“Alien abduction” as Shamanic Initiation: The History of a Mystery

Angelcave

Transverberation: The soul being inflamed with the love of God which is interiorly attacked by a Seraph, who pierces it through with a fiery dart. This leaves the soul wounded, which causes it to suffer from the overflowing of divine love.

–St. John of the Cross

“While I was hearing the boys’ confessions on the evening of the 5th [August] I was suddenly terrorized by the sight of a celestial person who presented himself to my mind’s eye. He had in his hand a sort of weapon like a very long sharp-pointed steel blade which seemed to emit fire. At the very instant that I saw all this, I saw that person hurl the weapon into my soul with all his might. I cried out with difficulty and felt I was dying. I asked the boy to leave because I felt ill and no longer had the strength to continue. This agony lasted uninterruptedly until the morning of the 7th. I cannot tell you how much I suffered during this period of anguish. Even my entrails were torn and ruptured by the weapon, and nothing was spared. From that day on I have been mortally wounded. I feel in the depths of my soul a wound that is always open and which causes me continual agony.”

— Letter from St. Padre Pio to Padre Benedetto, Aug. 21, 1918.

————–

“The spirits cook (the shaman’s) flesh to ripen it.”[1]

—————

The “angel” Quazgaa to Betty Andreasson, 1967:

“We prefer our food burnt…by food we mean knowledge, knowledge tried by fire.”[2]

 

HISTORY OF CITATIONS

As the second epigraph indicates, motifs of a celestial or infernal being injuring a “chosen” person that induces ecstatic agonies is not confined to the beliefs of traditional shamanic cultures. Padre Pio (1887-1967) was a Capuchin monk who went on to possess powers of healing, bilocation, levitation, and stigmata. These feats were verified and documented by the stringent Catholic authorities as authentic and he was canonized.

Had he been born in an Amazonian village, the elder shamans would surely have ordained him a powerful curandero.

One current in alien abduction literature links the experiences of the abductees with that of shamanic initiation. No such reverse paralleling—from academic shamanism studies to the abduction experience—has to my knowledge been explicitly made, except for a very short article by UCLA professor Douglass Price-Williams in 1999. Such a connection could only have been made possible after the abduction experience had been reported hundreds of times, and the recurring elements noted; these were enumerated and clarified through the published work of folklorist Thomas Edward Bullard in 1986-87.[3]

When the extraterrestrial explanation dominated the phenomenon in the 1950s-60s it was considered outré to posit any sort of initiatory aspect to the experiences. The alternatives to the “ET visitors” hypothesis were very few. Only English professor and psychic researcher Dr. Meade Layne and his group Borderland Sciences saw “etherian” or interdimensionality as the answer (1946-1956); contactees such as Guy Ballard, George Adamski, and Truman Betherum preached on higher realms and their inhabitants via Theosophical language, but the vehicles they claimed to interact with were strictly made of unearthly metals. Carl Jung (1959) considered the UFOs’ religious and mythic aspects and their effects upon culture, but hedged upon the physicality of the “objects.”

To the hardcore science-minded, any connection to shamanism was not only absurd but unthinkable during that period, because shamanism was still considered a hallmark of the “primitive.” Mircea Eliade published his classic Shamanism: The Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy in French in 1951. It was translated to English a decade later, finding a limited academic audience. The book was a turning point in anthropology, however, because it showed the cross-cultural similarities of techniques and invalidated the reigning conception of shamans as “insane persons mistaken for supernaturally gifted sorcerers by traditional peoples.”

It was only when the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) got jostled aside somewhat by the occult and paranormal angles of John Keel and Jacques Vallée in the 1970s that a family resemblance between “spirits” and “apparitions” and UFOs became discernable, and that was because these two investigators insisted on a more fine-grained examination of the witnesses’ lives and all the aspects of their experiences, no matter how absurd-seeming those experiences were. The ETH advocates concentrated on the “vehicle” descriptions and, once their reports were finalized in print, threw away the psychological effects on witnesses as noise-creating nonsense that was dirtying up their narrative. Keel and Vallée, however, uncovered psychic experiences including telepathy, psychokinesis, precognition, and effects on electrical devices. Vallée zeroed in on these phenomena throughout the 1970s and 80s, convincing preeminent expert J. Allen Hynek to cease ignoring the “high strange” encounters and surrounding aftereffects; Hynek, the world’s leading UFO expert, came to accept there was far more than metals to the manifestations. In addition, from the late 1960s onward, hypnotic regression came to be used in recovering “missing time” episodes associated with UFOs, led by University of Wyoming psychologist Dr. Leo Sprinkle.

But it required the “epidemic” of abduction reports 1980-1998 to bring clear symbolic meaning—and a narrative—to this aspect of the UFO mystery. By 1998, the surface parallels with shamanic initiation became undeniable. As far as I can tell, this is its timeline in the literature:

 

–While examining Native American nature spirit stories in their 1975 book The Unidentified Loren Coleman and Jerome Clark quote Eliade’s Shamanism on “little green men” who are often shamanic guardians of the Western Plateau and Northern California nations.[4] This mention is made in general relation to fairy lore and the global mythologies of small spirits.

 

–Australian researcher Bill Chalker writes an article in 1977 on the similarities between Aborigine shaman initiations and certain abduction features. This was somewhat prescient because the Betty Andreasson account (published 1979), considered the most detailed and “initiatory” encounter, had yet to be made public.

 

–British author John Rimmer concludes his 1984 The Evidence for Alien Abductions with a short discussion of shamanism with regard to abductions as mystical experiences that change the percipients into vegans, prophets, message-bearers, or healers. Apparently he drew the parallels on his own, without having read Chalker’s essay (although he cites Coleman and Clark’s The Unidentified in the bibliography).[5]

 

–Two of British researcher Hilary Evans’s books, in 1984 and 1987, reference shamanism in the context of otherworldly apparitions and UFO beings, but again, only in passing and without elaboration.[6]

 

Whitley Strieber’s 1987 Communion poses some problems. I don’t think Strieber mentions shamanism in the book, but his entire narrative amounts to an orgy of either synchronicities with or parallels with the “archaic techniques” of initiation. Several times during his encounters he feels as if his very existence as a person is dissolving, and he is subjected to intensely painful “operations” involving needles and other devices. Sexually-tinged emotions involving a “female” being similar to those of shamans with their “celestial wives” is hinted at in Communion, then made more explicit in the rest of his autobiographical books, especially 2016’s Super Natural.

 

–In 1988’s Abduction, Jenny Randles mentions in passing Bill Chalker’s study of parallels with Aboriginal myths and practices.[7]

 

–1989, the American folklorist Thomas E. Bullard publishes an article about UFO abduction reports entitled “The Supernatural Kidnap Narrative Returns in Technological Guise,” which claims “These accounts share many motifs with legends of supernatural encounters and otherworldly journeys.”[8] As noted above, this otherworld-journey aspect had long been a current in the UFO puzzle since Vallee published Passport to Magonia in 1969. As Vallee, John Keel, and Bullard were contending, otherworldly snatchings-away that involved nighttime encounters with lights, a sexual component, and transformation of the percipient have been occurring since the Neolithic period. Many times fairy encounters of the British Isles in particular involved the bestowal of “second sight” upon the percipient, allowing them interaction with the “Fair Folk” and then becoming a “wise woman” or “wise man,” that is, a community healer: the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of a shaman.

 

–Bill Chalker publishes another article in 1990 equating the two experiences.[9] He quotes from anthropologists Spencer and Gillen’s “The Northern Tribes of Central Australia” (1904), an excerpt from which we will examine below.
–By 1990, Harvard Medical School psychiatry professor John Mack informs Near-Death Experience researcher Dr. Kenneth Ring about the parallels between NDEs and certain aspects of the abduction experience. Ring had already noted the similarities between NDE experiences and shamanic initiatory ordeals (NDEs often have disturbing, transformative psychological and social aftermaths). Ring works with his graduate students on what he calls the Omega Project to determine what kind of person undergoes NDEs and abduction experiences. He finds that they seem to exhibit moderate-to-severe PTSD, possess fantasy-prone personalities, high abilities for creative visualization, ease in hypnotic dissociation, and increased psychic abilities such as telepathy, psychokinesis, and sometimes field effects that disrupt electronic devices. Most importantly, he also notes these same personality traits in anthropological and psychological studies of shamans.[10]

Angelsaliens

Keith Thompson’s great 1991 book Angels and Aliens popularizes the awareness of these “archaic” parallels growing within certain factions of the experiencer research community.[11] Thompson must have been following Kenneth Ring’s Omega Project NDE/abduction research as it was being undertaken, because the book was published the year the project wrapped up and mentions it. Angels and Aliens explicitly mentions an abduction connection to both shamanism and near death experiences on pages 88-89, and Thompson excoriates UFO investigators in failing to perceive the obvious parallels with archaic initiation and other seemingly “irrelevant nonsense” such as fairy abductions, the importance of which Jacques Vallée had clearly outlined two decades earlier.

Michael Talbot’s The Holographic Universe (1991) mentions Otherworldly beings such as fairies, Bigfoot, and “UFOnauts.” Given the book’s overall thesis that we perceive only a narrow band of sensible “vibrations,” he stops just short of declaring that anomalous things are part of a multiverse that our minds naturally filter out but can, at times, with the proper disinhibiting stimuli, see and interact with. He claims the entities may be part of an “omnijective” world, neither subjective nor objective. This is a clearer version of John Keel’s “superspectrum” hypothesis of the late 1960s. He brings up Ring’s work with NDE survivors, out-of-body experiencers, and their shamanic parallels and, like Thompson, mentions Ring’s (then) just-funded Omega project to make a comparative study on the three subjects.[12]

–With Kenneth Ring’s 1992 book The Omega Project appears the first apparent iteration of the “imaginal realm” hypothesis, which is similar to Talbot’s omnijective universe: that these beings and experiences occur in neither purely physical nor mental space, but a third “realm” that contains independently existing visions as well as receives those conjured up by people in states of concentration. This idea is taken from Sufi scholar Henri Corbin’s study of Sufi practices of visualization used to access the heavenly realms.

Similar practices to the Sufis’s are ancient. For instance, Hebrew Kabbalistic meditations and ritual exegesis on Pardes, Pantajali’s Yoga sutras of the 1st century, and Tibetan tantric visualizations (the creation of tulpas) all involve entering a realm of energy in which concentrated thoughts can either produce phantasms that achieve independent activity, or allow the mind/astral body access to a “parallel universe.” These roughly correspond to a shamanic otherworldly journey. The esoteric form of Kalachakra tantric practice, which is considered the most strenuous—and potentially dangerous[13]—way of achieving enlightenment involves celibacy, fasting, purifications, prostrations, prayers, and prodigious daily mantra recitation. It is essentially an extended series of rituals to achieve the type of expanded consciousness that shamans experience and use in their healing ceremonies. Thus the transformative aspects of both abductions and NDEs conceivably tie in with traditional mystical experiences—and become a part of New Age thinking.

