity. Although the extraterrestrial angle of the psychic communicants has morphed into purely angelic forces, it has not gone away. Hundreds of thousands of people are meditating and adopting rituals of Buddhism and Vedanta. Retreats have sprung up and been successful, inspired by the Esalen Institute and communal movements.

1991: With the publications of Truth Vibrations, Former TV presenter David Icke (1952-) begins a 25-year reign of terror upon common sense and the “Reptilian-Rothschild-Zionist banker” New World Order with his lectures and books, an unholy mélange of “The Matrix’s” ideas, paleo-anti-Semitism, anti-Freemasonry, particle physics, Russian hollow-moon theory, ancient astronaut theory–a bit of something for everyone. Icke brings together many strands of New Age thought in a barely-palatable narrative to explain a screwed-up world and maintains a following of millions.

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1995: knowledge of the Pentagon’s terminated Stargate program of remote viewers is declassified, to public ridicule. Begun in the early 1970s at the Stanford Research Institute, it at first gained NASA funding then $$ from the CIA and DIA. After disclosure was made, over the next fifteen years almost all the members of the project begin teaching the psychic technique and giving accounts of some of the amazing feats their cadre succeeding in carrying out over the program’s 23 years (many operations and their targets are still classified). Joseph McMoneagle (pictured), Ingo Swann, and Major Ed Dames become celebrities in the psychic world. There are currently close to half a million web pages dedicated to teaching this technique.

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March 26, 1997, 39 members of the extraterrestrial cult Heaven’s Gate are found dead of phenobarbital poisoning and asphyxiation in their compound. Having been in existence 25 years, its leaders Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles used full-spectrum cult techniques honed over the decades to convince coverts that they would be taken “home”–home appearing in the form of a spaceship that Applewhite believed was tailing the Hale-Bopp comet, which appeared visibly by February and reached its brightest March 22, four days before the suicides. Ufologist Jacques Vallee warned of this cult’s activities as early as 1978 in his book Messengers of Deception. Many believe Applewhite got the “trailing UFO” idea from radio host Art Bell, who discussed it on the air with amateur astronomer Chuck Shramek on Bell’s popular overnight show Coast to Coast AM.

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According to Terence McKenna, the coming end of the Mayan long-count calendar corresponds to an increasing novelty in experience and consciousness in the “noosphere” (as Teilhard de Chardin styled it) and that it will culminate in a singularity beyond which the world will suddenly become unrecognizable or utterly unpredictable. He can be credited in kick-starting 2012 mania, which will take many forms in various New Age communities. The Mayans’s ancient calendar simply ends on December 21, 2012 (or 2011 in some interpretations); there is no implied destruction of the earth or civilizations (although some would argue for the latter as having come true). Nevertheless, people stock their bomb shelters and say their prayers.

Ken Wilber (1949-) publishes his Kosmos Trilogy (1995-2000) a synthesis of evolutive thought similar to Sri Aurobindo’s but more akin to philosopher Georg Hegel’s or Jean Gebser’s, trying to give an account of everything. The philosophical metanarratives for thinking, history, and spirituality wheeze along.

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1986-2011: Oprah Winfrey (1954-) gives free rein on her talk show to Deepak Chopra (1947-) on holistic health, Gary Zukav on the quantum physics/consciousness connection, Marianne Williamson (1952-, pictured) on A Course in Miracles, Eckhart Tolle (1948-) on living in the present, and provides a platform for dozens of other spiritual gurus who preach various versions of the preceding thirteen decades’ belief systems. She single-handedly brings New Age thought into mainstream American culture via her show.

 

 

Einstein on the Beach: Train 1

 

A moving tableau: a living shadow box.
Traditional theater elements separated from each other, then mixed.

Time moves only by way of the events on stage and their relationships.
The actions of the separate elements—actors, dancer, train, fog, light, screen—are events measuring spacetime relative to each other, requiring the viewer’s effort to induce meaning. Einstein is framed then unframed.
The diagonal is thematic, and simultaneity is a rehearsed accident.

Daemons (work in progress)

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The demon Ashmedai in a Hebrew incantation bowl

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The Kelly-Hopkinsville entities of the 1955 encounter.

 

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Dr. Naama Viloszni’s collection of Hebrew incantation bowl illustrations during the Babylonian captivity.

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The otherworldly beings of the Day family abduction, Aveley, England, 1974.

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Aleister Crowley’s LAM, encountered 1918 during the Amalantrah Working, NYC.

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I believe (on no present evidence whatsoever) that Ted Jacobs was either asked by Strieber or independently based his iconic Communion cover on Crowley’s LAM entity. Strieber notes in the book that Jacob’s painting is a far more anthropomorphic vision of the being he repeatedly encountered. Note the “erased” areas above LAM’s “eyelids”. They have the characteristic teardrop or almond shape persons have described “grays” possessing…The left area also contains what appears as an erased or shaded patch that perhaps was once, or is meant to “subliminally” suggest, a staring eye. Thus compare Crowley’s LAM drawing with this drawing by Betty Andreasson of the “angel” Quazgaa in 1978:

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Above: Set of Enochian characters scryed by Edward Kelley and elaborated by Dr. John Dee, 1582.

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“Alien” language channeled by Dr. Mario Pazzaglini.

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The “universal language of space,” channeled (with phonemic elaborations) from “an alien intelligence” by psychoanalyst W. John Weilgart in the 1960s, meant for expression of specific concepts without ambiguity. An article on Weilgart: https://www.anomalist.com/reports/language.html

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“Angelic music writing”, written spontaneously by 4-year old, 1944, (courtesy Mario Pazzaglini)

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Alien writing via contactee, 1992, to “manipulate minerals and light.

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Asemic writing.

Interview with Dr. Mario Pazzaglini: https://www.bibliotecapleyades.net/vida_alien/esp_vida_alien_54.htm

 

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Painted figures at burial site, Altai, Siberia, 3000 BCE.

Marcel Duchamp’s Collaborative Alchemical Game with the Given

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I used to have this postcard portrait of Marcel Duchamp stuck on my car’s dashboard. This image is both ironic and a fitting sentiment of the artist. Perhaps whoever made it also was trying to reference Magritte’s The Treachery of Images:

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Duchamp never wanted to be a role model. The art world filled him with ambivalence. After he failed by his own admission at “fine” painting, all he wanted to do was pose questions and experimentally answer those questions with punning riddles in the guise of paintings, sculptures, films, iconologies for existent and non-existent works, writings, and music. And play chess.

I’ve had very few art experiences in life where a transformation of my world occurred. Encountering Duchamp’s readymades was one of them, especially his criterion for choosing them: “visual (or aesthetic) indifference.” He chose them precisely because he’d never considered them in any aesthetic terms. An object you’ve lived with your whole life, ignored, invisible, suddenly announces its presence as a form. Nothing has changed. Everything has changed. You’ve just “enshrined” the object but just as it begins to glow with significance it fades once again into the background, inert. It’s lost, but you never possessed it in that way in the first place; you were indifferent. It’s free to reappear in its own time.[1]

With this oscillating “frame” of significance Duchamp anticipated (perhaps created?) the cultural world we now live in; the repurposing of objects has become known as appropriation or the mash-up.

At some point early on he discovered that the norms of the art world were more important than, and actually preceded, the physical objects which they instantiated. To make a game out of aesthetic choices, and art a realm of “possible worlds” an artist could by choice inhabit or change, was revealed. Duchamp just showed us that we play hide and seek with our own and society’s values, our artistic success depending on a host of occult and marginalized factors.

Duchamp couldn’t be a role model because he was a singularity. He was his own “factory” long before Warhol could envision a Factory to produce the “aura” (aurea=gold) of art. Duchamp tried via his readymades to break the barrier between the mundane and the sacred, the haute monde of art and the mass produced culture, decades before Warhol; Warhol is unthinkable without Duchamp—as well as hundreds of other famous artists. He’s arguably the most important artist of the 20th century.

Duchamp was attracted to alchemical texts and imagery because they were the product of symbolic codes between solitary practitioners. He could understand his own position vis a vis society and the art world through the lens of the consummate outsider/insider, an inhabitant of the liminal space—the trickster. Hermes-Mercury, the trickster-messenger figure, was also the patron of magic and alchemy. To the public, alchemical texts made no sense, just as they were designed to. Their arcane vocabularies, neologisms, and often-violent imagery were meant to protect the sacred truths against profane eyes (as well as confuse the authorities who might detect a whiff of necromancy).

Many of the Dadaists and Surrealists were interested in alchemical jargon and images, but only because it satisfied their taste for apparent irrationality; they understood them only as hallucinations or automatisms brought on by the alchemists’ chemical experiments or drug ingestion.

We have since learned much more about the history, methods, codes, and goals of alchemy. At its most basic you might say alchemy is the transformation, by natural yet hidden means, of elements that make up everything known in the universe. Traditional alchemy concerned obtaining the prima materia, the unchanging essence that underlies all elements, and using it to transform metals into “nobler” forms. All of the procedures had counterparts in the psyche of the practitioner, and, some say, originate and end there.

The Philosopher’s Stone is, of course, most associated in the popular mind with the turning of lesser metals into gold. We could easily interpret the concept and execution of a readymade as an attempt at inducing mental and emotional alchemy on the spectator—but only those who might already be primed to understand such a thing.[2] At some point in 1912-13 Duchamp claimed a retreat from the plastic arts and denigrated them as retinal art: “retinocentric,” we might now say. We could expand this criticism to include time and notation as superfluous in music, as John Cage eventually did, and typography of linear words and their significations, as e e cummings, say, did in poetry—and center art in the mind. The perception makes the thing intelligible and special to the viewer, who co-creates the art experience. Duchamp in a sense democratized the art experience to be whatever moved one to experience it as such.

Obviously this tremendously undermined the social values of the art world and its tendency (at the turn of the 20th century) towards increasing commodification.

