Peter Rogerson – The Manchester Ghosts of 1861

January 1861 saw two strange ghost stories from Manchester, the first is an early example of the “haunted inn”, which is now a staple of ghostlore. The mysterious ringing of bells has similarities to Bealings Bells which appears as Chapter 5 of Rupert T. Gould’s Enigmas. The second seems to be a much older roadside boggart, though if encountered today may well come to the attention of ufologists.

Manchester Times 26 January 1861, page 5


For several nights past, immense crowds have been collected in and about the Feathers Hotel, in London Road, attracted by a story so singular, and on the face of it so incredible, that the most remarkable circumstance connected with it is that so many people should instead of laughing off the matter as joke, have been, excited by real curiosity concerning it. The new sensation, which is filling the coffers of the landlord of the Feathers, and, at the same time mulcting the pockets of the ratepayers for the services of an extra force of policemen – uniform men and detectives – is a ghost which, of all places in the world, has chosen one of the busiest centres  of Manchester, immediately opposite the London Road Station, for its nocturnal appearances.

The story is that for five weeks past the inmates of the hotel have been disturbed at all hours of the night by strange and unaccountable noises. When the weary waiters have gone to sleep, their dreams have been disturbed by the unwelcome tinkle first of one, then of two and more, and sometimes of all the bells in the house-fourteen in number-clanging together. A strict watch has on several occasions been kept, and when this has been done, the watchers have seen and ‘heard nothing unusual but so surely as the lights in the inn have been extinguished and quite  has been maintained, the strange noises have re-commenced. About a week ago, bellhangers were got in the house, who rearranged the wires and muffled the bells, and by this means it was supposed that the perturbed spirit had been laid at last to rest, an idea which was confirmed by the fact that for six nights thereafter the “ghost” made no manifestation.

In the “wee short hour” between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, however, the sound of hells again broke forth with undiminished violence, and in defiance of bellhangers and special detectives. An indescribable presence is said to have made itself manifest on the stairs of the hotel, dressed in most unghostly habiliments of black, to a couple of boys and a policemen, who were so much frightened by the appearance  that they are unable to give any account of the spirit’s disappearance. Of all the inmates of the house the cook, whom one would have thought the most material and unimaginative, has been most affected by the spiritual influence, and on Wednesday resigned leer comfortable situation with all its perquisites, and we believe has taken to bed seriously ill .

Meanwhile the house  is nightly crowded by hundreds of visitors, who, excited by curiosity, thirst of knowledge, or other desire, have been exorbitant in their . demand for spirits, to the no small profit of the, landlord, to whom the presence of his singular guest lees been as lucky as angels’ visits. At the same time, hundreds of people have thronged the streets and lanes outside anxious to obtain sight or hearing of the ghost Whatever else may be thought of it, this revival of the Cock Lane spirit has been and continues most successful as a sensation in drawing crowded houses.


“A ghost in Manchester!” – nonsense,” some of our readers will exclaim. But there is no ‘nonsense’ about the fact, for a ghostly form – whatever it is – has been seen on two successive evenings, and has frightened one man nearly out of his wits, while the whole neighbourhood has been-disturbed in the dead of night by the ghost-seer’s cries. Close to Brooks’s Bar runs Moss Lane, and in selecting this neighbourhood for the honour of a visit, the ghost has certainly shown some poetic taste. It appears that a portion of Moss Lane has been undermined by the bursting of a water-pipe, and the roadway for a length of about two roods is now broken in, and in course of repair.

The roadway has, in consequence of this, been blocked up for nearly a fortnight and from dusk to daylight fires have been kept burning in tripod fire baskets to prevent accidents. The man who has been tending these fires during the last fortnight is a little active-footed, wiry framed, wizened-faced man, and has for many years pursued the dreary calling of a night watchman. On Thursday night a constable, passing down the lane, found the watch-man busily engaged shovelling coal on to the fire basket. Near by stood one of the closed handcarts, in which gas men and watermen carry their tools.

“Hallo!” he shouted, “You’re just the man I want.” At the same time the shovel was dropped, and he hastily scratched his head preparatory to a long “spell.” The constable crossed the road and stood by the side of the fire basket; while the watchman, in a voice husky with fear, proceeded to tell him of the appearance of  a ghost between three and four that morning. Of course it was dressed all in white; but, unlike other ghosts, this one kept bobbing up and down in the roadway, a short distance beyond the other fire basket, while, at the same time, it kept its eyes fixed upon the watchman. After the ghost had disappeared, the alarmed “seer” knocked up a man belonging to a brewer’s yard not far off and after telling him he had seen a ghost, the two searched the whole neighbourhood, but could find no track of His Ghostship.

The watchman’s terror had been so great that persons residing in houses a short distance from where he stood, had been aroused from sleep by a most unearthly long-drawn “oh” which had escaped him. The constable laughed at the man’s story, but told him that years ago, he had heard, a man was murdered near the spot, and his spirit never could ‘settle’. The watchman repeated the word “settle” in the greatest alarm, and taking up an old-fashioned watchman’s rattle and an oak cudgel, he said he had brought those with him that night to ” nobble” the ghost with, but he thought he wouldn’t try that on, but shut himself up in the cart. This the watchman did, and the constable went on. Between twelve and one o’clock, however, the same night, while the constable was conversing with another officer at the corner of a road some distance off, both were alarmed at the sound of the watchman’s rattle.

