There recently appeared in that always useful source of ufological folklore, Northern UFO News, an article by Jenny Randles about children who had ‘aliens’ as imaginary companions. She suggested that such children are being taught by non-human forces in an attempt to raise their consciousness. Other writers in this field have evoked images of alien children – ‘space babies’ – possessed of strange talents. Both see these children as leaders of a new age.
The idea of a race of divine children as harbingers of the transformation of mankind crops up in a number of obscure quarters. For example, The famous SPR ‘Cross Correspondents’ (a group of Edwardian ladies who ostensibly received enigmatic classical references from the deceased Gurney, Podmore, Myers, et al) produced scripts relating to the ‘Children of the Spirit’, whose:
“birth, character and destiny are influenced by the spirits responsible for the plan [of world redemption]. Making use of the genetic knowledge of Frances M Balfour [a distinguished geneticist] and the psychological skills of Edmund Gurney. This technique was known as psychological eugenics. They were to be the establishers of a world order of peace, born out of war and sacrifice.’ 
This plan was first revealed by W. N. Salter, husband of one, and son-in-law of another cross-correspondent. Salter also includes a couple of examples of the mental imagery associated with these scripts: “St Francis of Assisi in his monk’s robe. Laurels covered with snow… ‘there is always snow on their laurels”. The next image was of a typical Victorian christening party gathering “looking with awe rather than affection on a baby in a cradle. (It] struck me as a realisation that the little creature who will someday rank among the saints is not their own, but some sort of a changeling..:”
The presumed origin of this changeling is revealed in a subsequent vision:
“All sorts of glass retorts, tubes, wheels (especially noted a sort of double wheels). Some of the receptacles were full of clear liquid full of shining bubbles… it ended as far as I am concerned in a most beautiful radiant seraphs head in a large test tube”.
No doubt this vision, partly alchemist’s homunculus, partly Dr. Frankenstein, will be claimed as a precognition of ‘test tube babies’ – of which more later.
Let us note that these visions occurred during World War I, at a time when concern for peace was uppermost in peoples’ minds; and at a time and among a class of people where eugenics was a fashionable doctrine of ‘world improvement’. Today such a vision causes shivers to run up our spines: at least those of us who are not in California MENSA.
Modern contactees have claimed both supernormal powers and extraterrestrial origins for their offspring. Cynthia Appleton, a contactee from Aston, Birmingham, in the 1950s, claimed a spaceman had materialised in her living-room on a day when there was a stressful and stormy atmosphere. In subsequent ‘projected’ and ‘physical’ visitations the figure, sometimes with a companion, delivered the usual contactee platitudes, made vague references to titanium, and uttered various second rate zen-like koans. An example: “The truth of life is living and all that exists in life is not just a matter of good and evil for these do not exist. There is the flow of life only. In this flow one thing shall devour another to be made whole”. Another: “Time is the passing of one thing to another. The beginning of a blossom, its blooming, then fading”.
In September 1958 she was informed that the following May she would give birth to a child – which prediction came true (if we are to believe John Dale’s account ) even to within an ounce of the birth weight, and a couple of days of birth. Mrs Appleton explained coyly that although her husband was, of course, the baby’s physical father, the boy was the spiritual son of the fair-haired spaceman. With fair hair, almond skin and blue eyes, the child was to be named Matthew (Gift of God), and would be a leader at the age of fourteen . Stories were told of the curious precocity of his childhood. This story, with its perhaps too conscious echoes of the Annunciation, soon disappeared from public memory; of the fate of Matthew Appleton nothing is know (at least to the present writer, perhaps some Magonia readers know more), clearly he has not been a ‘great leader’ since 1973, his fourteenth birthday.
Elizabeth Klarer actually broke South Africa’s infamous Immorality Act by having carnal relations with a spaceman, with resulting offspring
The South African contactee Elizabeth Klarer went one better. She actually broke South Africa’s infamous Immorality Act by having carnal relations with a spaceman, with resulting offspring . This is a modern version of the folktale of the woman seduced by a fairy, who takes the child to Magonia. This story is best exemplified in the traditional ballad of the Great Silkie of Skule Skerry, in which the child of the earthly wife and the semi-divine seal-man is slaughtered by her husband, “a guid gunner”. Maureen Duffy  sees this as the death of a young girl’s fantasy at her first true sexual experience, though one suspects that the anonymous poet may have had a grander vision of ‘cosmic catastrophe’ and fall from innocence, in which a primordial bond between humanity and nature is shattered by the world of adult authority, rationality and metal, which reduces nature to a thing to be shot at.
