Strange Awakenings. Keith Basterfield

MUFOB, new series 13, Winter 1978/9


Several years ago I was involved in the investigation of a close encounter which had all the ingredients of a really good case. The details were duly obtained and the reports and investigation notes were published (1), although my notes ended as follows:

Taking all available details into consideration, and given that at the moment we are unable to interview the driver, we consider that there are reasons to query this observation as a part of the phenomenon we are studying. However the details are related and documented for future reference.

This doubt in my mind was brought about by several features of the report, which to me suggested either a misinterpretation of a conventional stimulus (I suggested an old, oval-shaped caravan or dream. Firstly, let us take a look at the report to see what was described. I will italicise the points I wish to draw to your attention.

At about 3am on a day believed to be the 6th September 1973, a Miss R. had been asleep for about an hour in the passenger side of the cabin of a semi-trailer, which was travelling between Adelaide and Perth.

She relates hearing a voice telling her to wake up and look out of the window. She looked out and saw an object off to the left hand side of the road, stationary. As
the truck continued on at about 70-80 k/h she studied closely what she states was clearly visible as an egg-shaped object on the ground, illuminating the surroundings. A figure was noted walking towards an opening in the ‘egg’, with another figure to be seen inside the object. Then the glow which had been surrounding the egg died, leaving only one small white light still shining. The whole event seemed only to last for seconds, then the witness asked the driver to stop. By the time he did so, and they looked hack, the white light was the only thing visible. As the semi-trailer travelled along the road the object was on the left hand side at an estimated distance of 15 meters.

As Miss R. watched she had an end view, then a front view, and finally a view of the other end. It was on the ground, with the bottom portion hidden by scrub. Appearing oval In shape, it had openings which Miss R. said looked just like a door and window. The overall size was estimated as about 3m high by 5-6m long. The entire object was alight with a glow which seemed to come from all over and within it. This glow illuminated the ground and air, gradually fading off as distance increased from the source. She is uncertain, but feels the oval may have been semi-transparent as she thinks she followed the movement of one figure moving around inside other than by seeing through the door and window.

As soon as she noticed the object, she also became aware of the two figures. One was visible through the window from the shoulder up, and the other was walking into the object’s illumination. The latter appeared to be looking at something in its hand. It walked to the door and stepped inside, moved to the left, and appeared to talk to the figure sitting down, then reached up one hand to the back wall, and then the glow surrounding the egg died down.

This dimming of the glow was described by the witness as unlike anything she had ever seen before. The glow seemed to shrink in size until just surrounding the egg, then dimmed to nothing.

The illumination was good, something that Miss R. emphasis remained vividly in her memory between the time of the event, and her relating it to us twelve months later. She was at a loss to compare the colour and glow to anything she knew. Although her viewing time was short, she was able to notice a good deal of detail about the scene, including the two figures. They were of human height, about 190cm tall, of average build, with a neck, two arms and body like ours. There were in fact no differences with seeing a human being at that distance.

The figure which walked into the glow was wearing a one-piece, loose fitting white or silver coloured outfit which seemed to be gathered at the wrists and ankles. As far as could be seen the figure sitting down was dressed the same way.

At about 2 to 2.15 am Miss R. had felt tired and had curled up on the seat, intending to sleep for some hours. At about 5.00 am she was asleep when she ‘heard’ a male voice ‘warmly’ and softly telling her to look out of the window. In reaction to this she woke up feeling fresh, and immediately looked out of the left hand window to see the object and figures. At no stage apparently was this visible to the driver. She is adamant that it was not the driver who woke her up, as he had asked her what she was doing when she moved to look at the object. The driver did not mention seeing anything as the truck approached the spot where presumably the object should have been when Miss R. awoke. She waited for several seconds taking in all the details, and then when the glow had gone out asked the driver to stop. Her recollection as to whether they got out of the truck or not is vague. However she does recall that the driver was not particularly interested in the white glow that was visible behind them, so they drove on.

Miss R, was English and 32 years old, originally coming from East Anglia in about 1971. Since then she had spent her time travelling about Australia., just seeing the country and working in different places. At the time of the interview she was working in a town store. She said that she had read stories of UFO abductions, and that she had been determined not to stop the truck until the light went out.