Duchamp was an atheist, but did he hold any spiritual values? He certainly denigrated art’s power as a surrogate for religious sentiment…At some point, with material science replacing the qualitative values of religions into the quantitative values of the physicist and technocrat in society, the plastic arts came into their own as a source of spirituality. Eliphas Levi’s occult writings, the Spiritualist movement, and Blavatsky’s Theosophy inspired a counter-current to the quantitative mindset that was indoctrinating millions of minds. Along with these came waves of art movements: Neo-Classicism (Academic art), Impressionism, Symbolism, Post-Impressionism, Fauvism, Cubism, Orphism, Die Brucke, and pure abstraction (the Blaue Reiter movement, with Theosophist Kandinsky as its proponent). The manifesto-mills were at full capacity.

Duchamp, however, shared in the burgeoning technological fascination and the cult of automation. He was enamored with the machine’s anti-aesthetic, it’s pure functionality, and viewed them as allegories for social relations, sex, and certain modes of human consciousness, a multi-variant mirror that yet was not “reductionist” as we’ve come to know that term. His stance was more like a prefiguring of Marshall McLuhan’s view of technology as extensions of the human form, senses, and capabilities. For Duchamp high technology was more material to be worked with, to other ends than the pragmatic—to engage the “useless beauty” of the artistic gesture. Here was yet another reversal of values.

Then came the Great War. In the wake of this catastrophe, “civilized” values became suspect to the art world in the political oasis of Zurich. Freud’s ideas of the unconscious thanatos drive in the European/American psyche spread and found expression in the Dadaist’s shocking destruction/deconstruction/dismissal of “bourgeois” aesthetic standards, a social counterpart to the deaths of the war and1918 flu pandemic. The techniques associated with Spiritualism (trance states, automatism in writing/poetry-making and painting and drawing) and utilizing chance became working procedures for artists via the Dadaists.

Duchamp never formally associated himself with the Dada movement; he’s rather considered via the readymades their “patron saint” or an isolated inspiration. His conceptions of the rationale for the readymades changed over the decades; he was never certain, in retrospect, what impelled him to make such a move in the first place. But with the readymades, a transformation of consciousness perfectly in sync with the alchemists’ project was made possible. Collage had been used in Picasso’s and Braque’s Synthetic Cubist experiments, and by 1917 the Dadaists were cutting up all sorts of things into collage. But to hack the art world by recontexualizing an everyday object, unaltered, whether a coat rack or bottle rack or tilted urinal, was unthinkable until Duchamp did it. Puzzlement and derision followed Fountain (1917), now considered the most important work of 20th Century art.

Fountain 1917, replica 1964 by Marcel Duchamp 1887-1968

He did many variations of readymades. Some, like Pharmacie, were “rectifications:”

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This is a simple store-bought painting, “completed” or “redeemed” by the addition of two dots, one red and one green—the colors associated with drug stores in France. What he did was reverse the arrow of signification in Walter Benjamin’s “age of mechanical reproduction”: he took a “pre-reproduced” object and exhibited it as a unique object. He reversed the value of the negligibly valueless. But only a small number; the majority of his readymades were “rectified” objects or altered to fit his idiosyncratic personal mythology. Other rectified readymades were deliberately provocative, like the goateed Mona Lisa, LHOOQ:

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In French, this title phonetically sounds like the phrase “she’s got a hot ass.” Besides repurposing the trivial, Duchamp’s other long-time exploration was with gendered identity. His alter ego Rrose Selavy (eros, c’est la vie—a bad pun, indeed!) appears on several works. Here’s his Belle Haleine/Eau de Voilette (1921), a title, via the transposed letter V for T, apparently meaning “Beautiful Breath of the Veil Water”:

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It’s unfortunate, but there seems to be a rule that both modern and (post)modern art’s meaning to the audience and art history, as measured in the amount of ink spilled in explaining it, is oft times in inverse proportion to the amount of “craft/skill/representational talent” the given work being explained actually displays. This thought occurred to me while reading Clement Greenberg’s and Harold Rosenberg’s defenses of Abstract Expressionism—and a similar thought formed the basis of Tom Wolfe’s notorious screed The Painted Word.

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With Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even, or The Large Glass, we have this tendency to explanation brought to its absurd extreme, and all the hermeneutics done by the artist himself in the subsequently published Green Box, a collection of all his notes, diagrams, and explanations of the iconology of the piece. So we have an artist imagining the context, history, function, and critique for his own piece in advance of and alongside its creation, a dialogue with his unconscious. He was thus ahead of his own posterity in creating his own mythology…The same occurred when the Philadelphia Museum of Art revealed Duchamp’s final work, Etant Donnes: la chute d’eau 2. La gaz d’eclairage (Given: 1. The Waterfall 2. The Illuminating Gas) which he’d secretly spent decades on and seems at once a condemnation of the museum-goer/haute monde critic/collector as voyeur, and a literal wooden “façade” behind which a “truth” is to be discovered.

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This is its “aesthetically indifferent” facade.

Get up close and personal, gaze into a certain crack in this mask, and hello!:

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Inside

——–

Many thousands of artists can claim Duchamp as a direct inspiration (or those inspired by him as a secondary muse). Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns, Claes Oldenburg, and the other quasi-Pop artists of the late 1950s and 1960s incorporated found-object (readymade) elements in their work. Collaborations between Rauschenberg, choreographer Merce Cunningham, and John Cage resulted in multi-media events that prefigured the late 60s Happenings. Some of Warhol’s films elevated the mundaneness of the “retinal” to absurdity, yet they prefigured the video painting-installations of Bill Viola. Stripping art of its need for embodiment led to the jokes of Piero Manzoni and Yves Klein, the Arte Povera movement, the whimsical “experience recipes” of Yoko Ono and Fluxus, and the artist’s ego dissolution into actions like Joseph Beuys’s. Individuals from the “postmodern” dance world, influenced by Duchamp via Cunningham and Cage, came together with Robert Wilson’s unique theatrical visions to produce tremendous operas that almost defy rational explication. Out of the Sixties’ Happenings and theater such as Wilson’s came the performance art of the 1980s, embodied most successfully in the multimedia presence of Laurie Anderson.

But this latter movement produced very few memorably shocking events (comparable to Fountain) that erased further the boundaries Duchamp had begun to; those had been rehearsed and “perfected” in performances during the free-for-all 1960s and 70s, like Chris Burden’s Shoot, Ono’s Cut Piece, Shigeko Kubota’s Vagina Painting, or the multimedia conceptual works of Sophie Calle and Genesis P-Orridge.

When we talk about contemporary international art, which names come up? Tracey Emin? Banksy? Jeff Koons? Damien Hirst? Christo? These persons are more like rock stars. Damien Hirst gets pounded all around for his faux-whimsy and creative bankruptcy and is perennially sued for plagiarism. Emin has coasted on the notoriety of one Biennale piece for quite a while. At a more “normal” level of “craft” we have Gerhard Richter, Matthew Barney, Anish Kapoor, Andy Goldsworthy,

 

 


[1] This recalls a story the composer John Cage, a Duchamp disciple and friend, once told about visiting a woman friend and having a few drinks while some strange music played from her stereo speakers. He enquired what it was and she replied, “you can’t be serious?!” It was a recording of his music, probably one of his star-map derived scores that were meant to mutate with each performance; the scores had come from transparencies laid across star clusters that Cage used the I Ching to determine which would be notes and which would be tone-clusters. The pianist-interpreter would read these as notes. Cage wanted to create pieces that were free from human ego as possible, for them to become a part of the world of sounds as sounds spontaneously appear to us. For him to unexpectedly encounter in the world the product of a “recipe” he’d devised must have delighted him.

[2] A person’s opinion of Duchamp’s readymades—whether they are brilliant ideas that expand one’s conception of art, or a bad (and poorly executed) joke—largely determines how one views many of the 20th century’s art movements (such as Dada, Surrealism, Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, art brut, arte povera, Fluxus, etc.). The irony is, Duchamp would probably disavow the former and mildly agree with the latter!

Bill Viola’s “Tiny Deaths” and the Inversion of the Gallery Space

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Video artist Bill Viola’s oeuvre spans four decades and hundreds of works. Known best for his tableau video installations and huge scrim projection works, there is one “minor” work from 1993 that I think is his most intriguing and startling. Confronting it was a life-changing aesthetic event.

Tiny Deaths is an installation piece for a very darkened square room. As one enters, muted distorted voices become apparent, softly moaning and speaking unintelligible mantras from some undefinable space, as if unconnected to the room. The immediate effect is spooky as hell. The walls are soon found to be shimmering in very dark grey-scale projection, like the snow of an old television screen with the brightness and contrast at zero. But the projectors are hidden. As one walks about the dark you will come to notice a shadow—perhaps your own—is on the barely lit wall before you. But it stands still as you move; it is a phantom presence. You inspect it. The mutated voices are growing louder and illumination is bleeding rapidly into the space. Suddenly the sounds crescendo in a whoosh and there is a flash behind you. You turn but everything is the same: three barely shimmering walls. Your eyes once again must adjust. The voices murmur low. You look back at the shadow before you, which seems washed out by the intense flash. But it’s still there and growing dimmer. If you choose to concentrate upon it, over a period of a moment and a half or so you notice it has begun to take on details. There is a face. Eyes, a mouth. Clothes. It is glowing slightly brighter with a light that is somehow generated by the image itself and not from a projector. The details appear quicker. The voices are growing louder again. Suddenly a person in black and white in full detail appears before you but is gone in a flash before you discern fully any details.

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On reflection you discover that the light is acting two ways, as projection and reflected illumination, causing a “third realm” in the gallery—or the viewer’s mind—where the viewer(s) is a part of the work. You are gradually washed out by the light and equally disappear to the other patrons.