–1994 is probably the high point for abduction-related publications. For five years, Dr. John Mack has worked with hundreds of “abductees” and is helping them accept their “ontologically shattering” memories, dreams, and experiences. He publishes Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens in 1994.[14] Mack points out that the “vibratory chaos” some experiencers feel (and as Whitley Strieber vividly described in Communion) as they are transported into the round rooms of the “ships” mirrors in contemporary terms the dismemberment phase of shamanic induction.

Jim Schnabel’s 1994 book Dark White gives a summary of shamanic initiation, from the Siberian Buryat and Australian native traditions via quotes from Joseph Campbell and ethnologist Holger Kalweit. Schnabel emphasizes the transformative aspects of abductions and the idea of objects (usually crystals) being implanted in the shaman during the initiation that turn up in a technological guise in abduction reports as “implants” in the brain, ears, nose, calves, or behind the eyes.[15]

–The same year, in his book Grand Illusions, Gregory Little tells the story of Red Plume’s spirit quest at the Big Horn Great Medicine Wheel in Wyoming in 1800.[16] Red Plume was of the Crow Nation. For four days he fasted, prayed, and suffered the cold inside the cairn at the center of the Wheel. During his initiation he met four small spirits who brought him into their subterranean world beneath the mountain. He was shown a vision of a red eagle and his soul became airborne. He awoke outside the wheel with a red eagle feather. During his subsequent purification at the sweat lodge he told the Crow elders of his experience and was given the name Red Plume. Little goes on to enumerate other aspects of the “little people” spirits of the Crow and other nations, pointing out that they all consider the “dwarves” dangerous if spontaneously encountered but benign if sought out for legitimate medicine or knowledge-seeking motivations. The beings are intimately connected to the Medicine Wheel and certain rocks in the landscape, and are essentially the same helpers Coleman and Clark mentioned in 1975 by way of Mircea Eliade. Throughout the book, Little also analyzes the ancient mounds that cover the American continent and believes they are potent and exploitable sources of electromagnetic energies that First Nations medicine people used to communicate with the spirits. Little’s book is the first to connect up “spirit” abductions, shamanism, and EM anomalies to the high strangeness of some UFO encounters. His conclusion on what UFOs are is a variant of the psychic energy/electromagnetism exposure hypothesis put forward by Paul Deveraux and expanded during this same early 1990s period by Albert Budden.

–On the last page of his unique 1994 study Gifts of the Gods? researcher John Spencer mentions the shamanic parallel to one British “abductee” in particular, Elsie Oakensen, who became a psychic spiritual healer as a result of a UFO encounter and the missing time period associated with it.[17]

Harpur

Patrick Harpur publishes the monumental and influential work Daimonic Reality in 1995. His treatment of the abductee-shamanic initiation parallel is the deepest yet, embedded within a hypothesis that all “supernatural” encounters occur in an imaginal realm neither fully physical or fully mental—an idea, as we saw above, with a long pedigree in mysticism. He calls it the daimonic Otherworld. Following Jung and James Hillman, he connects up the “paranormal” as aspects of the world-soul that are, for lack of a better term, exteriorized synchronicities of psychic/emotional states. The idea is very subtle.

–UFO-obsessed billionaire Robert Bigelow creates the National Institute for Discovery Sciences in 1995, mainly to investigate the paranormal goings-on at the Gorman ranch in Utah, which he’d bought. Centuries ago, the Spanish taught the Ute people horsemanship and pressed the Navajo into slavery, and some Ute warriors engaged in an attempted genocide against the Navajo during the Civil War. In retaliation, according to the Ute, Navajo shamans placed a curse upon them that would last down the generations—a free roaming demonic being that occupied a wide swath of their lands in Utah: “the path of the Skinwalker.” Accounts at the Gorman ranch of strange animals impervious to bullets, apparitions, unexplained lights and electrical anomalies, cattle mutilations, and poltergeist activity compelled some NIDS researchers to consider these as manifestations of the legendary evil spirit. Bigelow funded many other UFO-related projects during this period, one of them being a 1999 paper by UCLA anthropology professor Douglass Price-Williams on Shamanism and UFO Abductions.[18] (Jacques Vallee also thanks Price-Williams in his 1990 book Confrontations, so he had been involved in the UFO/folklore field for some time previous to Bigelow’s commission).

–Dr. John Mack publishes Passport to the Cosmos (1999/2011).[19] Mack interviews three shamans who have interacted with the beings known as the greys, the “reptiles,” and other alien beings. The Zulu sangoma leader Vusumazulu Credo Mutwa claims a brutal initiation by the greys, who he calls the mantindane, and continuing sexual abuse by them in several abductions. To Mutwa, the greys are vampiric demons that are at the same time a part of humanity and symbolic of our future. Conversely, he encountered benign small blue beings who helped educate him when he was young,[20] and “Nordic” appearing entities who also taught him.[21] Bernardo Peixoto was born into the Uru-e Wau-Wau community near the Brazil-Venezuelan border. Their name means “people from the stars” and they trace their knowledge of agriculture to a race that arrived in a sky vehicle long ago.[22] In 1995, Peixoto encountered three “grey-like” creatures on the Irunduba River.[23] For hours he seemed in a trance as he followed them in a state of disorientation. In the aftermath he felt psychically shattered, yet eventually a healing power entered him and he became devoted to unifying the diverse traditional peoples of Brazil against the corporate destruction of the Amazon. Third, Mack interviews activist Sequoyah Trueblood and points out the Lakota and Cherokee belief that they are descendants of people from the Pleiades.[24]

Simon Brian Harvey-Wilson publishes the monograph thesis paper Shamanism and Alien Abductions: A Comparative Study in 2000. He notes that those UFO and abduction researchers who take the largest possible cultural-historical view of the phenomenon usually come to endorse the shamanic parallels. His own research involves interviews with 11 abductees from one of Mary Rodwell’s support groups.

Supernathancock

Graham Hancock’s 2007 book Supernatural: The Ancient Teachers of Mankind[25] ties together these many strands, and solely addresses the shamanic aspects of abductions, fairy encounters,[26] and DMT experiences. He focuses on the “spirit teachers” angle by way of Jeremy Narby’s thesis in The Cosmic Serpent. In that work, Narby claims DMT/ayahuasca/psilocybin placed human consciousness in direct relation to Otherworldly beings who taught the peoples of central and South America on a molecular level about the pharmacopeia their jungle surroundings contained. In other words, the Quecha, Aztec, and Mayan shamans symbolically learned the language of DNA and how this “serpent” inhabits every living thing. DNA is the vast communication system of a single organism. Hancock rejects the ET hypothesis and instead speculates on the release of endogenous DMT as the cause of alien abductions—but recent studies have shown that the pineal gland, which secretes the alkaloid in the brain, cannot ever produce enough of it to cause the entheogenic effects because it is synthesized too quickly.

– 2013: The History Channel’s “Ancient Aliens,” in its idiotically reductive bid to explain most of the products of human genius as extraterrestrial intervention, gives us “The Shamans” in season six. The less said about this one the better.

-During the 1980s through the 2000s, philosopher Terence McKenna lectures on the similarities between shamanic otherworld consciousness and UFO experiences in many interviews and talks.

-In their 2016 collaboration, religion scholar Jeffrey Kripal and Whitley Strieber attempt to contextualize Strieber’s many strange experiences in Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained. Kripal runs through the shamanic parallels explicitly on pages 191-97, focusing on Strieber’s ear “implant,” which he has refused to remove, as emblematic of the traditional crystals that Siberian and Australian shamans have had placed into their “new” bodies during initiation.

So what in fact are the parallels? How does the evidence for this claim come together?

Skyboat

SHAMANIC INITIATION

Viewed from this angle, any “sickness-vocation” fills the role of an initiation; for the sufferings it brings on correspond to initiatory tortures, the psychic isolation of “the elected” is the counterpart to the isolation and ritual solitude of initiation ceremonies, and the imminence of death felt by the sick man (pain, unconsciousness, etc.) recalls the symbolic death represented in almost all initiation ceremonies.[27]

–Mircea Eliade

According to Eliade there are two primary ways a shaman is chosen: through hereditary profession or through extreme illness. The shaman’s actual initiation usually begins with a life-threatening physical episode, “psychotic” break, or extreme depressive episode.[28] The ancestral spirits and clan’s shamans may then visit the young person while in the delirium. The illness has induced a loss of soul, or a detachment of the astral body (soul) from the physical body. Whether “astral/spiritual” or physical, this body is then deconstructed, pulverized, and reassembled anew.

The ancestral spirits/shamans perform this work. The candidate is then led to a celestial or infernal place (sometimes both) to be taught by the master shaman-spirits. A totem animal appears and the young candidate associates with it (this may be the primordial form of the “witch’s familiar”). The animal’s spirit and the candidate’s become one. We should note that abduction researchers never tire of mentioning the animal forms—particularly owls (via Strieber’s Communion) and deer (via Virginia Horton’s experience in Budd Hopkins’s Missing Time [1981])—that are consciously associated with the kidnappings or function as unconscious “screen memories,” produced by the mind, to mask the traumatic appearance of the aliens.[29]

Eliade notes that some Yakut (Siberian) shamans have reported that their bones are scraped of flesh and tied or boiled together with iron.[30] J. Cowan (1992) writes of Australian Aborigine shamans being shown global cataclysms during their initiations.[31] Rock crystals, mostly quartz, are introduced into the shaman’s body in such diverse cultures as the Semang of the Malay peninsula, the Cabeno of South America, and the Aranda, Utmatjera, and Wotjobaluk of Australia.[32] Ioan Couliano describes how both African and Australian shamans gain power from a “rainbow serpent” that protects sacred healing crystals that are given during initiation.[33] Here’s an example from Bill Chalker’s 1990 article, quoting anthropologists Spencer and Gillen’s “The Northern Tribes of Central Australia” (1904):

An aborigine, Kurkutji, was set upon by two spirits, Mundadji and Munkaninji, in a cave: “Mundadji cut him open, right down the middle line, took out all of his insides and exchanged them for those of himself, which he placed in the body of Kurkutji. At the same time he put a number of sacred stones in his body.

After it was all over, the youngest spirit, Munkaninji, came up and restored him to life, told him that he was now a medicine-man and showed him how to extract bones and other forms of evil magic out of them. Then he took him away up into the sky and brought him down to earth close to his own camp, where he heard the natives mourning for him, thinking that he was dead.