This case continued to puzzle me as I researched other close encounters. Eventually I took a look at these events and made aa broad and arbitrary division between two categories – ‘accidental’ and ‘deliberate’. I made this division as I was interested in cases where the phenomenon was encountered and it broke off the event (accidentally discovered), and cases where the phenomenon seemed to instigate the event (deliberate). The deliberate cases I broke into two subcategories – (a) those where the reporter was awake at the time, and (b) those where the reporters say they were awoken to see the events. Sub-category (a) cases were found to occur at any time of the day or night, whereas (b) events tended to cluster between 0130 and 0430 hrs. Of course one would expect cases where the reported was asleep to occur between say 11 pm and 6 am, however the cases fell in a shorter time span of three hours instead of the possible seven. This I found of particular interest – why in the small hours of the morning?

In an article in MUFON Journal in December 1976, I speculated along lines similar to the above, and included the suggestion that the reporters be regressed under hypnosis and asked to relate their experience as it happened, while their brain-wave patterns were monitored. I put forward the idea, that if the brain-waves showed a predominance of Theta waves, medically associated with imagery, then the event might have been all in the mind, ie. self-generated (2).

This article was followed by another in the Bulletin of the Australian Coordinating Section of the Center for UFO Studies (3) in which David Seargent and myself pointed out that, there was a peak of certain close encounters between 1.30 and 4.30 am, and that there were six Australian cases where people had woken up and reported seeing either an object or an entity. At least two of these, Ivy Tanks (the case outlined above) and Gum Creek, both personally investigated, were puzzling because of their dream-like qualities.

In June 1978 after collecting and publishing a source catalogue of 350 Australian close encounters (4) I saw that there were quite a few cases which presented data along similar lines. Reading the literature also brought up the seemingly parallel cases of ‘Bedroom Invaders’ (5), reports where people awoke to find entities in their bedrooms. Sometimes reporters in these cases were ‘paralysed’ and could do nothing but watch.

It would seem that until now little has been done with these cases other than to document them and treat them as genuine observations of UFOs or their occupants. Some researchers have drawn attention to the similarities between this type of event and psychic experiences, but few seem to have sought a cause.

Recent reading of psychological literature shows that there is a strong possibility that our early-morong cases where reporters wake are not related to UFOs, ETH, transdimensional or ultraterrestrials or supernatural causes. In fact there is a known psychological phenomenon which seems to fit all the date in these instances.

Psychologists have long been aware of a type of imagery which is self-generated in the human mind. It is the perception of something which is not input through the normal sense organs, although it is encountered in normal healthy people in the period between sleep and wakefullness. The intermediate state between wakefulness ands leep is termed hypnogogic; and between sleep and final wakefulness is hypnopompic.

Hypnopompic images most often occur with the eyes closed, but may also happen with the eyes open in a darkened environment. Their content is visual or auditory but may also include sensations of heat or cold, small or touch. They may be reproductions of events of the day, or strange, foreign, or bizarre images which can be at times pleasing or frightening. A person has little control over their appearance, departure or content. One of the most basic auditory images is hearing one’s name being called, bringing one to one’s full senses. The most common visual image is of ‘faces in the dark’.

Very often the images are vivid and realistic, and there is an unusual clarity of detail. Durations range from a few seconds to minutes, and persons experiencing them comment on the unusual quality of the colour and lighting, using such phrases as ‘strange luminosity’.

The incidence of some kind of imagery amongst healthy individuals has been found from surveys to range from 51-77% of the population, and because of its sometimes bizarre nature it can be related to supernatural causes by some people. As an example of just how real these images can be to a normal person I will relate one such account. A young couple had a routine of the wife getting breakfast ready for her husband and then seeing him off to work. One morning she recalled getting out of bed, washing, dressing, preparing breakfast and then kissing her husband goodbye. At this point she ‘woke up’ to find her husband kissing her goodbye. She was still in bed, and had been all the time, while her husband had got up and made his own breakfast. To her the image was real, coloured and three-dimensional, and could not be distinguished from reality.

Now back to Ivy Tanks, our semi-trailer case. I would put forward the suggestion that in this case, where a woman heard her name being called, with the unusual clarity of detail the unusual colour and lighting, was actually a hypnopompic image.