This is one of the greatest works of art I’ve ever experienced. You have to be there a while to get it. The flashes create a “liminal space” between the depicted persons and the spectators. You can view a two dimensional representation of a person on a wall or a living person standing beside you in the gallery space and the same fleeting effect occurs, but the latter is the “real” world—the world of mortal beings who grow old and die. The images could theoretically cycle through eternity.

Thus the work has a subtext about the visual preservation of the human form that photography grants but can never encompass. We in the gallery are the real subjects of the piece. Viola has reversed the arrow of signification on us, brilliantly.

Illumination in a spiritual sense. Viola has been a Buddhist for 40 years. Suddenly the frail human being appears from the nigredo of a roiling, dimly sparking wall, only to vanish in less than a second and return to darkness. We witness a sudden, finite drama on a two-dimensional surface that reflects its light onto our three dimension world. But like these trapped representations, we exist coursing along the dimension of time as well…The voices drifting through the room offer no condolence or condemnation. They are beyond legibility and meaning. And so is this mystery of existing as a representation of something beyond this four-dimensional and ceasing to inhabit it. It asks us: to what realm are we akin to these persons displayed upon the wall?

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Sims, All the Way Down?

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According to philosopher Nick Bostrom, the chances we are living in a simulation by either extraterrestrial forces or a future “posthuman” civilization are very high—given its possibility, when wedded with a few other conditional axioms.

Here’s Bostrom’s abstract from his 2003 thought experiment:

This paper argues that at least one of the following propositions is true: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof); (3) we are almost certainly living in a computer simulation. It follows that the belief that there is a significant chance that we will one day become posthumans who run ancestor-simulations is false, unless we are currently living in a simulation. A number of other consequences of this result are also discussed.

First, Bostrom’s idea of the “posthuman” parallels that of Ray Kurzweil’s result of a technological singularity: it is mostly unpredictable from our current, limited human standpoint, but definitely involving 1) an astounding improvement to human somatic functioning; 2) interface with technology, probably via nanobots that eliminate disease and the aging process and allow the brain unlimited access to data; 3) the use of “non-thinking” objects/substances/processes as a substrate within which consciousness or computation could exist.[1] When all these events occur, a bootstrapping effect could take over that sidesteps biological evolution altogether and turns humans into “substrate neutral” entities that could conceivably use light, interstellar dust or gas to copy themselves, compute, and travel the cosmos. Bostrom refuses to specify posthuman qualities, ethics, activities, etc., but suffice it to say they would have powers we think of associated with deities and even the creator God of the monotheist—if they so chose to actualize them.

His argument rests upon these contingencies: 1) that humanity survives to a level where technological singularity is possible; 2) that humanity achieves successful passage through the period of singularity; 3) that substrate-neutral consciousness/computing is possible; 4) that our posthuman descendants could, using technology, run simulations for research purposes or “what-if?” scenarios (possibly a near-infinite number of them); 5) that they would either declare them unethical outright and not do such simulations or grow bored of them.

Bostrom admits that there is no necessity to any of these possibilities. However he goes on with the thought experiment assuming that one of the three possibilities is true, and chooses as most likely number three because our descendants, not having blown themselves up, would most likely try to simulate the past, if it were possible.

The indifference principle is invoked to assign whether we today would find ourselves within one of their simulations or not. John Rawls used this idea, in an altered form (called the difference principle), in his famous Theory of Justice thought-experiment. It assigns to any or all agents in an imaginary society an equal probability of being born a pauper or a prince(ss), congenitally compromised at birth or a very healthy physical specimen, or at any position between the extremes. Given your own ignorance of knowing where you might fall in the social order (your “original position” as Rawls calls it) how would you design a society that alleviates, to the best of its abilities, the harms of your being born into the “lowest,” resourceless position (if you happened to draw that lot) while minimizing economic harm to the interests/resources of those at or near the top of the social hierarchy, who would be compelled under a principle of justice to help the less fortunate members of society? And vice versa: what would be fair for you, as one of the elite (one with access to vast resources), to sacrifice in order to help those at poverty/disadvantage of any kind?

Bostrom adapts this “blind lottery” scenario to the field of possible worlds we could potentially find ourselves inhabiting at any given known time. We can know nothing of the past beyond our births, and only speculate on the future. We must concentrate on the possibility that this world, today as we know it, is a simulation by ETs or post-humanity.

But what outweighs this probability?

By adopting the indifference principle, Bostrom says, nothing conceivably can outweigh it. Our insufficient information at present on the future of humanity can lead us only to determine what could probably be the truth, given the overdetermined unknowns in his severely restricted assumptions. Bostrom assumes things that he doesn’t exactly spell out or engage. He accepts it as a given that consciousness is computable, by using Eric Drexler’s formulations of the energy consumption necessary for bits-processing-per-second. To this he adds AI theorist Hans Moravec’s formulation for the processing power of the human brain, and his own formulations on consciousness+human memory to find an energy amount and cost for computing a simulation. The first objection any rational person would counter is that the energy cost to simulate even a single conscious brain in our world, much less a virtual cosmos for many “brains,” would be laughably high for us, even if it could be done for only a few seconds. There’s an astronomically high probability that the energy ET/posthuman simulations require would be finite, and that these limitations would be detectable to us. Glitches in the simulation would occur as a result, and we would already have noticed these glitches and know we were inside a program.

Bostrom sidesteps this in two ways. First he says the “machines” powerful enough to simulate a universe also could easily and instantly rewrite our memories if a game-giving-away error occurred (in other words, that a “smoothing over” algorithm is always at work). Second, he backs up this failsafe and underpins the whole problem of energy-use by playing with Drexler’s conjecture that the quantum energy “pool” of entire planets could be harnessed as power sources for nanocomputation in biological, silicon, or any available substrate.[2] Remember, we’re talking intelligences that are “indistinguishable from magicians” or gods, and can hack the “computation power” of molecules. By this reckoning, simulating entire worlds for billions of equally simulated conscious observer-beings (like us) would be easy.

That is one possibility. Another is that the rules of entropy that we perceive as the “arrow of time” and space-time physics are simply programming of this simulation. Like in The Matrix, they are ultimately unreal. If the simulators in fact have access to infinite energy sources, they could program a world to have any physical rules they want it to.

Ironically, this scenario implies the high probability of an afterlife. After all, we aren’t really living if we are simulations. We could be “deleted” but what would there be to that condition? Our forms, as energy patterns in “time,” could just as easily be resurrected, or even go on to a simulated afterlife.

In other words, all the conjectures of religion and mystics could in fact occur as “realities” inherent to the simulation.

Or they could have evolved spontaneously in our human minds as a part of glitches, “anomalies” involving, say, Muhammad’s encounter with a massive “spacetime programming error” that was interpreted by Muhammad’s “mind program” as the angel Gabriel.

And suppose a whacked-out theory such as the one claiming millennia-old sounds or images can be imprinted as “stone recordings” is true in this sim (that there are programmed rules for such a phenomenon to occur), or that ghosts are actually “etheric recordings” of people who once lived (that is, who once inhabited the “level one” program of a life on earth as a person)? Or that UAP actually are energy forms/craft not indigenous to this part of the earth-program? All the debunkers’ bets are off against the paranormal being real if we do in fact live in a simulated universe. The division between the normal and the paranormal are senseless in such a universe.[3]

If we are simulations, the chances of a near-infinity of parallel simulations that are slightly different that ours by a few electrons (the multiverse conjecture) means that one conscious “monad” (me or you, say) could conceivably cross over into a parallel simulation, or be moved from one to the other, without our ever being cognizant of it.[4] Bostrom acknowledges all this in his paper:

The possibility expressed by alternative (3) is the conceptually most intriguing one. If we are living in a simulation, then the cosmos that we are observing is just a tiny piece of the totality of physical existence. The physics in the universe where the computer is situated that is running the simulation may or may not resemble the physics of the world that we observe. While the world we see is in some sense “real”, it is not located at the fundamental level of reality.

            It may be possible for simulated civilizations to become posthuman. They may then run their own ancestor-simulations on powerful computers they build in their simulated universe. Such computers would be “virtual machines”, a familiar concept in computer science. (Java script web-applets, for instance, run on a virtual machine – a simulated computer – inside your desktop.) Virtual machines can be stacked: it’s possible to simulate a machine simulating another machine, and so on, in arbitrarily many steps of iteration. If we do go on to create our own ancestor-simulations, this would be strong evidence against (1) and (2) (remember: (1) the human species is very likely to go extinct before reaching a “posthuman” stage; (2) any posthuman civilization is extremely unlikely to run a significant number of simulations of their evolutionary history (or variations thereof)};, and we would therefore have to conclude that we live in a simulation. Moreover, we would have to suspect that the posthumans running our simulation are themselves simulated beings; and their creators, in turn, may also be simulated beings.

            Reality may thus contain many levels. Even if it is necessary for the hierarchy to bottom out at some stage—the metaphysical status of this claim is somewhat obscure—there may be room for a large number of levels of reality, and the number could be increasing over time. (One consideration that counts against the multi-level hypothesis is that the computational cost for the basement-level simulators would be very great. Simulating even a single posthuman civilization might be prohibitively expensive. If so, then we should expect our simulation to be terminated when we are about to become posthuman.) (italics and emphasis added)

So Bostrom and others have spoken of simulating universes, and within those, its inhabitants run further simulations. We have the possibility of a simulation within a simulation within a simulation—sims all the way down.