For a long time he remained in a more or less dazed condition, but gradually he recovered and the natives knew that he had been made into a medicine-man. When he operates the spirit Mukaninji is supposed to be near at hand watching him, unseen of course by ordinary people.”

The last paragraph in particular pertains to many repeat abductees: they reports feelings of anticipation when they “know” an incident is going to occur in the near future, or sense they are being constantly monitored either by implant or telepathically by the aliens. The beings become, in a sense, “spirit guides.” Many believe that they have been permanently changed mentally, emotionally, and spiritually by their encounters—and the beings play on ongoing role in this evolution of their personal humanity. Sometimes during the period of abduction, the experiencer appears asleep or in a trance to other people; the observers may experience something strange in the environment, but the experiencer does not depart the area.[34] This implies a sort of “astral body travel” to an otherworld, just like the shaman. Often times this is achieved for the shaman via a silver or “fiery” cord that extrudes from the stomach, belly button, solar plexus, or head.[35] The shaman becomes entranced and uses this cord to climb to the heavens or spin a web on which to travel to view distant events.[36] There are a few reports of such cords in abduction literature.

Shamans are called wounded healers in part because their consciousness is only halfway “in consensus reality” due to the personality dissociation induced by their traumatic initiation—which is considered to them a gift and not a liability. Second, they consciously relive their traumatic initiation as a part of their skill to self-induce trance (but without the abreactive adjustment that heals a “crippled psyche,” as our psychotherapy would have it). A third meaning is that they have sacrificed a normal life in the clan in order to occupy their liminal office; a fourth aspect is that they literally injure themselves in the course of their medico-spiritual treatments of people through fasting, bloodletting, conscious pain induction via self-harm with needles, spikes, or arrows, and massive drug intake, all in order to enter the trance in which they commune with their spirit masters and animal guides.[37]

CAVES AND NAVES

Cavepainting

The traditions of using a cave for ritual sensory deprivation, spirit journeys, and symbolic rebirth continued from the Paleolithic well into recorded history, especially with the Greek practices of iatromancy or “sleep cures” at the night temples of Asclepius and Apollo. These were natural caves around which a temple had been built. Here the patient becomes, in a sense, a deputized shaman and charged with using their daimon-intermediaries to discover their own treatment. Climbing into the confined dark space of the caves, and perhaps with the use of either psychotropic or sedative herbs, the sick person has visions or dreams of messages in symbolic form delivered by their daimon (or perhaps even the healing gods Asclepius or Apollo). Upon exiting the cave they would approach the priest for the vision’s interpretation and then be given a course of appropriate medicines for the cure. The parallels to shamanic practice and oracular clairvoyance are obvious.

The cave has always been one of the most powerfully symbolic of places, evoking both the chthonic “womb of earth” from which all life came, the maternal womb, and a representation the celestial vault of the nighttime heaven to which we may rise in the afterlife. Most archaeologists and paleoanthropologists agree that shamans used the famous Chauvet, Lascaux, Coliboaia, and Altamira painted caves of 18-38,000 years ago for rituals and possibly for initiations.

CONTEMPORARY OTHERWORLD EXPERIENCERS

As we’ve noted from the anthropological literature, the non-hereditary candidate suffers the following events in the calling and course of initiation:

-Illness/Mental symptoms of uncontrolled “fantasy” or psychosis

-Spontaneous entrancement due to illness/psychosis

-Paralysis/catalepsy

-Dismemberment by spirit beings

-Reassembly by spirit beings

-Learning from elder shaman spirits

-Gradual reintegration of self & into society, with conversion to a healing profession, including

For a hereditary shaman candidate these same events occur, but the psychosis/entrancement are induced through some form of controlled, ritual fasting, breathing, dancing, drug-taking, chanting, drumming, or other methods and under the supervision of an elder shaman. Usually a vision-quest is required in which the candidate must remain alone in a cave or in the wilderness for a time until the requisite spirits contact them, as in Red Plume’s experience above.

As to the life-transformative aspects of abduction experiences, there’s no better example than what happened to the “Avis” (Day) family. In the 1974 Aveley, England encounter, John Day and his family saw a UFO and encountered a glowing green fog that interfered with their car while traveling home at night. The radio sparked, the car vibrated, they felt very cold, and it became silent as they passed through it. Three hours were found to be missing when they arrived home. In the experience’s immediate aftermath (and three years prior to hypnotic regression), John abruptly gave up a three-pack a day cigarette habit; the family (except one child of three) gave up eating meat; the parents became teetotalers; the child Kevin, formerly lagging in his studies, became an exemplary student; John quit his job but eventually obtained sought-after employment working with the handicapped; Elaine went back to college and became a confident artist; the couple became very concerned with environmental and health issues. There was also poltergeist-like activity in their house for several years, and both parents had recurring dreams of ugly, gnome-like beings around John as he lay upon a table.

Avisabduc

John was hypnotized in 1977. He remembered a bright beam of light hitting the car as they entered the green mist. He found himself in a big room where three tall beings in one-piece colorless suits with balaclava-like headgear examined him. They possessed cloudy, pink eyes. Only one communicated with him telepathically. They told him not to worry about his children. They ran a “honeycombed” wand-like instrument over his body. A small, furry being was also present; it made chirping sounds and seemed the helper to the tall beings. He asked where they came from; they showed him “a map but not a map”, and gave an explanation of which he could remember only the word “Phobos,” which “meant nothing to (John)” but is, of course, one of Mars’s moons. Asked why they were here, they told him it didn’t matter because they were always here, and had “more than one base.” Their propulsion system used a magnetic “vortex.” John felt he was prevented from saying any more.

Before John and Elaine’s hypnotic regression in 1977, all of them traced their life changes to their encounter with the green mist that night. The intervention of an “otherworldly force,” whatever it was, had a profound effect on the entire family. The UFO, fog, and three hours’ missing time were clues that something extraordinary occurred, although beyond conscious memory, but whatever it was, it had spiritual results in their lives.

This transformation, whether sudden (like the Day family’s) or gradual, has been documented in hundreds of abduction cases.[38] The list of parallels to shamanic initiation in the abduction literature is so long that I will just touch on a few. Most prominent are the sensations undergone at the abduction outset, in which “disassembly” by blue or blue-white “light” occurs as one passes through walls or roofs to the “craft.” Sometimes it is done via a thin or thick beam from the UFO above or outside the house/car. This seems to echo the “silver cord” or web-strand the shaman uses to climb the rope of heaven. Many repeat abductees report invasive “medical procedures” by the alien beings. These can include surgical operations, healings (curing of terminal and non-life-threatening diseases),[39] psychological “tests,” induced pregnancies, subsequent removal of implanted embryos or fetuses, and subjection to pain-threshold levels that have no discernable function. Psychotherapist Dr. Edith Fiore reported operations upon both body and the head during abductions by half a dozen of her hypnotized subjects.[40] In one, crystals were placed into the skull of an abductee, and the subject was “flayed” and their cancer removed.[41] Yet another was told she would become a healer as a result of the aliens’ interventions.[42] John Mack’s patient Karin experienced the removal and replacement of her heart.[43] Abductee Sandy Larson, in a famous 1976 case, had her brain “removed” and replaced during her experience.[44] Betty Andreasson had an eye removed to have an implant placed in her brain, and had objects placed in her spine.[45] Amy, one of the women interviewed at length for Karla Turner’s book Taken, speaks of an otherworldly council influencing Amy’s life from a young age. She was shown how to levitate objects, affect electrical equipment, and move through solid objects.[46] The chart Turner displays on pages 215-22 of Taken shows common aspects of the experiences the eight women she interviewed had undergone in dreams or altered states of consciousness: Five reported head surgery of some kind, three a “nasal implant,” five an “ear implant,” six a “spirit-body separation,” six a teaching session, four sexual activity, three witnessed surgery performed on another human present, and four seemed to be in an “underground city.” There are also many dozens of reports of persons experiencing a “download” cascade of information into their consciousness that some believe effects the spiritual transformation they eventually undergo.[47] Others think this overload is either a psychological test, or a preparation for eventual “activation” as agents of the “aliens” when a world cataclysm is to happen in the future.[48]

Caves or cave-like structures appear many times in abduction reports.[49] By the early 1990s, cave-abductions became explicitly present in the literature; many dozens of experiencers recounted being taken to caverns where hundreds of other humans were supposedly seen—as well as human military and medical “collaborators” with the “aliens.”[50] These subterranean spaces are represented either as tunneled bases built directly into the bedrock or a series of structures (and strange craft) inside a hangar-like cavern. Abductees undergo the same medical procedures as in the round rooms within the “vehicles” in these caverns.

Writers such as Colin Wilson, Graham Hancock, and John Mack have pointed out the similarities between those who undergo out-of-body experiences and the shaman’s trip to the heaven/upper world and underworld—the ability to “fly” to obtain information on behalf of their querents or ill persons, whose souls the shaman must retrieve. Many people who are adept at inducing OBEs (“astral projection”) report being very ill at some point when young. Sylvan Muldoon, who wrote two books on the subject, was sickly as a child and had his first OBE at age eleven.[51] In Holger Kalweit’s Dreamtime and Inner Space, he notes many OBE and consequent spirit journey experiences undergone by various shamans occurred while these individuals were either extremely ill or (by witnesses’ accounts) dead, in coma, or a cataleptic state. As noted above, in many instances a cord, rope, or web-strand attached to the belly button, the fontanel, or the back of the neck is mentioned that guides the spirit back to the body. [52] The shamans consider these illnesses transformative, as we’ve noted, allowing them to experience the interconnection between the spiritual and material worlds.

In many shamanic cultures, a spirit may seduce or even rape the candidate and become a “sky-wife” or “sky-husband” to them.[53] During hypnotic regression, the entranced experiencer very often speaks of already knowing the sequence of events and the (alien) beings. Sometimes they say that they even “love” these beings. Some abductees call the “leader” being (with whom they claim to be the most familiar) either their “soul mate,” or a part of their soul.[54] Whitley Strieber speculatively discusses this idea in Communion. For abductees, this phenomenon usually occurs in those who have a history of interactions going back to early childhood, but is initially remembered during the recall of a recent experience. Does this bond exist because there are in fact multiple unrecalled events that occurred earlier in their lives? Or do abductees feel this during hypnosis because they are trying to normalize, in any way possible, the beings’ appearance to lessen their shock at (re-)experiencing it? In other words, is there an emotional reversal (enantiodromia, as Jung called it) from terror to love due to the unconscious realization that these beings are a “missing” or “unacknowledged” part of humanity’s psyche, but experienced for them as a personal relationship for the abductee? For the shaman, the cosmic pairing with a spirit spouse is many times inevitable and done with great reluctance. It is the same with abductees; many are highly ambivalent about their emotional attachment to the beings.[55] For abductee-turned-researcher Karla Turner, these inappropriate moments amount to a form of induced Stockholm Syndrome (via the practice of “love-bombing” that most cults perform on a target individual) and are probably achieved by means of stimulating the limbic system and inducing an overwhelming dopamine cascade.