If Elizabeth Klarer’s child was taken to Magonia, so was the child conceived by Antonio Villas Boas and the wild woman, passion red in her erogenous zones and barking like an animal, on a spaceship with a clock with no hands.
Themes of divine children are the stock in trade of mythology, and some anthropologists relate this to concepts surrounding lineage (fatherless heroes can establish rules for the whole community rather than one line of descent).
In modern science fiction ‘divine children’ play an interesting role. John Wyndham’s The Midwich Cuckoos describes a village which is sealed off from the rest of the country, and all women of child-bearing age give birth to identical, fair-haired, golden eyed children. According to Jung, the peculiar parthenogenesis and the golden eyes denote kinship with the sun, and characterise the children of divine progeny. Their fathers seem to have been angels of the annunciation who have come down from a ‘supercelestial’ place, to take off the stupidity and backwardness of homo sapiens .
In Arthur Clarke’s novel Childhood’s End the ‘Overlords’ – symbols of rational, scientific progress – arrive from space to end humanity’s squabbles and create a rationalist utopia on Earth. In the closing chapters it is seen that this utopia is sterile; its rationalism a defence against aspects and powers of the human personality which must be hidden until humanity has also gained true wisdom. The release of these powers comes with the birth of a generation of divine children, whose apotheosis marks the end of the race of mortals.
For writers such as Jenny Randles  these children may be already amongst us, being educated by non-human powers using ‘psychic toys’ in a sort of up-market Montessori education! On the other hand, Crystal Hogben, of the now defunct Magic Saucer magazine, believed that children suffering from hypercalcaema were some sort of changelings, presumably in an analogy with Midwich Cuckoos.
But our society has much bleaker and more ominous images of childhood, as witness the rash of films such as Rosemary’s Baby, the Omen series, and so forth, and the periodic media fears and social panics over clones and test-tube babies (which included the extraordinarily libelous claim from one extreme traditional Roman Catholic source that Louise Brown, the first ‘test-tube baby’ was a soulless monster with telekinetic powers). Evidently our fears of the changeling and the alchemists’ homunculus still persist.
In tradition the changeling was either an inanimate object or a fairy which replaced a true human child. The changeling must be harshly treated, whereupon it may reappear as a human child. It is a ‘thing’ in the guise of a human. It is usually held that the myth arose as an explanation in response to the birth of Down’s syndrome, hydrocephalic or otherwise deformed babies. However, a broader explanation is more probable: that the myth arose as a means of dealing with the failure of parental bonding, child abuse, and possibly infanticide in a poverty stricken rural economy. In a peasant society such as rural Ireland, where the mother/child bond was held especially significant, parental indifference and child abuse could be denied by the parents’ reduction of the child to ‘thing’ status – a form of social death.
In adults, the explanation of ‘taken by the fairies’ was used to cover both premature physical death, and ‘social death’ through failure to adhere to accepted norms of behaviour. A significant proportion of those ‘taken’ were young women with depressive conditions who refused, or were unable, to perform housewifely duties. The blurring between actual and ‘social’ death often makes understanding of the narratives of such events very difficult.
The myths surrounding children raise important philosophical and theological issues. Children are unsocialised, and as such represent an intrusion of ‘wilderness’ into the adult world of ‘habitat’. Western attitudes to childhood and child-rearing have differed as attitudes to the relative merits of ‘wilder-ness’ and ‘habitat’ have changes. To much of orthodox Christianity, following St Augustine, children were almost literally demonic intrusions, whose human status could only be safeguarded by the exorcising rite of baptism. True value was held by the community, in particular by the Church as earthly representative of the City of God, the perfect, immutable sphere. Children, repositories of original sin, were to be beaten into obedience.
However, from the eighteenth century onwards, Romantics and many Christians revived the alternative, Pelagian view of human nature. Sin was transmitted not by inheritance but by bad example and the corruption of a fallen society. The Wilderness was now seen as a repository of virtue, a divine realm from which children came ‘bearing clouds of glory’. The natural innocence of childhood was glorified by philosophers such as Rousseau and poets such as Wordsworth.
Considerable attention was devoted to the behaviour and attributes of ‘natural’ wild children; whilst Victorian moralists wrote pious tracts about innocent children who died before they could be corrupted by the sinful world.
Such divergence of attitudes still dominate many social and political debates, such as environment v. heredity; naked ape v. social animal; or ‘progressive’ v. ‘traditional’ education.