This idea of simulation and levels of simulations parallels the ancient Gnostic idea of a corrupt, illusory cosmos created by an evil archon and policed by demons. Perhaps the simulators are looking for those “simpeople” intuitive or smart enough to figure and find channels out of the simulation to communicate with them, Truman Show-style, and they will be rewarded somehow, like a rat in a maze—perhaps with a continuity of sort after their “death.” This would be one of the primary reasons posthumans or ETs would want to simulate human life, or something like it: to see if simulations can become self-aware, cubed. In this case, we’d be like the most adaptable denizens of John Conway’s Life Game, and get to perhaps be kicked up a level (ascended) into a more complex “dimension” of the simulation.[5]

—————-

Bostrom’s simulation argument still minimizes the question of what biological forces created the simulators, if they were or are “natural” creatures—as we the simulated perceive biology to be, that is. If they are posthumans, and have designed the “initial conditions” of our Life Game differently than their own, then we can’t know theirs and thus our own “biological” origins. If they designed our simulation to mimic exactly their own past cosmic initial conditions, but run a multitude of iterations of them, we would still happen to find ourselves in the one in which we evolved into sentience (the standard “anthropic principle”) but we could never know and never will know the point at which our world-simulation diverged/diverges from theirs and led to their supernatural evolution. It may have occurred at any point from the beginning until this very moment, and far into the dissolution of this universe/multiverse.

What we could say with certainty is that if there is equality of form between our physical/biological rules and those of the cosmos “outside” in which they inhabit and evolved from, this equality could be discovered in principle.

Some (not Bostrom) say it’s pure AI that’s created the universe, or there is computational equivalence between this universe and that of an omnisupercomputer. So where did the AI come from? Is it just playing a game? Denying that it must have emerged from biological beings and processes is absurd in one sense…Can we export our frail stories of “chaotic-primordial-soup-to-ordered catalysts and evolutionary ascent” to the genesis of beings with such power? Did they create our world to embody our own discovery or creation of this narrative? If not, what are the alternatives to it? That we are prisoners of “Solid State Intelligence,” as John Lilly called it and The Matrix dramatized? This implies they have programmed our universe to appear as if biological beings exist when in fact they don’t exist at all. Neither would geology, physics, etc. or anything we call “natural.”

Again, all bets are off. Bostrom has come up with quite a memetic trickster in the aether.

I’ll go Platonic here: there must be an essence to the Idea “biological” and an essence to the Idea “artificial.” Computer simulations can model biological processes but are not themselves biological, no matter how much enthusiasm the AI geek imbues their design with details matching what is currently known about molecules and enzymes and catalysts, etc. Simulation means to create a copy, down to the last detail, of an original example that pre-exists the simulation. Perhaps this is why Bostrom foregoes the pure AI simulators for “posthumanity.” These simulators must know the rules of what we would consider biology, drawn from the Idea (which, under Plato’s philosophy, would precede any instantiations of it) in order to sim biological beings. Therefore, the simulators must at least be acquainted with real, instantiated biological entities.

Or must they? If not, what’s then the difference between the simulators and a creator God(ess)?

There is none, according to Bostrom.

If our universe is a wholesale simulated creation, we have nothing with which to measure the creator(s)’ ontological status against ours. Even Descartes’s certainty fails in Bostrom’s scenario; they have programmed the thinking and personality that I believe is me—and your thinking and personality, too. The simulators are beyond our categories of classification and capacity to grasp…Like Pascal’s wager, is it then best to just put faith in our biological reality and ignore the entire problem of simulation? Or should we, as Bostrom would have it, bet on the opposite? Or should we use Pascal’s wager in its original sense via Bostrom, that is, conclude it is better to believe the simulator “gods” exist and try to reach out to them somehow?

———

Wittgenstein asked himself about the possibility of eternal life in the Tractatus, and concluded with the question “what problem would it even solve that we live forever?” We can adapt this to say that, even if we are products of simulators posthuman or extraterrestrial, our grasping the “truth” of this would entail mysteries outside our conceptions of time and space, and as the TractatusWittgenstein would conclude, it is senseless to even consider; it solves none of our human problems—the facts of the world as we find it—to know whether we are in a simulation or not.

 


[1] For a short essay on this last-mentioned technology, see the next essay on this site: “Substrate-Neutrality, Nano Tech, and ET.”

[2] Again, see the following essay linked-to above.

[3] I’m certain some of the most rabid atheist debunkers will want to reject the simulation hypothesis on these grounds alone, even if Bostrom’s paper is a cogently-argued piece of rationalism, because it threatens to destroy their belief that ours if a steady-state cosmos amenable to their scientistic dogmas.

[4] Or our consciously realizing it as a glitch. Some people call this the Mandela Effect: when all the public evidence for something recollected from one’s past differs significantly from the recollection, and all evidence one might have except one’s personal memory has been altered to conform to the present representation. We could explain this as simple and cheap misrecollection, except for the fact that so many millions of people have experienced it with regard to the same representations, and a growing community is discussing and noticing more examples. I have one myself.

[5] Again, such a conjecture must constitute the horror of horrors for the scientistic fundamentalist.

Nick Bostrom’s Simulated Universe argument gives Descartes’s evil demon a headache–apparently, he, too, is a simulation in Rene’s imagination.

The Metachorea, Chapter 1: Don’t Confuse me with the Facts!

PREFACE:

    DON’T CONFUSE ME WITH THE FACTS…

By the second decade of the 21st century it is clear that the “great conversation” of philosophy has exhausted all possible pretenses to explaining an “ultimate reality” and, via its general turn to critiquing institutional powers, has almost entirely penned itself off from policing the empirical sciences.[1]

One reason for this situation is due to a centuries-old belief: Science is not supposed to deal with morality and ethics. Morality was the one province left to philosophy,[2] but by now this defense has been virtually swept away by the secular humanism that informs the Enlightenment’s political program. Technocracy’s utilitarian foundations have for the most part trumped moral concerns; ethics, whether pragmatic or deontological, only impede the march of science in its goal to relieve the plights of humanity.

The ancient forms of holistic philosophy such as the Stoics’s, in which epistemology, ontology, and ethics were inseparable, are forever gone. With the exception of German “meta-narrativists” such as Kant, Hegel, and Spengler, the classical Stoic trio of disciplines lived on until the late 19th century, when epistemology and ontology were farmed out to the hard sciences of physics, biology, chemistry, and neurology. Ethics was in effect left to individual conscience and the rationalizations of religious mores.

While “hard” science appealed to certainty for its cosmic visions, its methods were eventually applied to government policy and public mental health regimes via the soft humanistic sciences of psychology, economics, sociology, and anthropology. The freedom of a sovereign conscience came to apply not only to belief as defined by the Abrahamic religions, but eventually to beliefs in general on the nature of reality; this was the creeping nihilism inherent in supposedly “value-free” sciences which Nietzsche, amongst others, railed against as both dangers and as opportunities for a type of conscious evolution.

Today this free-for-all has resulted in multiplying the cosmologies and beliefs to which a person could potentially subscribe. Despite the sciences’ pretentions to a singular reality of which scientists are the sole arbiter, we have been in an ontological bacchanalia for some time now.

If we are awake and open, we must attempt to process a confusing mélange of conflicting explanations for where we have come from and even what we are. Those who are absolutely certain of any truth—and hold a universality to their beliefs—are looked upon as suspect, unhinged, even fascist.

So what has this situation to do with “anomalous” experiences and the human imagination?

It turns out, everything. From the standpoint we will explore, anomalous experiences like ghost sightings, psychokinesis (PK), or seeing an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) are akin to the creative acts of the human mind; both human ingenuity and anomalous experiences are equally mysterious in their origin.[3] Both have been plagues on humankind, for very different reasons.

 

I’LL SEE IT WHEN I BELIEVE IT

With a fair amount of certainty one can predict a given person’s explanation for an Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) encounter based only upon their opinion of what reality consists—whether they profess a belief in absolute idealism or materialist monism, for instance.

For example, if one believes the real world is ideal (whether it be thoughts in the mind of God, the veil of maya, a realm of Platonic Forms beyond our imperfect copies, or a holographic projection from a higher dimension) then there is a good possibility that they will come to believe the UAP and their “pilot entities” are made of the same insubstantial “mind stuff” as we and everything else in the universe—incorporeal thought-forms—but perhaps more powerful with regard to their controlling these illusions in the UAP percipient’s mind. If the universe is not physical, the UAP entities furthermore can be contacted directly on this mental-ideal plane. Distance and time are no obstacles if space-time is illusory and malleable continuum of Idea. This particular belief underlies many forms of occult practice, and historically is the bridge between modern UAP and the realm of ceremonial magic.[4]

A monist physicalist (materialist) on the other hand erects insurmountable barriers for UAP being either extraterrestrial or interdimensional or ideal, as we’ll explore shortly. A Darwinian physicalist would counter the explanation that UAP are manned by “hidden Terran race/cryptoterrestrial” by explaining that an unknown species of beings cannot have survived on this planet without human knowledge of them, if not depositing some kind of paleobiological proof of their existence. Their physicalist framework would render claims of evolved abilities to possess invisibility camouflage (as some cryptoterrestrialist theorists have suggested) and psychic powers in advanced, unknown homo sapiens occultum as unprovable nonsense.

A fundamentalist steeped in the Abrahamic religions will see the world as the product of a single act of creation whose physical laws are secondary to a moral informing of the cosmos. Angelic and demonic forces may exist in this worldview, but are necessary to their core beliefs only by which sect we are discussing. For instance, a Southern Baptist or Muslim Salafist may shrug off UAP as demons, or the activity of Ifritic djinn, respectively—which, as we’ll see in Book Two, basically amount to the same type of being.

Within the materialist/religionist dichotomy we have binary oppositions of belief amongst social groups. They have completely different methods of knowing of what truth consists, and how it is constructed. Sub-species of both belief-systems could be extended indefinitely. A Hindu may view UAP as the return of ancient vimana craft used by Krishna and Rama; an Azande will cognize them as evil witch lanterns; a Mormon might believe they are the signs of spiritually advanced angelic beings like the Angel Moroni who appeared to founder Joseph Smith…

The upshot is that these all are conditioned responses via a priori beliefs inherent in their religions’ cosmologies. The scientistic stance is no different in this regard: in their case, an a priori dismissal of Others’ existence as impossible.