LIGHTNING SHAMANS

Candidacy in the Siberian cultures may involve lightning strikes or being hit by “stones from the sky.”[56] Holger Kalweit speaks of “lightning shamans,” and devotes a chapter of his book to those individuals who became shamans due to direct or close-by lightning strikes.[57] The shock may have produced in them the state of electro-hypersensitivity and its consequent array of allergic pathologies. Hypothetically this would manifest by the person’s reactions to fluctuations in the earth’s ambient electromagnetic field due to seismic faultlines and their resultant earthlights (piezoelectric phenomena), ionization of the atmosphere before storms, ball lightning, etc. Magnetized rocks and meteorites attract metals, and seem to defy the normal physical world; EM anomalies in the landscape could thus affect these individuals also. Persons deeply sensitized to electromagnetic fields may enter trance spontaneously and further be able to produce unconscious or even conscious psychokinetic effects by way of these EM “hot spots.”[58]

Lightning strikes are a minority in the spectrum of initiatory sicknesses the shaman undergoes. But these two phenomena reflect those that accompany poltergeists. Emotionally disturbed young people have been found to be the “focus” in many poltergeist “infestations,” so it makes sense that a young person entering puberty,[59] which is when these initiatory sicknesses or calls usually occur in traditional societies, could unconsciously manifest the “psychic stress overload” through environmental and electrical PK effects, marking them as potential shamans.[60] Eliade points out that in many cultures sickly or eccentric or withdrawn youths are singled out as candidates if there is no hereditary shamanism present in the society.[61] Are these kids born allergy-prone, or come to possess weakened immune systems due to malnutrition?

AN ELECTROMAGNETIC FIELD CONNECTION?

Electromagnetic atmospheric phenomena must have inspired fear and reverence in early humankind—lightning foremost, of course, but also ball and bead lightning, plasmas, and static fields. What would early humanity have made of will-o-the-wisps or long-lived forms of ball lightning rolling across the landscape and darting into the sky? Or the shimmering curtains of plasma formations that covered the sky during solar coronal mass ejections that happened to strike the planet? From what we now know of these rare phenomena, and how dangerous they can be, humans in the Paleolithic and before who came close to earthbound energies most certainly were injured in both short and long-term ways, or even killed by them. The manifestations’ seemingly purposeful movement probably led to belief that they were living beings.

Did we interact with these energies—or perhaps the shamans even learn to control them?

Entopticchart

In Supernatural, Graham Hancock discusses at length the figures in prehistoric rock art that are depicted pierced multiple times with arrows, spears, or needles. These figures are commonly believed to be shamans. He puts forward the hypothesis that these depict “pins and needles” sensations the shamans experienced as the product of drug-induced trance—but these sensations could just as easily be nervous system reactions to intense EM fields, the kinds with which we are all familiar when we are accidentally shocked. Static electricity of course galvanizes the skin, and in very strong amounts can cause prickling sensations. Strong EM fields can disrupt the temporal lobes, causing hallucinations in all the senses. Further, many of the vividly colored entoptic visual disruptions that he compares to some cave drawings easily have mundane causes, such as scotoma (painless migraines that present jagged visual auras), epilepsy, and the precedent to full migraine attacks.

Piercedman

In two underrated books, British researcher Albert Budden explored the electro-hypersensitivity hypothesis with regard to abductions, and found plausible explanations for both the major and minor components of the experiences. What is important with regard to his hypothesis is the physical and symbolic sicknesses undergone by shaman and experiencer both. The EHS sufferer is physically endangered by their immune system reactions, and for Budden the “aliens” or “apparitions” are a form of warning system generated by the unconscious (or “universal intelligence” as he calls it) during altered states of consciousness that these overlapping ambient/anthropogenic electrical fields are harmful to them. Secondary abduction phenomena that Budden ingeniously explains by this hypothesis are: a sudden or gradual dampening of sound in the immediate vicinity; a humming, hissing, or throbbing sound heard just as the experience commences (both which are symptomatic of temporal lobe stimulation by EM currents); very high-pitched noises similar to tinnitus; a series of loud clicking or popping sounds (which Budden explains could be the heating/expansion of tiny bones in the ear canal reacting to the sufferer’s lowered resistance to microwaves); the “crunching sound” many have reported in the nose or brain while an “implant” is placed up the nostril (EM-stimulated magnetite motes that have been deposited over a long period in the upper nasal passages); depersonalized or out-of-body sensations (temporal lobe disruption); and the small patterned burns, scars, “scoop marks,” and bruises, which could be caused by psychophysical action upon the body while in a dissociative state of consciousness (the abduction experience) brought on by an electromagnetic field overload.

In his book Daimonic Reality, Patrick Harpur points out the shaman-abductee parallels in the case of the famous experiencer Debbie Jordan-Kauble, who was weakened by multiple illnesses at an early age.[62] Budden mentions Jordan-Kauble’s poor health in connection to electro-hypersensitivity as a direct cause of her subsequent “alien” experiences and her ability to affect electrical devices.[63]

Along with and sometimes preceding the aural disturbance, a blue-white light is many times seen at the abduction’s onset. Is this the perception of an fast strobe light, which obviously might be able to induce trance or seizures in persons? Such stimulation might also account for the feeling of one’s “vibrations’ increasing” during the opening of the event and passage through a window into the “room” where the experience occurs. San and Australian shamans report going into highly energetic trance in which the silver fire “ropes” carry them into the realm of the spirits high in the sky.

Sundrysynchronicities

SUNDRY SYNCHRONICITIES AND THE TRANCEFORMATION OF ONE’S LIFE

We have seen that one of the commonest forms of the future shaman’s election is in encountering at divine or semi-divine being, who appears to him through a dream, a sickness, or some other circumstance, tells him that he has been “chosen,” and incites him henceforth to follow a new rule of life.[64]

The appearance of a bird, especially an eagle, is interpreted as a sign of shamanic vocation.[65] Eagle is the “father of shamans” in many cultures.[66]

The world tree also figures in shamanic journeying as the source of powers. Eliade mentions the belief that the eggs hanging upon the world tree contain eagles that are actually the spirits of future shamans.[67] Some of John Mack’s experiencer patients reported eagles and other “power animals” during their abductions.[68] We already noted the animal spirit with whom the shaman binds themself and the “screen memories” of strange animals. Betty Andreasson is a deeply religious Christian, yet her first recalled abduction vision contained a pagan psychodrama from antiquity of a death/rebirth mytheme involving the shamanic animal, the eagle/phoenix.[69]

In Supernatural, Graham Hancock points out the parallel visions of the shamanic “eggs on the world tree” and the high-tech “baby nurseries” many experiencers have reported: A “wall” of amniotic sacs within cylinders or cube-shaped containers containing hybrid alien-human fetuses.[70] I don’t believe Hancock is stretching in emphasizing this similarity. One could also make the case that the column sometimes seen in the center of the “ship’s engine room” also serves the same function as a treetrunk-like symbol of power.[71] Abductee Charles Moody described the “engine” as three strut-joined half-eggs that contained diamond crystals inside them.[72]

Eliade mentions that the spirits “count the bones” of the resurrected shaman before their teaching procedures begin.[73] There are many reports of the “alien beings” touching and counting the abductees’ ribs to “see if it’s okay.” The beings never explain the mysterious procedure.

The famous Mazatec curandera Maria Sabina, who had taken psilocybin mushrooms thousands of times since age 11 in her career as a shaman, was illiterate yet absorbed the contents of a book given to her by a spirit. She received a “download,” as experiencers like to say, of an enormous amount of information about the other worlds and healing.[74] Maria was not allowed to keep the book, which “belonged in the sky”—just like the fates of the books given to Betty Hill and Betty Andreasson during their abductions.[75] The “angel” Quazgaa gave Andreasson a “blue book” in her 1967 experience whose at first blank but luminous pages contained information that at some point she was to remember. This is a universal motif (at some point in the relationships) when dealing with “higher intelligences”; Joseph Smith, occultist and founder of the Latter Day Saints, was given a special scrying/reading crystal in order to decipher the angelic language on the golden tablets the angel Moroni had shown him, which became the Book of Mormon. The tablets were given back to the being.

Mongolian shaman

THE OUTSIDER

The shaman or prophet assumes a statusless status, external to the secular social structure, which gives him the right to criticize all structure-bound personae in terms of a moral order binding on all.[76]

–Victor Turner (1969)

This “right to criticize” applied to the “space brother prophets” of the 1950s such as George Adamski (who condemned our society’s violence, our misconceived notions about time, and inability to perceive the “oneness of everything”), but equally to some abductees who have found a calling in healing professions considered marginal to mainstream medicine that involve clairvoyant or empathetic skills. Anthropologist Turner emphasized the idea of liminality, in both the shaman/experiencer’s “chosenness” and initiation by spirits and their eventual social status that results from embracing it as a reality. In the case of the shaman they are elevated in status, but in the abductee’s case it is a lowering of social status in the general community—but perhaps raising it within the boundaries of the experiencer community. Whether these initiation events occur in a “physical reality” or psychic space, their effect on the individual is the same. Socially, there is a parallel between the liminal status of the shaman in society and the “repeat experiencer.” Abductees for the most part have been shunned or denigrated by mainstream science in the same manner as ethnographers and anthropologists once dismissed shamans and even their entire tribes as irrational degenerates. Plato’s parable of the cave may be considered a shamanic myth, and its point is not unlike what the abductee claims to experience. For shaman, mystic, and experiencer, who have had Plato’s allegorical “experience of the sun,” scorn pours out onto those who stay content before the cave wall’s shadows.

Just as the shamanic vocation is considered hereditary in many cultures, some abductees and investigators are convinced the experiences run in families, as if a bloodline were being followed or manipulated over generations.[77]

Since our culture doesn’t properly ritualize the transition to puberty and adulthood as in traditional societies, there is no structure or vocabulary for the children in the “developed” world to contextualize or describe Other experiences. Their experiences, no matter their age, are “infantilized.” This “infantilization” equally applies to criticisms of adult experiencers by the overculture; debunkers relegate their memories and events to repressed childhood traumas, “birth memories,” and the sleep paralysis/“night hag” phenomenon. Young children have their imaginary companions and are eventually taught to separate this function of their mind from the real world. Those who are experiencers, however, describe the utter reality of the “weird looking” child companions they once had (especially their night visitors) and how their parents disbelieved their trips to rooms the sky where they played with both other normal children and the “strange” ones.[78]

THE EVER-TENTATIVE CONCLUSION

When we jettison the high tech trappings and examine the form of these experiences, they contain all manner of “traditional paranormality”: astral travel/OBEs, NDE-like passages, poltergeist activity, psychokinesis, telepathy, clairvoyance, “spirit meetings.” Both contemporary hereditary shamans and the “Western” individuals who have had otherworldly experiences via, say, Michael Harner’s shaman workshops do not report UFOs, aliens, or abduction experiences in their journeys.[79] For them, their shamanic experiences still involve spirits, power animals, and the traditional imagery that accompanies it. As Graham Hancock points out, Dr. Rick Strassman’s legal and public experiments with pure DMT induced in a large number of its participants the elements of abduction imagery: greys, insect-like sentient creatures, round rooms, examination tables, etc. but the subjects were simply reclining on a hospital bed when these veridical experiences occurred. Their minds entered another space.