In researching the literature I have found a number of such cases which have some or all the characteristics of images. Doubtless there will be many others which come to the readers’ mind (including some apparitional events) which could he ex-plained in this manner. Let us look at some of the ones I have come across.

1. JULY 1967, 0300 hrs, Palma, Spain. The daughter of Count de Ribas was awakened by an intense light coming from the patio. She saw two small figures at the window apparently speaking to each other. They had very large heads and huge eyes. The witness tried to turn on the light but it did not work. She went out and got her coat; when she returned all had vanished except for two small foot-prints outside the window. (6)

2. JULY 18, 1967,. 0130 hrs, Boardman, Ohio. The Revd A de Polo was woken by a very loud noise, “the type you hear on TV science fiction programmes”. He felt that a mental message was being conveyersd to him. He went downstairs and in the driveway was a 5ft tall figure wearing a luminous ‘space suit’. The surrounding glow made the figure very distinct. He received another ‘message’; looking up he saw the sky was strangely illuminated. When he turned his eyes to the driveway again he saw that where the figure had been was now a formless blob of light, which faded and vanished. He returned to bed and “fell asleep immediately” (7).

3. JUNE 22, 1972, 0200hrs Logrono, Spain. A 20 year old student was in bed reading when he suddenly perceived that the room seemed to grow brighter. He put his book down and saw an intensely powerful light was coming through the two shutters of his window, the window opened by itself and a luminous object entered at a height of two meters. It stopped, and the light from it was very brilliant. The student tried to sink into bed, terrified. A transistor radio which was switched on although there was no station broadcasting, emitted a high-pitched noise which he taped with a portable recorder. The object put out a beam to the radio and recorder, finally it went straight towards the window, and vanished. The student did not go to the window to look out as he was more concerned with getting a recording of the noise. Upon being questioned, he said that the radio had visibly swayed when the beam was on it; however “not a single trace was left by the passage of the object”. (8) No comment was made in the source as to whether or not the tape had recorded the noise. One presumes not, otherwise it would probably have been ten-dred as evidence.

4. OCT. 15 1973, 0500 hrs. Omro, Wisconsin, The witness was awoken by a brief, high pitched sound and his room was lit up by a bright orange-red glow. Three humanoids 4-5ft tall were seen to materialise. They had bald heads, grayish-white wrinkled skin and rounded ears, and moved mechanically. The witness passed out, then came to on the floor, propped against a wall unable to move. The entities were examining him with an oval device which showed the bones of his leg as it passed over them. He had a severe headache and passed out again. He awoke towards dawn still on the floor. The light was on and the bed sheets were folded neatly back. He reported the incident to CUFOS. There are some inconsistencies in the story, according to Webb (9).

5. OCT. 17, 1973. 0345 hrs, Pikesville, Maryland. A woman was awoken by the sound of an explosion. She heard a loud humming, walked out onto the front porch and saw a red coloured transparent object On top was a bubble with a human figure standing up (10).

6. OCT. 28, 1973. Night, Reno, Nevada. During the early hours of the morning the witness went to the window and saw three ‘very large’ saucer-shaped objects hovering across the street. A ‘ground crew’ of 10-12 figures wearing dull-glowing ‘cube-type’ uniforms were milling around as if in search of something. A very low pitched hum was heard but no barking by her or neighbours’ dogs. When two of the men approached her driveway she took alarm and returned to bed where she fell asleep immediately. There was no confirmation of anything unusual from neighbours and no traces were found (11).

7. SEPT. 1973, Ivy Tanks, South Australia. Described earlier (12).

8. FEB. 3, 1964. 0200 hrs, Gum Creek, South Australia. A lady awoke and looked out of the window; suddenly “like a movie screen descending” a figure materialised. The illumination was as bright as day. The entity was described in fine detail. He walked towards the bedroom window and the lady sank down into bed and fell asleep. There were no traces (12).