The rational study of UAP remains an outlying pursuit in our society and is largely immune to policing of its method. Its pretense to scientific tractability is illusory. “Ufology” has nothing with which to grasp its target but anecdotes, patterns within the anecdotes, and deductive reasoning.

Today’s dismal state of UAP/encounter study is due to the psychological and philosophical factors noted above. The specific belief-system of the investigator determines categorization and the phenomenon’s essence. The groundbreaking work in UAP study, if it can even be called such, has already been done, and done long ago.[5] We now accrete myth upon myth; the parameters for the debate have supposedly been set. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but in UAP study, every opinion is practically unfalsifiable.

It would seem at this point to be a hopeless pursuit, but it is not. Just like mainstream science’s explanations for UAP, this tract will not be so much an explanation as a detailed description of a process that occurs to individuals and groups who encounter—or rather enfold within—such anomalies, its parallels with psychophysical paranormal events, and how Imagination irrupts all norms.

THE END(S) OF PHYSICS

The particle/wave complementarity of energy shown by quantum physics has given us an uneasy contentment with many phenomena that seem logically divergent. The untestable ideas of string theory yield the same unease in both its proponents and dissenters. The limits of the directly observable, long ago transgressed in quantum experiments, have driven physicists yet further to conjectures with no falsifiability criterion to test them.

The anomalies we will examine present disparate interpretations that structurally mirror our seemingly dead-ending physics. The divergence of interpretation stems from the highly strange circumstances of the paranormal events themselves. Ambiguity is their very nature, into which Imagination cannot but be projected.

With this essay I hope to steer a course using neurological and psychological findings about the brain, some axioms regarding that elusive activity known as human creativity, and deductions about anomalous perceptions, and tie them together.

 

UPENDING THE DEBUNKERS’ TOOLKIT

In science, there are several types of evidence that may support a hypothesis but, theoretically, “truth” is a label to be avoided. As per philosopher Karl Popper’s criteria, there should be no positive statements asserting a general truth, but tentative ideas that have observable and predictable consequences that can then be falsified by an experiment—therefore, if a theory’s entailed test(s) is falsified, then the theory should be reexamined, if not scrapped.

When we’re considering evidence for concepts such as other dimensions or “otherworldly” beings, most scientists demand evidence that amounts to a type of irrefutable proof of their existence.

But as is historically demonstrated, apparitions almost always appear spontaneously, and therefore the conditions to study them are unrepeatable in the sense that an experiment can be replicated.[6] The Spiritualists’ experiments of the 19th and 20thcenturies, witnessed by some of the greatest scientists of the period, by and large failed scientific tests; only a small fraction of the paranormal phenomena were left unexplainable. The same percentage (10-15%) holds for “unknowns” in UAP reports and their reported pilot entities.

The burden then becomes foisted upon an anomaly experiencer to prove a positive—the physical existence of what they witnessed or are asserting they witnessed.

To assert grounds for their non-existence is easy enough for the debunker; they only have to state that the laws of physics as we understand them do not allow the existence of beings from distant worlds to appear here because space-time travel-lengths from distant stars are too great, or that the physical energies for “transdimensional beings” to fold/warp into our space involved are too intense—and their intrusions would easily be noticed by scientific/military instrumentation deployed throughout society at large.[7]

But these scientists are replying to specific (perhaps grossly misguided) hypotheses as to what was witnessed in the first place by the percipient and/or made it into the investigator’s report. That the Others are physical extraterrestrial or transdimensional entities are 1) human conclusions made after the fact of experience, or 2) admissions by the (usually) more anthropomorphic-looking beings. Skeptics suspend judgment about such ideas. Debunkers are another story.

The entities may very well be from another star system, but the chances of that are very slim, as we shall see. For the debunker, whose mind is already made up, a snap judgment is inevitable: the percipient has given us lies, hallucinations, mistaken memory.[8]

The “normal” and the “paranormal” are useless terms when one considers that the norm is a matter of a frame of reference relative to a body of knowledge in historical time. In other words, the paranormal is a part of the natural world from a larger standpoint we simply may not yet understand. To take just one example of a debunker’s irony, here’s a real corker from Michael Shermer, editor-in-chief of Skeptic magazine: “It is at the horizon where the known meets the unknown that we are tempted to inject paranormal and supernatural forces to explain hitherto unsolved mysteries, but we must resist the temptation because such efforts can never succeed, not even in principle.”[9]

To what principle is he referring? It must be the axiom that the paranormal doesn’t exist because it simply can’t. This statement itself does not pass scientific muster. It’s a sterling example of rhetorically assuming total knowledge of what it intends to prove non-existent—that the paranormal does not exist, therefore cannot be investigated, simply because…it does not exist. It is circular. It rests on metaphysical assumptions about the ultimate nature of reality, that reality has no non-measurable aspects that may be responsible for the paranormal. Yet debunkers like Shermer are supposedly committed to eliminating metaphysics from any scientific discussion. The irony of his statement is completely lost on him.

It can’t be denied that debunkers neither prove or disprove any claim they make against the strange experiences anomaly witnesses report. Although many ufologists are masters at deploying logical fallacies in trying to prove extraterrestrials’ presence here on earth, there is no shortage of sloppy thinking in the debunker community either, in particular the use of the straw man, complex question, bandwagon, begging the question, ad hominem, “no true Scotsman,” subjectivist, and appeal-to-authority fallacies.

 

ET NULL HYPOTHESIS + 1

Astronomers Woodruff Sullivan and Adam Frank have tabulated figures using the first three parts of Drake’s equation and new information from the Kepler telescope, which has discovered 300 exoplanets. It turns out that nearly every star probably has at least one planet. In all likelihood billions of stars have planets in the “Goldilocks” zone where water and an atmosphere can form. According to their calculations there is a 1 in 10 billion chance that a civilization did not evolve in this habitable zone of some star. With the age of the universe, the chance that one that is at least as technologically advanced as ours developed at one time is 100%. Now multiply that by the estivated number of stars with planets in the habitable zone: 25%.

               The likelihood that advanced extraterrestrials exist, or existed in the past, is near 100%. If they exist at the level now, or have a say 100,000 year head start, it is very possible they could develop means of traversing vast interstellar distances. To say they have to pass through our exact technological phases to reach such a level is anthropocentric. Accident has played a huge part in scientific progress. Cognitive differences in their early evolutionary development could have led some of these extraterrestrials to possessing imaginative capacities far beyond ours; perhaps they could view designs for machines in 3-D solely in their minds, like Leonardo da Vinci was reputed to do. Perhaps they could see the finite and detrimental courses certain technologies would take (such as the use of fossils fuels). Perhaps after discovering mathematics, or a cognitive analogue to it, they could create in their minds many thousands of models for the composition and deign of spacecraft before even raising a finger to actually build them.

But these conjectures tell us nothing about them appearing here. Here is a syllogistic breakdown of the way things stand with regard to Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP) being extraterrestrial:

1. Standard ET hypothesis (ETH):
-Statistically, extraterrestrial life, perhaps technologically evolved many ten of thousands of years before us, must exist somewhere in our galaxy.
-Human-possible means of interstellar flight that approach/exceed light speed or that warp space have already been discovered by these extraterrestrials. Therefore,
-The ET civilizations that discovered it long ago could come here with ease, given the time-frame.
————
2. Conservative adjunct to ETH:
-Currently-known means of interstellar space flight make travel from elsewhere to earth nearly impossible for even one, let alone hundreds, of different alien races.
-There are hundreds of differing UAP forms and entities (“races”) reported; therefore
-Conventional means of interstellar flight are not used, or they are not here.
***Rejoinder: Unknown but human-possible means may be used for their interstellar transport, as in the first set of syllogisms; or multiple generations pass on the vehicle as it traverses space; or the beings are in suspended animation during flight; or grown artificially during flight; or they are very long-lived; or they are a form of artificial intelligences (drones).
Or…
These UAP and their pilot beings are not extraterrestrial but manifestations of something endogenous to earth.
———
3. Consensus ETH Qualification:
-5-10% of reported UAP and their entities are extraterrestrials.
-Different people have very rarely reported the exact same UAP and/or entity (prior to the “greys” seeming to dominate UAP lore 1980-present); there have been hundreds of types of “ships” and creatures reported, almost unique to each percipient, up to the present day.
-Statistically, to the best of our knowledge, it is probable that only one race would be able to perfect the technology capable as we currently envision it of making the journey, as in 2.1; therefore
Only one, or even none, of the UAP craft/entities are extraterrestrial.

***Rejoinder: We could conjecture that the single race that has made the journey here possess means to camouflage itself in a myriad of different forms, thus accounting for the hundreds of types and confusing humanity as to their purposes.

So the existence of UAP as extraterrestrial craft is suspect due to the numbers of different ships/beings that have been reported, and the vanishingly low odds of so many different “races” achieving the physical means to get here. And this even ignores the question of why they would be interested in our planet.

Still, the chance that an unknown intelligent force has interacted with the human race is very great, due simply to the astronomical numbers of reported events of “high strangeness,” revelations, contacts, epiphanies with otherworldly beings noted throughout history—all the way to the present age of UAP and aliens.

ANOMALIES AS NORMS

Another of science’s defining features is the strict classification of phenomena, a practice that stretches as far back (at least) to Aristotle. This Greek thinker also gave us the concept of the excluded middle, the axiom that any proposition must either be true or false. All existent beings either fall into one conceptual set or another. Their traits may overlap, but this results in the creation of a third set of predications. Thus could classification be extended indefinitely.

Together, classification and the excluded middle in practice allow no room for the existence for penumbral entities or experiences—that is, possibilities—where one must admit, almost everything in reality actually belongs. Plato’s “unveiling what is beyond nature,” wedded with Socrates’s technique of elenchus(suspension of any fixed beliefs in order to interrogate a phenomena) and Aristotle’s logic of classification bequeathed us the system that lives at the heart of science. This primal technology, this thinking method (or even a thinking ritual) has now changed the world, and especially how humanity regards its relation to religious experiences.