Since shamanic initiation and abductions are only similar but not identical in form or result (many persons, after all, don’t have transformative life changes associated with abductions) and “traditional” shamanic experiences still occur without the high tech trappings we must conclude that whatever force(s) is behind the UFO phenomenon is somehow aping the vocabulary of the shamanic experience (or causing the human mind to create a symbolic shamanic-like experience). Are the results similar? We must conclude with a qualified yes: in the short term the person experiences John Mack’s “ontological shock.” Their world-views are disrupted and often turned upside down. In the long term, some are given a type of “second sight” in line with the cunning folk/Celtic shamans whose powers were often induced by fairy encounters: they continue to have interactions with non-human intelligences.


[1] Schnabel, Jim. Dark White: Aliens, Abductions, and the UFO Obsession, Penguin Books Ltd, 1995, pg. 139, quoting Holger Kalweit’s Dreamtime and Inner Space: The World of the Shaman, Shambhala Publications, 1988.

[2] Fowler, Raymond. The Andreasson Affair: The True Story of a Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind, New Page Books, 2014, pg. 35.

[3] Bullard, Thomas E., UFO Abductions: The Measure of a Mystery, 2 Vols., FUFOR, Mt. Rainier, MD, 1987.

[4] Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren, The Unidentified and Creatures of the Outer Edge, Anomalist Books, 2006, reprint from 1975, pg. 65.

[5] Rimmer, John, The Evidence for Alien Abductions, Thorsons Publishing, 1984, 138-43.

[6] Evans, Hilary, Visions Apparitions Alien Visitors: A Comparative Study of the Enigma, Aquarian Press, 1984; 235-36; Gods, Spirits, Cosmic Guardians: A Comparative Study of the Encounter Experience, HarperCollins, 1988. 41, 237.

[7] Randle, Jenny, Abduction, Guild Books, 1988. 33-34.

[8] The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. 102, No. 404 (Apr. – Jun., 1989), pp. 147-170.

[10] Ring, Kenneth, The Omega Project: Near-Death Experiences, UFO Encounters, and Mind-at-Large, William Morrow & Co., 1992. 64-65, 85, 92, 108, 218-19, 234;

[11] Thompson, Keith, Angels and Aliens: UFOs and the Mythic Imagination, Ballantine Books, 1993. 154-58, 188, 232.

[12] Talbot, Michael. The Holographic Universe, Harper Perennial, 1991, 276-285.

[13] That is, through strenuous disciplines that awaken the energy coiled at the base of the spine, it is meant to wipe out the karmic accretions one has accumulated over many lifetimes within a finite time-period. For the improperly initiated or novice this can have devastating emotional and mental effects. The full Kalachakra cycle includes confronting heavenly and hellish beings which the monk or nun eventually subdues in order to use the beings’ powers towards achieving nirvana; these entities are considered aspects of the initiate’s own “compounded” illusory existence, but stripped of personal attributes; in other words, they are transpersonal or archetypal representations of cognitive-emotional states of being. Whether “imaginal” or energetically real, conquering them and utilizing their existential energy towards liberation is the goal of the initiate.

[14] Mack, John E. Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens, Scribner, 1994.

[15] Schnabel (1995), 136-39

[16] Little, Gregory L. Grand Illusions: The Spectral Reality Lying Behind Sexual UFO Abductions, Crashed Saucers, Afterlife Experiences, Sacred Ancient Ritual Sites & Other Enigmas, Eagle Wing Books, 1994.

[17] Spencer, John. Gifts of the Gods?: Are UFOs Alien Visitors or Psychic Phenomena? Virgin Publishers, 1995.

[19] Mack, John. Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters, Three Rivers Press, 2011.

[20] Mack (2011), 203.

[21] Mack (2011), 208.

[22] Mack (2011), 169.

[23] Incidentally, this location is 900 miles west at the exact latitude as the 1977-84 events Jacques Vallee writes about in his book Confrontations. During that period glowing orbs and “flying buses” were shooting “beams” that killed, sickened, and burned many night hunters and villagers in northern Brazil. The area was so remote that medical intervention was minimal to none during this “wave.” Vallee personally traveled to the isolated area in 1990 to interview the witnesses and victims. See Confrontations: A Scientist’s Search for Alien Contact, Anomalist Books, 2008, pgs. 124-39, 200-226.

[24] Mack (2011), 181.

[25] Hancock, Graham, Supernatural: Meetings with the Ancient Teachers of Mankind, Disinformation Books, 2007.

[26] Hancock (2007), 161-66.

[27] Eliade, pg. 33.

[28] It is interesting to note that many persons become writers, artists, or scientists due to prolonged illness in youth by which they either have a consciousness-changing experience, or they use their long convalescence to develop a hobby that becomes a lifelong passion.

[29] See Mike Clelland’s The Messengers: Owls, Synchronicity, and the UFO Abductee, Richard Dolan Press, 2015; Vallee, Jacques. Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers, Daily Grail Publishing, 2014, pg. 58; Hopkins (1987), 91-92, 100; Strieber (1987), 21-22, 116-17, 145, 298-300; Mack (2011), 152-157, 295; Smith, Yvonne (2008), 116-17, 138-49, 144-47; Anglin, Elizabeth. Experience: Memoirs of an Abducted Childhood, Vol. 1, Sacred Peak Press, 2014, pgs. 38-42; Hopkins and Rainey (2004), 230-38; Turner, Karla. Into the Fringe: A True Story of Alien Abduction, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014, pgs. 84, 124-43 (the latter is an extended account of a shared hallucinatory episode at a real cabin with “screen memory” elements to it); Hough and Kalman, (1997), pgs. 78-80; Wilson, Colin, Alien Dawn: An Investigation into the Contact Experience, Fromm International, 1998, pg. 7; Boylan (1994), 115.

[30] Eliade, 36. There is a long tradition in the British Isles that fairies cannot abide the presence and even sound of iron (such as a bell). Could we thus speculate that fairies as known by the Celtic Anglo culture and the master shaman spirits, whether celestial or infernal, are not the same beings as the fee?

[31] Cowan, J. Mysteries of the Dream Time, Woollahra, NSW, Unity Press, 1992. Quoted by Harvey-Wilson, Simon Brian. Shamanism and Alien Abductions: A Comparative Study, Edith Cowan University, 2000, pg. 51.

[32] Eliade, pgs. 45-52.

[33] Couliano, I.P. Out of this World: Otherworldly Journeys from Gilgamesh to Albert Einstein, Shambhala Publications, 1991, pgs. 44-45.

[34] See Watts, Barry, UFOs Down Under: Australasian Encounters, Barry Watts Publications, 2017, for the case of Maureen Puddy, who was abducted “astrally” in the presence of two other people; Turner, Karla, Masquerade of Angels,

[35] Kalweit (1988), 48-51; Wilson, Colin. Mysteries: An Investigation into the Occult, the Paranormal, and the Supernatural, Watkins Publishing, 2006, 377-78; Hancock (2007), 126-31.

[36] Couliano (1991), 44.

[37] Kalweit,

[38] See Mack, John, 1994 & 2011; Boylan, Richard J. Close Extraterrestrial Encounters: Positive Experiences with Mysterious Visitors, Wild Flower Press, 1994, 36-46, 157-69; Rutkowski, Chris A. Abductions and Aliens: What’s Really Going On, Durdurn, 1999, 212-28; Randles, Jenny (1984), 83-84; Strieber (1989), 73-77;

[39] Dennett, Preston, and Dennett, Christine. UFO Healings: True Accounts of People Healed by Extraterrestrials, Wild Flower Press, 1996.

[40] Fiore, Edith. Encounters: A Psychologist Reveals Case Studies of Abductions by Extraterrestrials, Doubleday, 1989, 121-23

[41] Fiore (1989), 89-91.

[42] Fiore (1989), 96.

[43] Mack (2011), 142.

[44] Lorenzen, Coral and Jim. Abducted! Confrontations with Beings from Outer Space, Berkley Publishing, 1977, 63.

[45] Fowler, Raymond. The Andreasson Affair Phase Two: The Continuing Investigation of a Woman’s Abduction by Alien Beings, Prentice Hall Trade, 1982, 137-46.

[46] Turner (1994), 176-77.

[47] This is a fairly “routine” experience when a person encounters “UFOnauts,” from the contactee phenomenon of the early 1950s right up to the present day. See Bullard, Thomas E. (2010), 214; Strieber (1987), 119; Randles (1984), 103; Mack (1994), 224, 243; Mack (2011), 94-98; Ring (1992), 51; Hough, Peter and Kalman, Moyshe. The Truth About Alien Abductions, Sterling Publishing Company, 1997, pg. 111; Swords, Michael. Grassroots UFOs: Case Reports from the Center for UFOs Studies, Anomalist Books, 2005, pgs. 94-95; Turner (2013), 39, 173; Marden and Stoner, (2013), 212; Jacobs (1993), 197; Fiore (1989), 162, 182-83; Harpur, Patrick. Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld, Pine Winds Press, 2003, pgs. 184-85; Thompson, Richard L. Alien Identities: Ancient Insights into the Modern UFO Phenomenon, Govardhan Hill Publisher, 1995, pgs. 126-27; Smith, 158-65 (“induced” visions of plans for an engine).

[48] Jacobs, David. The Threat, (1999), 236; Strieber (1987), 252, 265-66; Mack (2011), 93-119,

[49] Hancock (2007), 131-132.

[50] See Mack (2011), Fowler (2014), The Watchers by Raymond Fowler (1990), The Watchers II, Fowler (1995), Taken by Karla Turner (1994), Lost was the Key by Leah Haley (1995), Reaching for Reality by Constance Clear (1999).

[51] Wilson (2006), 377-78.

[52] Kalweit, Holger, Dreamtime and Inner Space: The World of the Shaman, Shambhala Press, 1988, 48-51.

[53] Eliade (1974), 73, 76-77, 79, 133, 168, 344, 381, 421; Hancock (2007), 150-60; 188-92.