The ‘aliens’ who guide the young are in no sense truly alien; rather they represent an ideal, utopian future society
It is in the Romantic mode that Randles suggests that children represent the hope for the future. If these children are to be educated by aliens it implies the central failure of our society: adult society cannot be the guide and exemplar for these children, because of its limitless moral turpitude. It is implied that the civilization of the bomb and the concentration camp can produce nothing but hypocrisy when it preaches to the young; but that the ‘aliens’ who are to guide the young are in no sense truly alien. Rather the ‘aliens’ represent an ideal, utopian future society. The moral is that the aliens, and the alien taught children, are only really ‘alien’ to our corrupted world of racial, national, religious and political allegiance.
Similarly we can see that the self-description of any individual as being ‘alien’ suggests a depth of alienation not only from immediate family, but also from society as a whole. Many (perhaps most) children go through a phase of believing that their parents are not their real parents (who are ‘really’ people of position and power). These fantasies can become acute in adopted children . Similarly, outraged parents describe modern fashions as ‘Martian’ or ‘alien’; the generation gap can become unlimited, leading to a radical alienation.
There is an intellectual tradition for this ‘alienation’: the gnostic vision of spirit trapped in an alien and hostile substance, and the case of ‘Gary’, discussed by Randles and Warrington [in 10] is an excellent example of the reappearance of archaic mythic material in schizophrenia.
But ‘Gary’ is an extreme example, and most star-babies must recognise their biological status as homo sapiens, so we are dealing with a psychological alienation, but one so extreme that the ‘as if’ qualification is cast aside. Nevertheless some identification with an idealsied ‘true humanity’ still exists.
These children are, it is claimed, destined to lead new social movements, and the example is given of Gaynor Sunderland, whose home has significantly been compared to a shrine. Children have been at the centre of a number of renovative movements, such as those associated with visions of the Virgin Mary, of whom Bernadette Soubirous is the most famous . The role of the young Fox sisters was crucial in the birth of Spiritualism , and the role of teenage children in witchcraft epedemics such as Salem , or revivals such as the Great Awakening of 1735 is important.
The fact that many of these movements were lead by young girls, traditionally the most subservient and quietist members of a patriarchal society, is most important. It serves to highlight the radical reversal of social relationships in a movement which rejects the old, corrupt order, as is no doubt reflected in the role of youth in radical movements of the left and right.
The modern ‘New Age’ movement was born out of generational conflict, and a rejection of what it saw as the false consciousness of the civilization of political economy. In the process a comprehensive cult of youth was created in the 1960′s when a strong sense of the world being ‘made anew’ prevailed.
Increasingly, the ‘New Age’ movement in Britain has revived older Romantic themes: the lost rural idyll, the garden where humankind and nature were in harmony. The renovation is also a restoration of the lost pre-historic innocence – supporters of Stanislas Grof and Alvin Lawson may see this as a projection of a personal pre-history, a return to the lost paradise of the womb. The late Nandor Fodor once identified fairyland with the womb; thus the abductee and the ‘taken’ escape from the world of responsibility to at least a psychological equivalent of the womb – or the womb of the grave.
And if Lawson is right, then the alien world from which the changeling child comes is indeed the womb. If so then the ultimate Wilderness and the ultimate Habitat are one and the same.
1. SALTER, W.H. Zoar the evidence of psychical research concerning survival, Sidgewick & Jackson 1961.
2. DALE, John. ‘The Appleton Story’, DIGAP Review, no. 1, 1970.
3. Flying Saucer Review, vol. 5, no. 5, p.5.
4. HIND, Cynthia, UFOs, African Encounters, Gemini (Zimbabwe) 1982.
5. DUFFY, Maureen, The Erotic World of Faery.
6. JUNG, C.G. Flying Saucers, a modem myth of things seen in the sky. RKP, 1959.
7. RANDLES, Jenny. Editorial, NUFON News no. 111.
8. HOGBEN, Crystal. Magic Saucer, no. 17, quoted in Common Ground no. 3.
9. Briefly mentioned in TRISELIOTIS, John, In Search of Origins; the experiences of adopted people. RKP, 1973.
10. RANDLES, J. & WARRINGTON, P. UFOs, a British Viewpoint. Hale, 1979.
11. McCLURE, Kevin, Evidence for Visions of the Virgin Mary, Aquarius, 1983.
12. MOORE, R. Lawrence, In Search of White Crows, Oxford U.P., 1977.
13. BEYER, Paul & NISSENBAUM, Stephen, Salem Possessed; the social origins of witchcraft. Harvard U.P., 1974