Regardless of the trappings, the structure of the anomalous phenomena still stands: an ethereal encounter begets the begats. The experiencers of Otherworldly beings and states have changed the world in ways that are socially primordial and more long-lasting than that of the modern science, its technology, and the epistemological stances associated with it.

When one examines human history, we should note that encounters with intelligent-seeming beings that seem evolved higher (or lower) than humanity, or are “from elsewhere” is a rule and not an exception. We may even venture to say that such encounters with Others are statistically ordinary occurrences over epochs, but extraordinary events in a sub-epochal sense—the span of a single week, for instance.

Another way of saying this is that spectacular anomalous events may occur unpredictably within the relatively short timespan of a decade or two, with clusters of events (or even none at all), but occur with a statistical consistency over long periods, such as two centuries—and by spectacular, I mean those events that have been recorded due to the presence of many credible witnesses, or devastating effects upon a small group of witnesses.[10] The Jansenist convulsionnaires movement (which we shall examine), the “Miracle of the Sun” at Fatima, Portugal in 1917 and the appearance of triangular UAP over the Hudson Valley in 1981-83 would be examples of mass anomalous experiences. In the 20th century, for instance, there were major worldwide waves of UAP encounters: 1947 (majority in USA), 1952, 1954 (majority in France/Italy), 1958, 1965-69, 1973-74, 1976-78 (majority in South America, UK, USA, and USSR), 1981, 1986-91.[11]

Every person who has lived has probably either 1) experienced an anomalous being directly; 2) known someone who has encountered one directly; or 3) has heard of someone by a maximum of two degrees of separation that has had an extraordinary encounter.[12]

The most important aspect of extraordinary encounters is that they almost always change that percipient’s outlook on life. The intense quality of their conviction affects people close to them; their family or friends may be converted by the sheer charisma of the transformed’s personality into not only belief in the experience, but belief in that force which ostensibly caused it as well. Obviously, such primary encounters are how religions begin: Pharaoh Amenhotep IV’s revelation of the Aten; Moses’s burning bush; the apostles encounter with the resurrected Jesus; Paul’s encounter with the resurrected Jesus; Gabriel’s appearance to Muhammad; Joseph Smith and the Angel Moroni, etc. Numinous encounters are also how the revelation of prophecy is forged: think of Ezekiel and Enoch and Elijah and John of Patmos. The communion of Saints Hildegard and Bernadette and Lucia with the “white lady” (AKA the Blessed Virgin Mary) has given way to alien contactees Betty Andreasson and Truman Betherum and Howard Menger encountering angelic-appearing beings. Each of these people had a meeting with some force that changed them—and through a subculture-to-cultural stealth, affected a not insignificant portion of our civilization.

Inside any socially stable group, individuals may be subject to an array of anomalous events but there are always limited vocabularies to describe and tame them. These anomalies transform the society, for good or ill—causing a spiritual solace in the experiencer(s), or causing a reactive force that comes to some powerful individuals or groups in vanquishing the irruption when it threatens the communal order (if we chose the late 17th century, for instance, by means of official exorcism or trials and murder of the “witch”).

It’s a simple fact that any arbitrarily chosen time-period/geographical area will possess its corresponding set of Otherworldly beings and associated phenomena. Their influences upon those populations’ thinking and, consequently, their histories are immense and unavoidable.

The bunk that arch-skeptics consistently retail is that a steady-state norm always exists from which there can be no deviation. If such a state of nature existed, all questions as to the universe’s structure and origin would be in principle knowable and probably satisfactorily answered by now. Scientific history is full of surprises that overturned everything known; it is how knowledge changes.

Arch-debunkers seem not to possess the reflective capacity to see the mechanisms by which the norms of accepted and acceptable scientific knowledge, for instance, have changed radically over the past century.[13] They are many times altered by noting and collecting anomalies in normal scientific practice, as Thomas Kuhn pointed out.[14] The norm is changing today at an almost alarming accelerating rate, and the scientific groundwork for postulating a falsifiable theory for anomalous experiences is being laid further each day. With this work, I hope to establish the skeleton and arrow pointing to such a theory.

 

THE EXPLANATORY IMPULSE

So how are such unusual experiences classified today? We know the judgments of the psychological turn (that psychoses or “hysteria” are responsible), and the “mistaken cognitive impression/hallucination” that neuroscience would offer us. These explanations are default frames of reference, and require no thought at all—and are especially poverty-stricken with regard to the content of the percipient’s “hallucination.”

The phenomenology of hallucinations is a crucial aspect pertinent to all mental experience and is amenable to analytic interpretation (Jung was one such pioneer) but on the whole neuroscientists minimize or ignore the significance of the imagery and messages that are present in “deviant” brain activity. Thus every day, inadequate explanations are wheeled out to explain strange experiences, as well as their extrapolation backwards in history to account for the otherworldly encounters of the past.

This is not to say that there aren’t valid psychological, sociological, and historical reasons explaining why people without a directexperience of an Other would come to believe these supernatural occurrences happened. A series of fortuitous strokes led an obscure Palestinian Jewish cult to ascend into the world’s most populous religion. A staunch Christian would likely disagree with that statement, or say that it was foreordained because it is the one true religion, with Paul of Tarsus being the historical lynchpin.

But there is a structure here that bears emphasizing: The important dynamic regarding a born-again Christian’s personal conversion-revelation is that Jesus’s resurrection aligns the “reborn’s” experience with that of Saint Paul’s. It places the percipient directly in the center of an/the originating divine experience. What to the born-again person is a divine tautology—“the grace by which Paul was saved is the same grace by which I was saved”—is echoed in the debunker’s tautology “temporal lobe malfunctions cause ‘religious-experience hallucinations’ that can only be caused by a temporal lobe malfunction.” The phenomenology of this supernatural grace or affect-soaked hallucination fail to account for the structural change to the percipient’s mental state and physical disposition afterward. For the rest of us, who try to dispassionately view the transformation of an individual’s life after an Otherworldly encounter—especially seeing that these persons have come into possession of personal qualities or talents hitherto minimal or non-existent—we are full of questions meant to break the circular logic.


THE DOUBLY-DAMNED

Mature “epistemological autocracies” such as our materialist worldview are ideologies that marginalize or attempt to erase human experiences that do not fit their framework. Charles Fort called anomalous experiences “the damned”—the events that are ignored, suppressed, or explained away by both secular and religious orthodoxies.

But it’s only fitting that they be damned to irrelevance, we say from our peculiar Darwinist way of thinking—for were there any reality to their existence, they would have gained scientific purchase and be recognized realities by now.[15]

There appear to be at least two reasons why this is so:

One: We simply do not adequately understand consciousness or the relation of consciousness to its substrate, the brain, to offer an explanation for them. But, science assures us, in the future we will. This is called promissory materialism—the idea that all the physicalist answers will one day be found for all mental phenomena. The greatest problem with this form of scientism is that its conclusions about an objective world presuppose a presence—an experiencing thing—that it cannot bring itself to acknowledge. At best, the dominant form of neuroscience can try to persuade us that this subjective realm of experience is only another kind of object, a chemical machine called the brain whose secrets and tricks we are slowly uncovering. All we lack is more powerful technologies to make the discovery complete. Some of the best thinkers have concluded that consciousness is only an illusion constructed by the brain in order to assist the propagation of genetic material.

This conflict between the non-objectivity of behavioral observations and the inability of science to bridge the mind-brain gap seems bereft of a solution. Neuroscientists can propose yet further physiological investigations. Philosophers can offer up an endless stream of thought experiments, but there is no final resolution to the problem of subjectivity trying to objectify itself. This notion of neural correlates of conscious mental states is at the heart of a number of neuroscientific misconceptions ranging from assessments of consciousness, to the claims that morality can be ascertained scientifically. The feeling of security given by the reductionist approach is in fact illusory—a feeling of security analogous to the fundamentalist religionist’s.

Two: Even if the mind/brain system were completely explained, a scientific model for anomalies would still be problematic under our epistemic autocracy because such phenomena are, by definition (mostly) single witness-dependent, subjective, and often singularly-occurring phenomena. As noted at the beginning of this chapter, these reports are incommensurable with our scientific method of hard data, replicable experimentation, and peer-reviewed study, so they would still be eliminated from consideration.

From the point of view of the religious fundamentalist, the anomalies’ ambiguous nature contradicts the idea that God has a specific order to existence. People today still claim to encounter angels and demons, for instance, and while these episodes may pose problems for the ecclesiastical authorities, they do not for the common believer. The belief is solid because it has historical provenance thousands of years old. Still, most mainstream Christian and Muslim sects chose to minimize people’s accounts of encountering them.

Anomalous experiences cannot be transmitted to others—except by a sympathetic recognition by persons to whom a similar event has occurred, or the faith and belief-induction of those close to them.[16] As a culture we in the “West” have tended to throw Charles Fort’s “damned” experiences all together in an inchoate mass. Fringe incidents begets fringe community: a near-death experiencer gravitates into a support group with other survivors, learns of the afterlife’s “ascended masters,” then the UAP-entity connection to these ascended masters, then crystal power, and is embraced by the New Age set and may end up converted to belief in a nefarious, Reptilian-led New World Order—all because their original NDE experience has found no home in our materialist-dominant culture.

Inevitably an experiencer is compelled to retreat from defending the pragmatic value of their anomalous experience—the positive changes that occurred to them as a result—to arguing whether it even happened in objective reality. The positive changes in the experiencer’s personality are irrelevant to the debunker, as we noted; they fall back on the “God-sensing center” of the brain’s neurological edifices, or the “spiritual-neuron bundles” responsible for conversion experiences (usually a temporal lobe malfunction) and consequent beliefs that arise from the malfunction.