[54] Mack (1994), Boylan (1994), 69, 87, 89.

[55] In traditional Celtic lore, fairies may entrance, kidnap, and rape humans. This can produce hybrid children, whom Graham Hancock (amongst others) believes may be the changelings who are placed in substitution of stolen human children. That’s one possibility; the other is that the changelings are “pure-bred” but deformed fairy children. Yet there are also innumerable tales of humans falling in love with a fairy, whether the humans are “glamoured” or of their own will. These “marriages” often result in children who have great difficulty living in either world. Sometimes the human has been given the “second sight” to perceive fairies and their world prior to these couplings—and also become healers by fairy tutoring. See Hancock (2007), 177-81; 192-203 for the changeling-hybrid enigma.

[56] Eliade, pgs. 19, 32, 55.

[57] Kalweit, Holger, Shamans, Healers, and Medicine Men. Shambhala Books, 2000.

[58] See Shallis, Michael. The Electric Connection: Its Effects on Mind and Body, New Amsterdam Books, 1998.

[59] Eliade, 26.

[60] Heath, Pamela Rae. The PK Zone: A Cross-Cultural Review of Psychokinesis (PK), iUniverse, 2003, 167-69; Wilson, Colin, Poltergeist! A Study in Destructive Haunting, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1982, 158-60, 262, 361-62; Rogo, D. Scott, Mind Over Matter: The Case for Psychokinesis, Thorsons, 1986, 84-87; Shallis, Michael. The Electric Connection: Its Effects on Mind and Body, New Amsterdam Books, 1998, 194, 207.

[61] Eliade, 24-26.

[62] Harpur, Patrick. Daimonic Reality: A Field Guide to the Otherworld, Pine Winds Press, 2003, (1995), 235-36.

[63] Budden Albert. Psychic Close Encounters, Blandford Books, 1999, 145-46, 179.

[64] Eliade, 67.

[65] Eliade, 69.

[66] Eliade (1974), 69, 128, 160.

[67] Eliade, 70.

[68] Mack (2011), 149 for eagle; 148-152.

[69] Fowler (2015), 102-05.

[70] Hancock (2007), 160-64.

[71] Lorenzen and Lorenzen (1977), 47-49; Fowler (1982), Andreasson,

[72] Lorenzen, (1977), 48-49.

[73] Eliade, 42.

[74] This experience is also similar to the angel “transmissions” the mystic polymath Emanuel Swedenborg claimed in a trance to have received and by which he said angels regularly telepathically communicated.

[75] Hancock (2007), 142-44.

[76] Turner, Victor (1969) 116–17, quoted in Hansen, George P. The Trickster and the Paranormal, Xlibris Corp, 2001, 86.

[77] See the work of Budd Hopkins, David Jacobs, John Mack, Karla Turner, Yvonne Smith, Richard Boylan.

[78] See Hopkins (1987) 299-300; Strieber (1987), 216-22; Mack (1994), 23, 27; 116; Bullard (2010) (a psychosocial comparison with folklore), 197-200; Clark, Jerome, The UFO Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon from the Beginning, 2 Vols., Omnigraphics Inc., 1998, 6.

[79] See Harner, Michael. The Way of the Shaman, HarperOne, 1990, and Cave and Cosmos: Shamanic Encounters with Another Reality, North Atlantic, 2013.

Parmenides/Poimandres, “Alien” Messages and Mysticism

People from Elsewhere have always come to humanity bearing messages.

Sometimes their messages are symbolic, acted out like psychodramas. Sometimes they are epigrammatic, and at other times they exhibit a torrent of verbiage that would exhaust the best Talmud scholar. 

We are not alone, say most cosmologists and astrophysicists. The numbers are against it. But even if in the unlikely case we are “alone” evolutionarily in this universe, we still aren’t alone. There are Others, and from time to time they actually talk to us.

As John Keel once observed, if they’re extraterrestrials then they’re using the syntax of ceremonial magic and the vocabulary of apparitions to contact us–and that of mysticism, which can either enlighten or mystify, depending on the discerning consciousness

PARMENIDES & THE GODDESS

Parmenides of Elea was born roughly 515 BCE and died at an unknown date. Founder of the Eleatic School, he and his disciples profoundly influenced the technique of logical deduction in Plato and Aristotle’s work. Parmenides’s disciple Zeno’s ideas about motion and time-measurement, which result in paradoxes, still puzzle minds to this day.

According to Peter Kingsley, Parmenides became a priest of the sleep temples of Apollo at Elea and presided over a quasi-shamanic “revival” movement that betrayed the true nature of Apollo as a chthonic deity, not necessarily the solar one as received history has it. Prophecy has always been associated with Apollo–and its source as truth in Parmenides’s career originated in his spirit journey poem. 

Parmenides’s only surviving work is called On the Nature of Things. It takes the first-person form, and is composed of a preface followed by a revelatory vision of Truth by a Goddess (taken to be Persephone, who is always associated with the Underworld), then contrasts this vision with humanity’s “mere opinions” in its last part.

Only fragments of the poem remain, but most of the Goddess’ revelation section has been preserved. Additional supplementation has been gleaned from later philosophers’ discussions, mostly Plato and Aristotle, in which they give précis of Parmenides’s arguments or by actually using his syllogistic argument forms.

At the poem’s beginning a young male protagonist is taken into a chariot with a shining axle that spins. He meets “glowing maidens of the sun” who guide the vehicle’s mares into a subterranean area where a stone door opens.

Inside he meets the Goddess, who imparts to him eternal wisdom. Here are some samples of that philosophy:

Thinking and the thought that it is are the same; for you will not find thinking apart from what is, in relation to which it is uttered. (B 8.34–36)

For to be aware and to be are the same. (B 3)

It is necessary to speak and to think what is; for being is, but nothing is not. (B 6.1–2)

Helplessness guides the wandering thought in their breasts; they are carried along deaf and blind alike, dazed, beasts without judgment, convinced that to be and not to be are the same and not the same, and that the road of all things is a backward-turning one. (B 6.5–9)

The last quote is a tough one, but is taken to mean that people consider the states of existence and non-existence to be absolutely different, whether the states of life/death, an incremental process of extinction, or the notion that something that will be at a “future” time but now is not is self-contradictory. Non-existence, as such, is not something that can even be conceived of.

If the radical ontological condition “non-existence” cannot have either existence in an ordinary sense qua individual instances or a existence as a kind of (non)being—a concept with a referent —then all the gradations between the individual, the part and the whole, are also impossible.

The “backward turning” is a crude reference, I believe, to the process of entropy as conceived by our limited human minds as we remember how things once seemed to be, but are now not. That is, any difference between the present and the past is an illusion qua the awakened mind. But we are asleep and ignorant; the illusory differences are what we notice and take as real. The following backs this interpretation:

How could what is perish? How could it have come to be? For if it came into being, it is not; nor is it if ever it is going to be. Thus coming into being is extinguished, and destruction unknown. (B 8.20–22, my emphasis)

Nor was [it] once, nor will [it] be, since [it] is, now, all together, / One, continuous; for what coming-to-be of it will you seek? / In what way, whence, did [it] grow?

Neither from what-is-not shall I allow / You to say or think; for it is not to be said or thought / That [it] is not. And what need could have impelled it to grow / Later or sooner, if it began from nothing? Thus [it] must either be completely or not at all. (B 8.5–11)

[What exists] is now, all at once, one and continuous… Nor is it divisible, since it is all alike; nor is there any more or less of it in one place which might prevent it from holding together, but all is full of what is. (B 8.5–6, 8.22–24)

And it is all one to me / Where I am to begin; for I shall return there again. (B 5)

This is a radical vision of reality unlike anything the Greeks or the Western ancient world had encountered, and is as cogent an attempt to rationally explain or convey the sense of a mystical experience as anything any person has ever written. When one considers a philosophy of “timeless Forms,” it is no wonder that Plato was deeply influenced by Parmenides’s vision of Oneness and Being.

Parmenides’s Goddess’ notions are absolutely monist, but the type of monism is very difficult to pin down: it denies dualism in principle, so an idealism/physicalism split cannot exist within it. Given an ontology of pure physicalism or pure idealism, Her denial of time, space, and differing identity would hold given the premisses of either viewpoint. She allows that the One that exists eternally beyond all change is comprehensible to humanity, but this implies that a mind in ignorance of the One, either before experiencing the oneness or after experiencing the oneness, would at least be possible.

Yet the possible is impossible, because anything that can be thought, is—except that something not be.

But as we see, Parmenides’s vision differs from that of other mystics in that the Goddess supplies him with logical propositions that when subjected to further analysis result in paradoxes, revealing a limit to what the human mind can sensorily comprehend.

Our only recourse seems to be to embrace Her form of absolute monism: since nothing cannot be, therefore everything that can possibly exist, already does exist. It is simply our feeble human minds that cannot perceive this, through ignorance and limiting factors. There cannot be something that is now that was not before, or will come to be but does not exist now, therefore change—and time—cannot exist. “Becoming” is thus an illusion. The “present” presupposes division—a past preceding it, and a future proceeding or forerunning it—therefore it, also, cannot exist. All is one and everything, and for “all time.”

Parmenides’s ending doxa section on humanity’s flawed sense-formed impressions is almost entirely lost, unfortunately.

——

These metaphysical gymnastics would have no rival in their power to “deconstruct” our sense-perception of reality until the sutras Buddhist philosopher Nagarjuna propagated in the non-dualist madhyamaka “no mind, no self” doctrine in 2nd century CE India—who also, legend says, received his teachings from a supernatural source, the Nagas (snake-deities)

Throughout the history of “mysticism” we encounter people who describe very similar ineffable truths that lie “outside linear space-time.” Some try to describe it in terms of the “ethereal fluid” of light, the One, the Ungrund (Godhead), etc.

In 1600, at age 25, Lusatian cobbler Jakob Boehme had a vision while staring enraptured at sunlight hitting the edge of a pewter dish. He then walked out into his garden while “information” flowed into his mind, the “secrets of creation.” The experience was so ineffable he never spoke of it, until ten years later when a similar vision overtook him. Two years after this he wrote Aurora, and, encouraged by friends, published it. He went on to write a further ten books elaborating his vision of the importance of Seven and the Trinity to Christian ontology, echoing the philosophy of Pythagoras as to the “numerical” underpinnings of physical reality. Further, his works were flavored with pagan astrological-alchemical elements, such as the sevenfold planetary metals, their qualities, and the resultant “worlds” under which humanity was conditioned. This shows the influence of Paracelsus and Gnosticism by way of other Neoplatonic mystics, whom Boehme read while young. Boehme’s views on the origin of sin and redemption conflicted with accepted Calvinist-Lutheran theology and he found himself several times in the hot seat. His views on evolutionary principles based upon triads, the necessity of evil and its conquering to produce a higher reconciliation would influence G.W.F. Hegel’s elaborate view of history.