9. FEB 1976 (approx.), 2300 hrs, Hobart, Tasmania. A man and his wife had gone to bed and the wife had already gone to sleep. The man put out the light and was about to settle down in bed when he saw the doorway with the door closed appear to get darker. Three figures came through the closed door. One put his hand on the man’s leg, which went dead; another then tried to put a bag over the man’s legs under the bed-clothes. He called out to his wife and threw a cigarette lighter, cigarettes and ash tray towards her to wake her up. She startedd to put on the light whereupon the figures stepped over the bed and through the window which seemed to burst open in an orange glow. By the time she looked, there was nothing there. The objects thrown were found by her bed. (13)

10. JAN 14, 1972. 0200 hrs, Burra, South Australia. Awakening for no apparent reason a lady went to the bedroom window and immediately saw a red mushroom shaped object rising from nearby hills into the sky (14).

As can be seen, all are nocturnal events with seven reported as occurring between the hours of 1.30 and 3.35 am, and one unknown, beyond that it was between 1 and 5 a.m. Six occurred to women and four to men. In seven cases the single reporters were awoken by stimuli, while one was reading (actually fallen asleep?) and the other two are unknown.

We note throughout these cases that there is a recurrence of vivid illumination, figures materialising/dematerialising, or the reporter falling asleep imediately after the cessation of the event. Some cases could almost certainly be related to what we know of images (Ivy Tanks, Gum Creek, Boardman, Omro, Hobart) while others could be borderline cases (eg. Pikesville).

It seems that we do not have enougn information in many of these cases to provide a reason why the brain might have chosen to portray an image of entities and objects rather than pink elephants. However, I feel that a clue may lie with the Ivy Tanks reporter when she said “I think the voice woke me because he knew how much I wanted to see one of these things.” Wish fulfillment, as in dreams, could be the main factor, the person genuinely wanting to see one of these UFO things. This mechanism certainly needs clarification, and possibly the investigator in such cases could inquire into the belief patterns of the reporter, them dream and sleep patterns, etc.

I have discussed the observed properties of hypnogogic and hypnopompic images and put forward several reported encounters where I believe there is a good chance that imagery provide the explanation.

There is certainly need for much more research in this area, for if nocturnal awakenings generate what is reported as a UFO close encounter, than could possibly events where encounters are related as happening to normal, healthy people driving a car or walking along a road at night be due to images spontaneously generated within the brain? For remember, the same ‘clarity of detail’, ‘vivid illimination’ etc. occurs in most encounters. Furthermore, could ‘abductions’ be an extreme case of our night-time images? In these events seemingly impossible things occur, reporters ‘float’, see bones through skin, enter objects by unknown means,. see invisible internal illumination fittings, etc. In at least one Australian case (Frankston, 1972) a lady who lapsed into an unconscious state related she was in a chamber with no apparent means of escape and lit by a light for which there was no source, whilst still physically in the presence of two other people in a car, who saw nothing.

If this were so, then there would be very few UFO cases left to explain. One could postulate that car stop events, where an object was stated to have stopped a car, and for which we have been unable to come up with an acceptable mechanism, never really happened except in the mind of the driver. This would only leave the very small percentage of cases where two or more reporters saw an object at close range, or those cases where undeniable physical traces were found.

In summary, the subject and hypothesis of imagery in normal, healthy people causing reported close encounters with the UFO phenomenon, may provide some clues to at least a number of the cases on record to date.


  1. See Psychic Australian magazine, February 1978, and UFORSA newsletter no. 10
  2. Basterfield, Keith and Ben West, Psycholocical aspects of some recent Australian Close Encounters, MUFON Journal, 109, December 1976.
  3. Basterfield, Keith. A possible time pattern for certain close encounters. ACOS Bulletin, 10, June 1977
  4. Basterfield, Keith. A source catalogue of Australasian UFO and related reports. Privately published.
  5. Keel, John Our Haunted Planet, and Strange Creatures from Time and Space.
  6. FSR Special no. 4, p.49
  7. FSR vol. 14, no. 1, pp. 25-26
  8. FSR vol. 19, no. 2. p. 10
  9. Details of this case is taken from Webb, David, Year of the Humanoids, CUFOS, 1976.
  10. ibid
  11. ibid
  12. Personal investigation by this author
  13. Investigation by Tasmanian UFO Investigation Centre.
  14. Personal investigation by this author.

Jenny Randles has some more cases of curious awakenings HERE


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>