The tenuous research on the brain’s “God center” point to merely correlative relations between neural stimulation and a reported experience; there cannot be a causative God-sensing center in the human brain in the way that, say, the pituitary gland causes the secretion of hormones.

This use of language is known as a category error and is, ironically, often deployed by the debunkers against religious believers. How can God be sensed by a part of the brain, when God/a larger spiritual world does not exist for the scientist? To be clearer: the debunker looks upon the anomaly percipient’s experience as an avowal of belief, not a statement of fact. “The pituitary gland secretes hormones” can be empirically demonstrated through measuring instruments, but that proposition depends upon the consensus meaning of “pituitary,” “gland,” “secretes,” and “hormones.”

There are observable referents to each of the words. The statement “I sense the presence of a loving God” also depends upon the meaning/reference of each part of the proposition—but that which is signified by the object “God” has sense, but no referent that can be measured. Most people experience the “oceanic feeling” of Oneness or interconnectedness at least once, and in innumerable ways. It is often used as a substitute for God. That it should have a neural correlate does not negate the meaning of the experience to the subject, to say nothing of the time factor: that the subjective experience may be the cause of the neural change. We will explore the arrow of causation in this essay.

The crux of the matter is this: what happens when percipients are compelled to use the epistemological methods used by the dominant scientistic regime to explain their unique experiences? They must turn to physical evidence, of course, to sate the physicalist demands.

Perhaps 5-10% of the time the UAP (and even fairy, djinn, or cryptid animal encounters) produce inexplicable physical traces such as landing marks, burns, sickness in the percipient, stigmata, scars, spontaneous healings, etc. From the most generous frame of reference, these traces are exactly the result of what is described—physical evidence that some kind of high-intensity energy interacted with the percipient. But they always turn out ambiguous from a scientific analysis.[17]

Just as the effects of quantifiable objects (such as electromagnetic fields in a coil) may produce theories as to how they work, we can trace the effects of paranormal events back to their probable causes. This is what I intend to do in this essay.

We will eventually see that the suspension of a single explanatory reference frames regarding “Otherly” beings lets us entertain the idea that there is a family resemblance between what experiencers of UAP entities, fairies, djinn, and Other beings claim, and take all such accounts on multiple levels. This is a fruitful approach used by journalist John Keel and ufologist Dr. Jacques Vallee—in particular, Vallee’s idea that, regardless of their physically real/unreal status, these Others’s methods and effects mirror that of spy operations (psy-ops). Working from psychologically observable effects to possible causes seems both the most conservative and the richest stance to pursue.

Although varied in form, the spectrum of entities embody similar content/meaning/ends in their human interactions. No amount of conditioning will produce such phantasmal spectacles with predictable success. UAP and related phenomena appear to appear randomly (which, as I said, is what makes them impossible to study), and as long as most scientific organizations refuse to admit their existence there will be a poverty of potentially relevant information surrounding any unusual experience: an analysis of local geomagnetic disturbances, a change in the percipient’s brain chemistry, and, perhaps most implausibly, persons elsewhere in the world who are undergoing another kind of anomalous manifestation at the same time, or even groups of people actively trying to access another realm through occult ritual or meditation.

Such correlations are impossible to achieve; if we could somehow cross-section the world or take a snapshot of everything occurring everywhere in the globe, would we find some correlative supernatural events are transpiring elsewhere during a UAP or apparitional entity encounter?[18] And can we find functional relations between them?

The question is this: Statistically, on any given day or hour, how often do high strange anomalous events occur? And how are we to classify them?

These are impossible statistics to accumulate, but they would seem to be imperative to an understanding of UAPs and their attendant phenomena. Should such a database be established, it could find correlations that yield analyzable material. If scientists don’t even try to establish regularity to the phenomena, we can never get anywhere. Regularity establishes the basis of classification and testing. Researchers like Aime Michel, Vallee, and Keel have attempted analysis of UAP sightings by frequency and location, yielding at least some patterns related to electromagnetic earth disturbances; Keel and Vallee both strongly suggest a relationship between the percipients’ life history, psychological state, and the conditions under which the sightings occurred are the most important aspect of the phenomena. Albert Budden has further discovered deep parallels between electro-hypersensitive persons and UAP activity and personalities prone to “abductions.” I agree with this psychological/health angle, and will follow this lead as basic.

 

A CONCESSION TO THE EPISTEMIC AUTOCRACY: ANECDOTES, DAMNED ANECDOTES!

Cognitive scientists and psychologists claim to have rid themselves from Cartesian dualism and Skinnerian behaviorism, but these ideas have lived a skulking shadow-life in the psychology lab regardless. The structure of neuroscientific practice involves the experimenter’s believing the verbal accounts of a test subject’s experiences that the experimenter correlates with their objective/physical measuring devices. This yields publicly available data for inspection by expert and amateur alike.

What is needed is the third way, the mediation.

To be clear: To prove anomalous beings and phenomena don’t exist is impossible. To prove an anomalous experience changed a person’s outlook on life—including their habits, diet, and even their lifelong maladies, etc.—is proven beyond doubt, in hundreds of cases going back centuries.

Many people take this statement to mean some kind of positive assertion that “ETs” therefore must exist, but we shouldn’t assert this; we should deal with the facts, the possible, and the probable. We first need to bracket the experiences phenomenologically without regard to their physical cause, accept them in the form they are presented, and work backwards.

So all we have left is anecdotes. And from anecdotes we shall have to proceed, using logic and categorization to make sense of them. Anecdotes constituted the greater portion of human knowledge for the past 10,000 years—stories of battles, peoples’ folkways, spirit encounters, fairytales, and gossip. It was only by means of the data-organization techniques generated over the past 5 centuries that patterns could be gleaned from the raw data these stories presented. In our age of corporatized, physicalist science, these folktales of encounters are considered curiosities at best, an irritating form of non-scientific knowledge at worst. Almost always the word “anecdotal” is derogatorily cast upon UAP, NDE and psi studies. They are viewed as collections of mistaken impressions loosely gathered together. Mostly this criticism comes from our popular science boosters and professional debunkers, and not necessarily credentialed scientists themselves. Many of the actual scientists know better; they know that anecdotes are where science can begin, for all collections of anomalies that end in paradigm shifts start off as anecdotes encountered during experimentation or observation. Moreover, radical critics of scientific methodologies hold that the line between experimental conditions and anecdote is artificial; all the preparation (choosing the experiment’s participants, designing the experiment’s conditions, weeding out confounding factors) are just made in order to produce a series of anecdotes (the experimental runs) arranged and stereotyped in a strict way to reveal a certain result. The only difference between a collection of anecdotes and a scientific experiment is that a hypothesis motivates the experiment, a guess at the empirical effects of the hypothesis is made ahead of time, and a result is obtained. Studies function as little more than anecdotes that are used to back the claims of newer studies. The special status of these anecdotes—and why we are prohibited from calling them such—is that their transparency of methods and design supposedly render them replicable by other scientists.

So ahead we’ll go. In Part Two we will examine the rise of the “grey alien” and its “purpose” through witnesses’ experiences and the popular culture. Part Three will approach current theories of neuroscience with regard to quantum phenomena and especially their non-local aspects, leading to the conjectured existence of a field I call the metachoria, in which humanity has co-created from an “imaginal realm” very real experiences and energies that we are just on the edge of understanding. It’s necessary for to delve a bit deeply into some interpretations of quantum experiments and theory and their relation to the brain’s structure in producing—or rather filtering—conscious experience. After that, we will examine the many phenomena associated with dissociative identity disorder, hypnotism, seemingly impossible feats of psychophysical magic, and the holographic universe/implicate order hypotheses. The four of these combined will provide a foundation for the examination of Albert Budden’s theory of electro-hypersensitivity in certain individuals, and the anomalous experiences that can result.

 


[1] Possible exceptions are stringent evaluation of the models used in the cognitive sciences, neurology, and psychology by thinkers such as John Searle, Thomas Nagel, Hubert Dreyfus, David Chalmers, Colin McGinn, Roger Penrose, and Emily and Edward Kelly. On the more radical side, we have the philosophers of science Paul Feyerabend and Thomas Kuhn—which still are institutional critiques.

[2] Evidenced by such thinkers as G.E. Moore, Karl Popper, John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Martha Nussbaum, and Alasdair MacIntyre.

[3] This study will dispense with the terms UFO, flying saucer, and extraterrestrials. In their place I will substitute the “Others” because I don’t think it is useful to draw a hard distinction between the “craft,” the “entities,” their “origin realms,” “technology,” and their effects on percipients. The aberrant experiences should be considered as wholes, both on individual and collective bases. The supposition that these anomalous “presentations” may likely involve a form of “holography” or especially altered states of consciousness in the observer, noted by many investigators, has led me from this group of terms in favor of a singular one. The Others is a term meant to encompass the fact that something unknown and intelligent is interacting with human (and animal) minds. The specific form taken by the “entities” or their “craft” is less important than the fact that an interaction is taking place. As many researchers have noted, a study of folklore and history shows that the Others seem to alter their appearance based upon cultural constraints. This would mean they have an intimate knowledge of our minds, either by “study” or a form of “mind-hacking”—or that they are generated in part by us. But they have interacted with purpose nonetheless. I believe the previous generations of terms used to describe them are something we must condition ourselves to go beyond if any further progress is to be made. One may think this is an even worse nomenclature to use, but it elides the bewildering varieties of beings in favor of, hopefully, a philosophical engagement with something that could turn out to be the most significant in human history.