American “electro-alchemist” Cyrus Teed (1839-1908), who also described an encounter with a goddess during an experiment with electricity, claimed to have directly experienced Oneness and the idea that all matter is merely “frozen” energy decades before Einstein mathematically formulated it. Had he been a physicist, perhaps he could have put the discovery into equation form.

These mystical revelations are what Aldous Huxley called the “Perennial Philosophy.” All peoples in every era will rediscover it, as long as humans exist. As religion scholar Richard Smoley puts it in his book on Gnosticism:

Swami Vivekananda, the Hindu sage who brought the tradition of Advaita Vedanta to the West at the end of the 19th century, put it this way in a 1896 lecture: “He (the Atman, or Self), the One, vibrates more quickly than the mind, who attains more speed than the mind can ever attain, who leaving gods whom even the gods reach not, nor thought grasps—He moving, everything moves. In Him all exists. He is moving; he is also immovable. He is near and He is far. He is inside everything, he is outside every-thing—interpenetrating everything. Whoever sees in every being that same Atman, and whoever sees everything in that Atman, he never goes far from that Atman. When a man sees all life and the whole universe in this Atman,… There is no more delusion and for him. Where is any more misery for him who sees the Oneness in the universe?”

Elsewhere Vivekananda defines this principle as “Pure Consciousness.” Christ in the Gospel of Thomas alludes to a similar truth: “It is I who am the light which is above them all. It is I who am the All. From Me did the All come forth, and unto Me did the All extend. Split a piece of wood, and I am there. Lift up the stone, and you will find me there” (Thomas, 77).

Again, in a literal sense this utterance is nonsensical. If you hack a piece of wood apart, you’re not going to find a tiny Jesus hiding inside. In all likelihood Christ is not speaking of himself either personally or theologically. He is speaking of this primordial mind or consciousness, which is that in us—and in all things—which says “I am.” Although rocks and stones are not conscious beings as we are, to some degree this primal awareness dwells in them also.[1]

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THE POIMANDRES

The incidence of spirit journeys goes back to the beginnings of history and probably far before. Perhaps one of the most famous is the poetic tract Poimandres, meaning “knowledge of Re” or Ra, or in some early translations the “Man-Shepherd,” which was a part of the Corpus Hermeticum translated from Greek into Latin by Marsilio Ficino in 1460s Florence. Its provenance was suspected as a forgery in the 16th century, then the work was rehabilitated by the discovery of 3rd and 4th century Gnostic scriptures referencing it. Traditionally, its author is supposed to be Hermes Trismegistus—the “Thrice-Great Hermes,” an Egyptian mystic priest and the most learned philosopher of the ancient world. The poem begins,

It chanced once on a time my mind was meditating on the things that are, my thought was raised to a great height, the senses of my body being held back—just as men who are weighed down with sleep after a fill of food, or from fatigue of body.

The narrator’s description of bodily suspension/paralysis is very similar to that of the classic astral journey of an out-of-body experience—or the beginning a contemporary UAP abduction. After ascending, Hermes meets a vast being calling itself the “Man-Shepherd” who requests him to ask a question. Trismegistus boldly requests knowledge of everything, including God. Hermes is shown the Man-Shepherd transforming itself into a vision of unending light, then the primordial separation and union of the elements:[2]

[Thereon] out of the Light […] a Holy Word (Logos) descended on that Nature. And upwards to the height from the Moist Nature leaped forth pure Fire; light was it, swift and active too.

The Air, too, being light, followed after the Fire; from out of the Earth-and-Water rising up to Fire so that it seemed to hang therefrom.

But Earth-and-Water stayed so mingled with each other, that Earth from Water no one could discern. Yet were they moved to hear by reason of the Spirit-Word (Logos) pervading them.

Hermes admits he doesn’t understand the vision. The Man-Shepherd replies that he, Poimandres, is the light, and mind, and logos (reason/intelligibility) that organizes all the elements. Mind is the Father-God; Poimandres exhorts Hermes to befriend the light and says by the marriage of Logos and Mind all things arise.

Then the being gives the narrator a penetrating, frightening stare.

Poimandres explains that God as Mind is both female and male brought forth another mind to birth form as seven rulers. This the traditional way of speaking of the seven governors or “archons,” the planets, who bind each human with the constraining spiritual and physical forces that create our fates. The narrator observes form uprushing to meet Formative Nature, and an equal movement of nature downward into spiritless matter:

Then the Formative Mind ([at-one] with Reason), he who surrounds the spheres and spins them with his whorl, set turning his formations, and let them turn from a beginning boundless unto an endless end. For that the circulation of these [spheres] begins where it doth end, as Mind doth will.

So in addition to the upward-downward axis of Mind and Matter interpenetrating all things, Poimandres shows Hermes spinning action or vortices as a fundamental principle to creation. This exegesis conforms to many other visions of creation. Then comes this:

But All-Father Mind, being Life and Light, did bring forth Man co-equal to Himself, with whom He fell in love, as being His own child; for he was beautiful beyond compare, the Image of his Sire. In very truth, God fell in love with his own Form; and on him did bestow all of His own formations.

         This passage would cause immediate split between Orthodox Christians and “pagans” or heretics—despite Luke 17:21, where Jesus proclaims God’s kingdom “is inside us all” (King James version). For some Gnostic schools and certainly Hermeticism, this passage would be a founding principle: God and Humanity are co-equal and reflect each other. But the raising of humanity only comes with the Great Work on oneself. This connection is made by means of what the narrator describes as the Enformer—or In-former, also referred to as God’s “Brother.” Apparently the Brother is a God-Mind-created demiurge that acts as mediator. Just as God falls in love with humanity, humanity asks to be In-formed with God, and it is granted. Thus humanity originally had the same powers as the seven rulers, and “broke through” the membranes of “downward Nature’s forms.” It is implied then that the archetypal human had powers equal to God’s at the level of Nature. Nature, under the aspect of the element of water, falls in love with this “God-Man” and they become lovers. Humanity now has a dual-aspect.

And this is why beyond all creatures on the earth man is twofold; mortal because of body, but because of the essential man immortal.

Though deathless and possessed of sway over all, yet doth he suffer as a mortal doth, subject to Fate.

Thus though above the Harmony, within the Harmony he hath become a slave. Though male-female, as from a Father male-female, and though he is sleepless from a sleepless [Sire], yet is he overcome [by sleep].

So the human is subject to the seven rulers’ influence, being composed of matter. Humanity sleeps; we are ignorant of this double-nature, and the immortal part that is its essence.

Nature embraced by Man brought forth a wonder, oh so wonderful. For as he had the nature of the Concord of the Seven, who, as I said to thee, [were made] of Fire and Spirit – Nature delayed not, but immediately brought forth seven “men”, in correspondence with the natures of the Seven, male-female and moving in the air.

         The human form, via Nature, “brings forth” seven aspects, each ostensibly mirrors or seeds of the seven governors. These are called Aeons, syzygies, or pairs equaling fourteen that the Valentinian Gnostics of the 1st-2nd Centuries claimed are the constraining forces the demiurge placed upon humanity. The goddess Sophia is considered the fifteenth, who could here in the Poimandres text be considered Nature itself as midwife to the “Brother” through which God-Mind created humanity.

But I recorded in my heart Man-Shepherd’s benefaction, and with my every hope fulfilled more than rejoiced. For body’s sleep became the soul’s awakening, and closing of the eyes – true vision, pregnant with Good my silence, and the utterance of my word (logos) begetting of good things.

All this befell me from my Mind, that is Man-Shepherd, Word (Logos) of all masterhood, by whom being God-inspired I came unto the Plain of Truth. Wherefore with all my soul and strength thanksgiving give I unto Father-God.

The tract ends with a prayer. As he says, Hermes’s tranquillized/paralyzed body allowed the mind to expand and experience direct contact with Poimandres.

UAP ENTITY MESSAGES

The spiritual message of Parmenides, the writer(s) of Poimandres, and mystic visions are echoed by those spoken by UAP entities, especially the messages received by the so-called contactees of the 1950-60s. Since many of the latter have been suspected of fraud, we will concentrate instead upon the messages imparted to mediums/channelers, the “abducted,” and those who meet a “stranger” claiming to be from elsewhere—especially reports pre-1980 when the “greys” and their messages began to dominate the narratives. Most of the time, the Nordic-type of stranger gave these messages, but other creatures with a basic human appearance[3] also impart the same information:

Time doesn’t exist as we conceive it;

All is “one;”

Love is a universal principle that is creative in nature;

The untapped power of the human mind can make physical space travel unnecessary, or similarly, our vastly misguided understanding of space/time, were it corrected, would make interstellar space travel as easy as “thinking it;”

The vast majority of humanity is willfully blind to these universal truths.

The contactee/abductee is chosen because of their openness to these messages. Frequently they are told they are special and have a mission to perform in spreading the gospel.[4]

Some scholars believe Parmenides may actually have experienced such a spirit journey or vision-quest as a young man, and chose to present his revelation to the world in the contemporary iambic form. Whether he dreamt the vision, experienced an entheogenic state induced by a drug, or by way of his daemon doesn’t really matter; it is the poem form in which he presented it and his message’s content that is important to us.

But its opening section contains a few elements that are curiously resonant with imagery gleaned from “alien abduction” tales.

I have come across no mention of the Poimandres or Parmenides’s poem in relation to UAP and any contactee or abduction analysis literature. Although countless spirit journey stories exist in folklore and have been extensively examined, Parmenides’s ancient encounter and its aftermath (the founding of an enormously influential “Western” mystical philosophical school) has not yet been scrutinized in the light of it being a possible “alien” encounter. As I said, the evidence is scanty, comprising just the details in the prefatory section, and may seem ridiculous in comparison at first consideration:

The steeds that bear me carried me as far as ever my heart Desired, since they brought me and set me on the renowned Way of the goddess, who with her own hands conducts the man who knows through all things. On what way was I borne
along; for on it did the wise steeds carry me, drawing my car, and maidens showed the way. And the axle, glowing in the socket -for it was urged round by the whirling wheels at each end – gave forth a sound as of a pipe, when the daughters of the Sun, hasting to convey me into the light, threw back their veils from off their faces and left the abode of Night.
There are the gates of the ways of Night and Day, fitted above with a lintel and below with a threshold of stone. They themselves, high in the air, are closed by mighty doors, and Avenging Justice keeps the keys that open them. Her did the maidens entreat with gentle words and skillfully persuade to unfasten without demur the bolted bars from the gates.
Then, when the doors were thrown back, they disclosed a wide opening, when their brazen hinges swung backwards in the sockets fastened with rivets and nails. Straight through them, on the broad way, did the maidens guide the horses and the car, and the goddess greeted me kindly, and took my right hand in hers, and spake to me these words: –
Welcome, noble youth, that comest to my abode on the car…

Parmenides is certainly abducted by the maidens. The chariot-vehicle makes a piping or humming sound. The axle “glows in its socket,” powered by spinning wheels. Why does he give these particular details of the chariot’s and gates’ appearance? They must have been awe-inspiring (although the “gates” are most likely, symbolically, the two heavenly “doors” of Summer and Winter, when the sun ceases its seasonal rebound at the two solstices, traditionally associated with the constellations Cancer and Capricorn). In the priesthoods of several ancient Mediterranean cultures, these two celestial cessations/boundaries were considered the portals of souls into life and into the afterlife. They were available for kings to become “immortal amongst the stars.”

