Brad Steiger's 107 books on psychic phenomena with sales topping 15 million have struck a nerve. Americans are desperately curious about such things as Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) and Extraterrestrial Intelligence (ETIs).
Most New Age libraries contain at least a dozen of Steiger's works, including The Promise, which traces the UFO connection and the "sky people" "our cosmic cousins" throughout history; or The Fellowship: Spiritual Contact Between Humans and Outerspace Beings, a "breakthrough book" picked up by major publisher Doubleday; or possibly Aquarian Revelations: Channeling Higher Intelligence, which tells how to work with multidimensional beings and experience a "peaceful" UFO encounter.
Many New Age channelers like Darryl Anka believe in UFOs. Anka says he first spotted Bashar, an extraterrestrial from the Orion constellation, when he (Anka) and some friends "had close, broad daylight, physical sighting of Bashar's spacecraft over Los Angeles."1
Ruth Norman, whom People's Weekly calls "the grande dame of New Age spiritualists," owns sixty-seven acres outside San Diego, where in the year 2001 she expects "33 interlocking spaceships to land, each carrying 1000 'other planetary dwellers,' ushering in the age of UNARIUS (Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science)."2
Medium Patricia Rochelle-Diegels of Sedona, Arizona, who wears six giant gemstone rings on her fingers, often "sees UFOs" in people's minds during their "immortality consultations." At a November 1987 New Age workshop in San Francisco, she said she had performed more than 35,000 of the readings at $144 each a lot of $ightings.3
Shirley MacLaine has put the stamp of the stars on UFOs. She believes flying saucers from the Pleiades constellation may have brought spiritual guides to Earth. And her book, It's All in the Playing, closes with her vision of a huge gray UFO that hovers over her head. The craft vanishes, replaced by a "spectacular ocean of liquid crystal shimmering in front of me."4
In Out on a Limb, MacLaine "sees" vehicles full of ETs which she says are found in the Book of Exodus when the Hebrew people moved out of Egypt and crossed the Red Sea (Exodus 14:19-22); she also sees a spaceship in Ezekiel's vision of the wheels (Ezekiel 1 and 10).
A lot of folks, from top government officials down, see a close encounter of the third kind as a distinct possibility. A 1987 Gallup Poll showed that 50% of Americans believe UFOs exist the same number who think extraterrestrials are real and one in eleven reported they had seen something they thought was a UFO.5
The late Margaret Mead (1901-78), one of the century's most colorful and influential anthropologists, gave a detailed rationale for UFOs in a column for the September 1974 issue of Redbook magazine. "Yes, there are unidentified flying objects . . . There is no reason to deny the reality of psychic phenomena we cannot yet explain," she concluded.6
UFOlogy has been boosted by Stephen Spielberg films like E.T. and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, in which the outer space visitors are amiable types, wise and benevolent.
But tales of malevolence have also soared. Fantasy writer Whitley Strieber's Communion was high on the best-seller lists during the summer of 1987. The sinister story, which Strieber insists is true, is his account of being spirited into a spaceship by a horde of three-foot-tall aliens.
Another horror story, Intruders, by Budd Hopkins, details how 135 people claimed to have been abducted by extraterrestrials. Hopkins, who says he himself saw a UFO near his
Cape Cod home, found near-identical experiences among the self-proclaimed abductees. "They were abducted by small, gray men with large, almost triangular heads, and large, black eyes. Blue lights floated above them into the spacecraft, where the creatures performed [bizarre and macabre] medical examinations on them."7
A typical scenario of UFO contact, pieced together from multiple accounts gathered since UFO-mania first broke out in mid-century, goes something like this:
A spaceship brings beings from another planet to investigate, save, conquer, or harass and confuse earthlings. The ETs make contact with an ordinary and often totally unsuspecting human being, usually in an isolated location.
If they are of good will, the space brothers and sisters seek to steer our civilization toward higher things. They do this by taking the earthling on board their spaceship where they communicate through telepathy, explaining the technology of the spaceship itself and space travel. Then they share their wisdom about the higher society from which they come. This "wisdom" material is often transmitted by an older man who assumes a shamanic role, or a beautiful young woman who takes on goddess proportions.