[4] One variation of this confluence began with Dr. Meade Layne’s “Etherian” hypothesis that was developed through trance medium Mark Probert’s communications with “space intelligences” between 1946-53. See The Coming of the Guardians: An Interpretation of the Flying Saucers as Given from the Other Side of Life, Inner Circle Press, 2009 (originally published 1958). In 1904 & 1918, poet and occultist Aleister Crowley supposedly accomplished “interdimensional” communications and evocations of extraterrestrial beings, one which became his “Holy Guardian Angel.” Crowley’s devotees John W. Parsons and L. Ron Hubbard performed Crowley’s “Babalon Working” ritual in 1946 to “rend the veil” between our realm of Malkuth (in Kabbalistic terms) and that of the Abyss, or Qlippoth (the shattered remains of material unused in Yahweh’s creation); some claim that, through their incompetency, the duo was unable to close this portal, resulting in the entire UAP “demonic invasion.” If nothing else, the coincidence of the dates 1946-1947, when UAP first appeared in vast numbers, and Crowley’s visual descriptions of the beings he contacted are interesting anecdotes.

[5] I am thinking here of the work of Aime Michel, who in the mid-1950s first (and unsuccessfully) submitted UAP sightings in France to statistical and “orthotenic” analysis; of Dr. Jacques Vallee, who did the same but came to embrace past folklore as continuous with UAP mythology and involved psychic factors; Trevor James’s and Brinsley le Poer Trench’s biological “sky people” hypothesis; John Keel, who introduced the world of occult manifestations into the mix by 1970; Dr. Michael Persinger, who attempted to explain experiences by means of electromagnetic interference with the brain’s temporal lobes; and, closer to today, the thorough work of Albert Budden in the 1990s, whose hypothesis we will explore in depth. Apart from Vallee, Keel, Persinger, and Budden there have been no theoreticians of UAP activity whose musings have come close to answering the full spectrum of the mystery.

[6] Many overly-curious investigators have tried to short-cut this problem by utilizing psychic mediums to contact the entities behind the UAP, as we shall see.

[7] In connection with UAP and “cryptids,” no physical evidence, such as an artificially created artifact, has ever passed analytical muster as something possibly from “elsewhere.” We are told about landing marks, drained car batteries, car paint damage, electrical surges that overload a grid, etc. Witnesses suffer burns, nausea, and even death from their encounters. These are obviously signs that something occurred. But no physical object has ever survived scrutiny as proof of an exotic “craft”. Further, I will purposely ignore the claims of dozens of witnesses to “crashed saucers” seen on-site or in secret government hangars, because these claims always lead into the wilderness of mirrors; they are always suspect to hoaxing, a witness’ misidentification of advanced black-budget military tech, or disinformation, simply because the government may want to project a certain narrative. Thus I am foregoing the use of any confirming/disconfirming statements by any government officials, studies, “inside sources,” etc., for the existence of UAP phenomena. These twisted tales have been covered ad nauseam elsewhere. The methods of science are all that is needed to make progress in understanding it. It’s unfortunate but the dis/misinformation techniques used by the government intelligence agencies have so thoroughly muddied the evidence trail regarding the existence of these things as to merit a complete disregard for a serious researcher. Studying the phenomenon and drawing conclusions from available public evidence is not only possible but can yield scientific breakthroughs, though warned against by certain experts.

[8] The latest coming-to-a-debunkers’-message-forum-near-you tool is to classify anomaly-experiencing person as a “schizotypal personality,” which holds, according to the JAMA Psychiatry July 2015 issue, that 1 in 20 people experience random veridical hallucinations at least once in their life; veridical in that they are not recognized as hallucinations as such. The APA has now devised this new classification as a spectrum disorder—a resting-state for humanity, in other words, with each individual falling somewhere within the spectrum. Some persons can even have many hallucinatory experiences while otherwise being completely sane and importantly, productive citizens. And thus, the pathologizing of everyday life, context-free of the hallucinations’ content and precipitating conditions, and in manageable quantificational form, marches on. On the other hand, their tired fallback reasoning for the impossibility of ETs and transdimensionals is deteriorating in the light of contemporary discoveries in quantum physics, nanotechnology, and “reservoir computing.” Recent findings such as the capacity to slow down photons’ velocity in superfrozen mediums, the ongoing research into space-warp or electromagnetic/radiation pulse drives, and the behavior of particles in zero-point energy conditions (absolute zero temperatures, 0 Kelvin, which obtain in open interstellar space) are challenging basic assumptions about the nature of matter and light.

[9] Scientific American article entitled, “Is It Possible to Measure Supernatural or Paranormal Phenomena?”

[10] Computer scientist and ufologist Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck have compiled a historical catalog of aerial anomalies, Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times. The criteria in the ancient world was quite strict to officially record a “prodigy” or “portent” in the sky; most times they were related to earthly events such as the outcome of battles, plagues, coups, etc. before being written down. This criterion held from Rome to China, and was used all the way up to the late Renaissance, but their many reports come from monasteries and lone chroniclers of towns. Vallee and Aubeck were equally strict in their choices; the recorded event had to have properties that defy descriptions of meteorological or astronomical phenomena such as meteors, bolides, temperature inversions, fata morgana, etc.

[11] Reported sightings increase and decrease in number from year to year. There is always a resting state of stigma attached to “close encounters.” In all probability this is a disconnect from what is actually going on; the sightings and close encounters may still be occurring between waves, but the stigma for the witness over going public remains, threatening one’s standing in the community. That reports suddenly begin to appear in great numbers may be a function of social snowball effects: when waves occur, they become undeniable events, whatever their real cause. And many times witnesses come forward during waves with reports of events that happened several years to even decades earlier because a modicum of “social safety” has been established by the welter of percipients revealing their experiences. The stigma is (if only temporarily) loosened.

[12] Like the children’s game “telephone,” noise can overtake and distort an informational signal (the percipient’s tale) when passed through a network, but noise has been found to be quantifiable by the number of participating nodes involved in the signal’s transference. A story told through two degrees’ separation from an eyewitness would not distort the data to a limit that would render useless its information. It depends on the veracity of the nodes. Those who are biologically-related or close friends are within the scope of the first node, with less well-known acquaintances or friends of the close friends in the second, and people within the second degree friends’ connected social groups in the third node. Beyond that, the quality of the signal—the story’s strict adherence to facts—breaks down. As per Claude Shannon’s investigations into what constitutes a signal versus a non-signal (or noise), it was found that a signal degrades into noise over time due to the second law of thermodynamics; entropy can increase over time or over distance (as measured by the number of connection points through which it travels). There is a parallel to this in neuroscience: Valid psychological studies have shown how memory slightly overwrites a recalled experience almost each time it is called up. The anomalous events with which this essay is concerned would obviously have a special place in the memories of the percipients; although they are many times in some kind of altered state of consciousness, their core recollections have been found by investigators to remain stable—which either makes them suspect as real experiences (for how can a real experience not be altered in the repeated recollection) or demonstrates that they actually occurred, having been burned into the person’s mind in a special way.

[13] This is known as the Basic Limiting Principle, as outlined by philosopher C.D. Broad.

[14] Kuhn, Thomas. The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, 3rd Edition, 1996.

 

[15] Many scientists perceive that if there were something to it, teams of experts would already be on the case. They then cite Project Blue Book and the Air Force/CIA investigations as reasons to dismiss the phenomena as solved. But these projects have amply been shown to be whitewashes. An average of 20% of the thousands of sightings were still classified as unexplained in the final reports. Furthermore, the original Air Force investigation, Project Sign (1948) supposedly concluded extraterrestrial craft were the most likely explanation. This “estimate of the situation” was deep-sixed by Air Force General Hoyt Vandenburg and the report destroyed. It is facts like these that scientists need to become aware of. There are literally hundreds of examples like this—a history of prevarication and disinformation in the scientific examination of the UAP phenomenon (which is why I’ve tried to avoid mention of the government in this essay). The reasons why would fill a book. See Richard Dolan’s UFOs and the National Security State: Chronology of a Coverup, 1941-1973, Hampton Roads Publishers, 2002.

[16] The mass media cannot encompass the subtleties of experiencers’ tales either, being fueled on immediate spectacle and the utilitarian, extraverted mindset of our society. In short, anomalous experiences (and especially their aftermath) do not fit the compressive laws of mass media representation. For instance, America heard about the Heaven’s Gate tragedy in 1997 but had no inkling of the cult’s existence or beliefs. One cannot make money off anomaly witness experiences, unless you’re talking about the train of quickly-cancelled Bigfoot/UAP-chasing reality shows featuring “crack” researchers on the trail of physical evidence that never shows up—or fictions such as Twin Peaks or The X-Files, crafted from them because they always already touch a deep mythic impulse.

[17] See the works of Jacques Vallee, J. Allen Hynek, and John Keel. Perhaps in the most famous UAP evidence case, farmer Joe Simonton witnessed a silver disc landing on his property in 1961. The three black-garbed men inside the “craft”, one of them holding a bucket, gestured to him to get some water. Simonton did so and was given three wafers the men were cooking on what appeared to be a grill! They proved to be made of ordinary terrestrial grains. Simonton said they tasted of cardboard. Such a strange story would no doubt garner dismissal from 99% of the population. Yet the sight of a silver disc a few miles away by an independent witness at the same time, and Simonton’s prior and post-experience standing in the local community (“He’d never make up a tall tale, let alone a story like that”) has to this day kept the story in the realm of a “real” UAP entity encounter.

[18] If you perhaps consider conservatively that one in ten experiences makes it to an investigator and one in ten of those reaches print, the Others must be encountered at least once every day somewhere on the planet. And from reading the lot of the collected stories it would seem one might as well watch your own backyard closely instead of the skies, for many of the accounts occur on the ground close to one’s house, while camping, or on a walk and involve “vehicles” tangentially or not at all.

…in which physicalists’ protests against accepting the reality of anomalous experiences demonstrates not a world succumbing to anti-science (as they’d have you believe), but rather their own desperation at the Newtonian worldview’s obsolescence–which is steadily proceeding from within physics itself. In other words, the grounds for explaining people’s anomalous experiences expands by the day, contains elements that are “magical” yet scientifically tractable–and the arch-skeptics don’t like it. Perhaps the most common example of this reality-rupture is the UFO, which we’ll examine in depth.