The maidens open these doors so Parmenides can enter a spaceless, timeless dimension where the Goddess awaits him.

I’ll let the reader decide how close contemporary abduction scenarios match Parmenides’s description, in at least a cursory way. The account, however, also echoes the hekhalot or “chariot ascent/descent” literature of the 1st century BCE-2nd century ACE Qumranites and subsequent Kabbalist traditions, which are almost entirely based upon Ezekiel’s visions of the “burning” chariots/thrones and four angelic beings that guided the prophet to heaven. Since Parmenides’s poem has roughly been dated 485-475 BCE, it postdates the writing of Ezekiel’s vision, which may have had an influence upon it, but precedes the Jewish mystical literature that involves a supernatural chariot.

The effect of Parmenides’s vision upon his life and subsequent career as a philosopher, lawgiver, and school founder is echoed in the experiences of “extraterrestrial” contactees and abductees; near-death experiences (NDEs) and some entheogenic substances also cause profound changes in consciousness regarding spacetime as illusory.

Parmenides was profoundly changed by the vision/experience and became a proselytizer. In addition to this effect, a monist philosophy very similar to Parmenides’s, in which human conceptions of space and time are declared “wrong,” is the most frequently preached material by the “space brothers” and the many-types of “alien” beings experiencers encounter. The shape of the existing poem fragments and our limited knowledge of the philosopher’s life can make only the barest outlines of a connection possible. Perhaps Parmenides wholly invented the preface in order to grant supernatural imprimatur to his philosophy. This is the received interpretation that has reigned for three hundred years’ worth of scholarly conservatism.

But perhaps this is not the case. His account undoubtedly contains shamanic elements: the trance state, the being “taken” by otherworldly beings to a simultaneously celestial and chthonic place, and finally a spirit/goddess who imparts knowledge to heal not the human bodies/souls, as does the shaman, but the minds of those to whom Parmenides will pass on his message.

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Carla Rueckert entranced in contact with Ra as Jim McCarty looks on

In 1946, a trance-medium named Mark Probert utilized at least a half-dozen controls to gain an understanding of the “ethereal plane” from which he divulged the origin of UAP. This was the beginning of an onslaught of channeling that involved extraterrestrial beings. 

The Law of One: The Ra Materials series is trance-channelings from 1980-83. Medium Carla Rueckert, ufologist Don Elkins, and Jim McCarty had worked at achieving psychic contact with UAP “occupants” for 19 years before these results were achieved. Rueckert would have to undergo a ritual procedure before each channeling session until contact was established with a cosmic collective “social memory complex” that called itself Ra (an echo of Hermes Trismegistus’s own Ra or “Re”?) While in the trance she spoke on many topics of which she had no conscious knowledge (although much of the material is couched in the Theosophical terms of Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey). Take for example these quotes from The Law of One[5]:

The Law of One, though beyond the limitations of name, as you call vibratory sound complexes[6] may be approximated by stating that all things are one, that there is no polarity, no right or wrong, no disharmony, but only identity. All is one, and that one is love/light, light/love, the Infinite Creator. (pg. 85)

The dissolution into nothingness is the dissolution into unity, for there is no nothingness (pg. 91)

I take Ra’s identity in the quote to mean the self-identity of the All. In other words, along with Vedanta philosophy, for Ra everything is Brahma (God/love/light) wearing an infinite number of masks (forms).

HOLY MALARKEY

Most ufologists and debunkers alike dismiss alien contacts’ and abductees’ messages as “mystical blather” that anyone could make up. I disagree.

Firstly, the percipients who experience these revelations and attempt to pass on these messages have come from a wide social-economic spectrum, from illiterate “peasants” to materialist-minded physicians and physicists.[7] Many times they end up studying or becoming obsessed with metaphysics, cosmology, or occult teachings.[8] Many of the same “mundane” metaphysical observations were made during the Spiritualist movement 1848-the present by the “controls” for “great spiritual leader” figures who had passed on. There are at least two enormous works of individual and collective channeling, respectively Oasphe (1880-1882) and The Urantia Book (1924-1955) that present alternate cosmologies and historico-spiritual revisionism of the world’s religions. Inevitably the first tenet of these works is that “the true world is not how it sensorily and ideally appears to us.” Of course such a perennial message counters the monovision of “Newton’s sleep,” the 19th century Western physicalist view that persists in its dominance today. It is only in the bizarre findings of quantum physics that such an axiom finds parallel. With these messages we have Parmenides’s message echoing down the ages via Plato, then the Neo-Platonists, then the mystics of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam via the Hermetic tradition.

Second, the message of space-time being “One” is not blather in many interpretations of cosmological and quantum physics. It can especially be found in the idea of the Zero Point Field and physicist David Bohm’s conception of an implicate order that lies enfolded “beneath” or “behind” all phenomena…There is also Hugh Everett’s “many-worlds” interpretation of Schrodinger’s wave-function equations which has been receiving serious attention over the past decades. Were Everett’s conjecture somehow proven, it would imply Parmenides’s vision demonstrates an ontological truth: in a multiverse where everything that is even remotely possible actually does occur, there is no conceivable way nothing could exist qua the non-possible, and “becoming” would be a meaningless concept because all that is to be already is, and already has been.

Only a minority of human beings can truly grasp such a concept of “universal oneness” with their entire soul, usually after long meditation; it results in a “blow-out” (the literal translation of the word nirvana) of the mind and complete transformation of personality. We are conditioned from birth to think of “objective things” as separate from one another. These messages point to the beginning of the path to achieve this consciousness.

Cosmic evolution figures in channeled messages like Probert’s and Rueckert’s, and we are told that we humans are near the bottom of the evolutionary ladder due to our uncontrolled, even uncontrollable, thoughts and emotions. This existential situation, combined with our hierarchical social systems that concentrate political/military power as the binding element, are a time bomb for global self-destruction. So say the “Ufonauts” and any rational observer both. Our casual march into ubiquitous fossil fuel use and deforesting the planet simply so humans can possess “individual” dwellings shows our ignorance of the interconnection between inner and outer, system-boundary and the greater whole of which it is a part. The Oneness that Parmenides and the channelers speak of, were it felt by even a modest fraction of the world’s population, would doubtless through time change everything and reset our course.

Third, and tying into oneness, is the fact that humankind has fallen pitifully short of the ability to “love one’s brother” unconditionally as a creation of God just as one is. This non-duality between self and other is basic to mystical experience, and put into daily practice, leads to the dictum. Jesus of Nazareth’s command is both the simplest and most difficult task to attain for the majority of people, because it requires either a random spiritual-blowout (such as a born-again experience, NDE, or a UAP entity encounter) or intense, lifelong work on one’s psyche—pretty hard to come by outside a monastery.

Fourth, it cannot be denied that these types of Otherworldly messages have decisively helped steer civilization from the beginning of recorded history. Parmenides’s vision is a perfect example—or Moses’s, or Muhammad’s. The fact that they now recur in a high-technological context does not render them useless or banal. There are even fewer ears to “hear” and heed these messages than there were in Parmenides’s or Moses’s or Jesus’s times.

The debunkers of both UAP encounters and spirit-journeys always clamor for useful, physical evidence, such as a cure for cancer, or that some notorious mathematical or physics puzzle’s solution be given as proof of these Others’s advanced nature, but that would be an example of thaumaturgy—the “performance trick” warned of in countless spiritual traditions as a worthless frippery.[9] Thaumaturgic acts done by a “spiritual leader” have been traditionally condemned because they short-circuit disciples’ efforts at intellectual and spiritual growth; they always deflect the attention from oneself and lead to deification of the “magician” and place faith in that magician, in lieu of work.

Thus, when confronted with a request for proof of the experience from a UAP entity experiencer, the rationale given by the Others is always “we cannot interfere with your progress in any way.” This implies giving such knowledge would impede our efforts to self-overcome. These types of messages are anything but banal, but are only called such from a scientistic worldview.


[1] Smoley, Richard. Forbidden Faith: The Secret History fo Gnosticism, Harper One, 2007.

[2] Translated by G.R.S. Mead,

[3] These humanoids will always have something “off” about them: while basically homo sapiens in appearance, their eyes will be too large or small, or their skulls too big, or their arms too long, or their skin color greenish or bright red, etc.

[4] This very often turns out terribly for the percipient, especially if multiple “contacts” occur and the information granted is unquestionably believed. See Keel, John, Operation Trojan Horse, Anomalist Books, 2013, and Vallee, Jacques, Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults, Daily Grail Publishing, 2008.

[5] Elkins, Don and Rueckert, Carla. The Ra Material: Law of One: Book One, L/L Research, 1984.

[6] In the Ra nomenclature, a “vibratory sound complex” means basically “speech-conception.”

[7] “Dr. X,” a famous French physician, became obsessed with esoteric subjects after being physically healed by a UFO that appeared to him in 1968. See Jacques Vallee’s Dimensions and this https://www.thinkanomalous.com/drx-ufo.html. In Catholic scholar Diana Pasulka’s 2019 American Cosmic, she details the story of two mainstream scientists’ interactions with “non-human intelligences” that not only changed their “physical signatures” but put them at the forefront of investigating the presence of “alien” beings interacting with humanity.

[8] William James: “James (1890 B), too, commented on the stylistic peculiarities of mediumistic communications: ‘If he ventures on higher intellectual flights, he abounds in a curiously vague optimistic philosophy-and-water, in which phrases about spirit, harmony, beauty, law, progression, development, etc., keep reoccurring. It seems exactly as if one author composed of more than half of the trance-messages, no matter by whom they are uttered’ (Vol. 1, page 394),” (my emphasis). Irreducible Mind, pg. 356.

[9] Even if the “entities” provided this proof via the contactee or abductee, debunkers would still probably claim it did not come from anything beyond an aberrant state of the human mind akin to those of mathematical prodigies. And of course the debunkers have no idea how these prodigies’ minds actually work and perform so astoundingly.