The ETs predict dire events that will overtake Earth soon because of human failures and environmental disasters caused by such things as pollution and atomic testing. These threaten life on other planets as well, they say.
The earthling is told he has been singled out for an important mission. Religious analysts Robert Ellwood and Harry B. Partin round out the scenario. Success of the mission "is crucial, for it will allow earthlings to avert catastrophe and to live in peace and plenty. The contactee initiates a campaign giving lectures and writing books in order to get the message across, although he is certain to be greeted with skepticism and ridicule, for he has little or no proof of his encounter with 'saucerians.' "8
Just before the amazed and bewildered earthling is released to terra firma once again, his hosts promise they will return and that he will be their channel for further communication.
Although some UFO groups have obviously been influenced by Theosophy as well as fundamentalist Christian
"rapture" theology, most UFO buffs reflect what Ellwood and Partin call "a new and direct discovery of symbols of mediation in the fabric of American life. The wise ones come as American Indians, Spirit Doctors, departed relatives, or from futuristic technology."9
Messages from outer space also seem to fall into a recognizable pattern. According to Brad Steiger, George King of the Aetherius Society, and other UFOlogists:
1. We are not alone in the universe. It is egocentric to think that Planet Earth is the only inhabited sphere in the vast cosmos. Highly cultured beings, who are light years ahead of us spiritually and scientifically, inhabit other planets.
2. All things are interconnected and interrelated; what affects one, affects all.
3. We are poised for a quantum leap forward on both the biological and spiritual levels. (This is also a teaching of Harmonic Convergence, which we will explore in the next chapter.)
4. The shifting of these energy fields will not be without pain, stress, and change. We are entering the "last days"; the Age of Aquarius is the "Age of the Apocalypse."
5. Cosmic intelligences have come via UFOs to guide us into the New Age, teaching us to rise to higher levels of consciousness. The ETs are aware this will cause birth pangs, but once reached, this higher state will only be the beginning of a golden age of peace and prosperity.
6. Death is an illusion, merely a doorway to another existence.
George King, the Englishman who is the leading light of the Los Angeles-based Aetherius Society, claims to have been contacted by "Master Jesus" and a multitude of space intelligences. He predicts a "New Master" will come "shortly and openly . . . in a Flying Saucer."10
King has also devised "Spiritual Energy Batteries," which he claims are able to store energy from prayers for later discharge through "specialized radionic equipment . . . at the right Karmic moment . . . in the event of catastrophes . . .
Since 1978, every Sunday morning, during a Spiritual Push, a certain amount of the Prayer Power energy contained in our Batteries is discharged through our Spiritual Energy Radiator and manipulated by Satellite No. 3."11
The Aetherius Society has branches throughout the world and a College of Spiritual Sciences in London.
Smaller UFO groups have also emerged, including Gabriel Green's Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America and the Urantia Foundation. Then there is Bo and Peep cult, sometimes called "the Two." In the mid-1970s this mysterious couple proclaimed that in order to escape coming catastrophe, believers were to sell everything, desert family and friends, and hang out with Bo and Peep until spaceships descended and sucked them all up into an astral vortex of safety.
So what about these giant spaceships and gray-skinned spacelings? The scientific community remains skeptical of both, and the U.S. government officially denies the existence or danger of UFOs. Not all officials agree, however.
True UFO believers accuse the feds of a cosmic Watergate conspiracy. They say this cover-up suppresses the results of a number of military and space agency investigations in the late 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s.
Several years ago Peter Gerston, a New York criminal lawyer, sued the government under the Freedom of Information Act and won. Based on the several hundred pages of UFO documents he was awarded, Gerston said he could "go into a criminal court at this moment . . . and conclusively prove that UFOs exist."12
Other UFO buffs, when asked for evidence of UFO claims, cite the existence of ancient structures like the Great Pyramid, the Mayan ruins, and Stonehenge. Modern technology can't duplicate those feats of engineering today, they say, thus proving that a higher civilization than our own built them. And, points out Irving Hexham, religious studies professor at Calgary University, archaeologists can't figure out the purpose of these structures, which UFO defenders say "only becomes clear when we see them in terms of space travel."13
Once these other-civilization myths are accepted as fact, UFOs are also believable. They are the chariots of the gods.
The UFO flap first lifted off in 1947 when Idaho businessman
Ken Arnold, while piloting a private plane over the Cascade Mountains, said he spotted nine gleaming discs racing along at speeds of 1000 miles an hour near Mount Rainier. Arnold told a newspaper editor that the objects moved "like saucers skipping across water"; the wire story that went round the world and ignited public excitement called them "flying saucers."
Martin Gardner, a fringe-science debunker who writes for the Skeptical Inquirer, says forty years have gone by "without finding a single nut or bolt from a flying saucer."14 Unverified sightings and contacts and a few fuzzy photos have fallen far short of the hard data scientists demand.
As in the supposed instances of communications from the dead, a minority of cases evade explanation: These are sightings that cannot be attributed to misperception of known natural occurrences. Indeed, the content of UFO messages seems nearly identical to that received through the centuries by mediums and mystics.
Some conservative Christian groups believe UFOs and ET contacts are caused by demonic activity (the same explanation they give for channeled entities) what cult-watcher David Fetcho referred to as "demonic spirits which have gained the power to actually perform materializations in the physical realm."15
Meanwhile, many UFOlogy advocates have switched to an untestable view: UFOs are "ghostlike things from some higher plane of reality, perhaps illusions created in our minds by alien superbeings."16
John Keel, a UFO researcher who claimed to be an agnostic, noted that "over and over again, witnesses have told me in hushed tones, 'You know, I don't think that thing I saw was mechanical at all. I got the distinct impression that it was alive.' "17
As long ago as 1959, psychoanalyst Carl Jung published his controversial but insightful book, Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies. Its thesis was that UFOs were not physical craft but "visionary rumors" that had psychological and religious, rather than interplanetary, significance.18
So we are again back to square one: Who or what causes UFOs and ETI? Is anybody out there? Do we have company?
Are otherworldly visitors who have transcended the known laws of physics extradimensionals hovering in our midst, occasionally blipping into dimensions we can see and measure?
Or is the elusive mystery truly in the mind of the beholder?
Chapter 11 || Table of Contents
1. Robin Weston, Channelers: A New Age Directory (New York: Perigee/Putnam, 1988), 170.
2. "She's Having the Time of Her Lives," People's Weekly, 26 January 1987, 31.
3. Celebration of Innovation Workshop, San Francisco, 6 November 1987.
4. Shirley MacLaine, It's All in the Playing (New York: Bantam Books, 1987), 336.
5. Bill Lawren, "UFO Poll," OMNI (October 1987): 144.
6. Margaret Mead, "UFO's Visitors from Outer Space," Redbook Magazine, September 1974, 5758.
7. "Out of the Blue," Philip Morris Magazine (Summer 1987).
8. Robert S. Ellwood and Harry B. Partin, Religious and Spiritual Groups in Modern America (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1988), 113.
9. Ibid., 111.
10. Aetherius Society materials, Hollywood, Calif., 1981.
12. "Out of the Blue."
13. Irving Hexham, "Yoga, UFOs, and Cult Membership," Update: A Quarterly Journal of New Religious Movements 10, no. 3 (September 1986): 11.
14. Martin Gardner, New Age: Notes of a Fringe-Watcher (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus Books, 1988), 213.
15. Mark Albrecht and Brooks Alexander, "UFOs: Is Science Fiction Coming True?" Spiritual Counterfeits Project Journal 1, no. 2 (August 1977): 30.
16. Gardner, New Age, 213.
17. John Keel, UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse (New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1970), 143.
18. Albrecht and Alexander, "UFOs: Is Science Fiction Coming True?" 17.
Chapter 11 || Table of Contents