They immediately  ran to where he was standing, the very spot where one of the constables had seen him an hour or two previously, and where he was furiously shaking the rattle. The noise had aroused some of the inmates in the neighbouring houses, and heads were hastily thrust through open windows. The brewer’s man, also startled by the rattle had got up, and he together with the two constables, reached the spot where the watchman was standing. at the same moment. The watchman was in a state of the greatest alarm, and pointing  his finger up Moss Lane towards the Chorlton Road, kept on shouting, “ There it is! There it is!” One of the constables stopped, looked in the direction whence the man pointed, and exclaimed, “By gem, there  it is and it’s coming this way; we’d better shunt, lads.”

So saying the three made a hasty movement, calling out to the watchman as they ran to “nobble” it. But the watchman thought discretion was the better part of valour, he seized his stick, the rattle, and his breakfast can, and ran after the others as fast as his legs would carry him. he soon overtook them and was about to pass them, when they called upon him to stop. His reply was, “No, No, my names hoff,” and he was quickly out of sight. More than half a mile from this he was met, still running, by a gentleman who was returning home, who called upon him to stop, but he shouted out, “I’ve seen a ghost, and I can’t stop.” Nor did he stop until he had reached the city. In the course of yesterday he waited upon his employer, and after telling his story, he positively refused, on any consideration, to “watch” at the spot another night That evening another man was watching, and he laughed heartily as he bore testimony to the truth of our story. We have no doubt that his, predecessor saw his own form reflected in the flame from the fire basket, and this gave rise to his ghost story; nevertheless, the truth of his tale is believed in by many of the more credulous residents in the neighbourhood.


Desperately Seeking Rudolph, Part 1.
Chris Aubeck

From Magonia 79, October 2002.

This article describes my attempts to trace an incident of `time travel’ or ‘teleportation’ that allegedly took place in New York many years ago. The paper trail that led me to the original source is a classic example of how labyrinthine such searches can be. Oddly enough, the paper trail begins not in New York but in Spain.

An untimely death

I first became aware of the case of Rudolph Fentz when I read an article in the Spanish magazine Más Allá. “Regreso al futuro en el corazon de Manhattan” (Back to the Future in the Heart of Manhattan) was a six-page report written by researcher Carlos Canales, co-author of two well-researched books dealing with supernatural themes in folklore and legend. [1] The article told one of the most amazing stories of ‘teleportation’ I had ever read. The gist of it was as follows:

It was about 11:30pm on an unspecified day in June, 1950. The night was warm and the streets of New York were still full of people as they made their way home after an evening at the cinema, at the theatre or dining in one of Manhattan’s fine restaurants.

One young man, however, stood out from the rest. He was dressed elegantly enough, but in a style that looked old-fashioned, even archaic. Walking quickly, the strange figure seemed preoccupied by everything he saw around him, as if he were lost and looking frantically for something he could recognise. He was also quite oblivious to the passing traffic, as became immediately apparent when he dashed across a busy intersection near Times Square and was hit almost instantly by an automobile. The impact was such that the man was killed outright. A crowd of horrified pedestrians gathered on the curb to see his limp body, his peculiarly tailored clothes no doubt spattered with blood, until the police arrived to take him away.

Nothing about the dead man’s appearance looked normal. He had been wearing a long black coat and an impeccable waistcoat that not even the old-timers would be seen wearing – and this gentleman had probably been in his late twenties. The cloth from which his clothes was made was uncommonly thick, especially for that time of year. More disconcerting than this were the shoes on his feet: narrow, pointed at the toes and with a metal buckle, the people at the morgue had never seen anything like them. But the oddest thing was what they found in his pockets. The deceased was carring an amount of money – antique bills – and several business cards bearing the name “Rudolf Fenz.” There was also a letter, addressed to someone of the same name with a New York address … but postmarked in 1876! Naturally, they presumed the dead man was himself Rudolf Fenz.

A team of specialists were employed to find out who Fenz was. First they checked for his name in the records, but to no avail, there was nobody of that name living in the address on the cards and on the letter. The telephone directories listed no Rudolf Fenz and he was not a registered driver. Even more bizarrely, the name did not appear in any medical or dentist records. The fact that ‘Rudolf Fenz’ was a German name led them to contact the immigration services but still they found no trace of him. The Federal Republic of Germany could not offer any clucs, and nor could the Swedes or the Austrians.

A few weeks after the accident, the name of ‘Rudolf Fenz, Jr.’ was found in a phone book dating to 1939. Hoping this person would turn out to be a relative of the deceased Mr. Fenz, the police investigators went to the address that appeared in the directory, but there they were told that Rudolf Fenz, Jr., had died some years before. In any case, this Fenz would have been more than 70 years old at the time of the accident and the body they found was that of a young man.

Progress was made finally by Hubert V. Rihn of New York’s Missing Persons Bureau. He managed to track down Fentz Jr.’s widow. She was able to tell him that her deceased husband’s father had disappeared in 1976 when he went out for a smoke (Mrs. Fentz had not shared her husband’s fondness for tobacco). He had gone out for a walk and simply never came back. Nothing was ever heard of him again. After this, Rihn checked his department’s files for the year 1876, and there he found a document relating to the disappearance of Fenz and a photograph of the same. Rihn could not believe his eyes. The young man in the photo was identical to the one that had died nbar Times Square!



The article by Canales was not a literary invention or, regrettably, an original investigation, but rather the synthesis of a variety of sources, including several internet articles in Spanish. Two Spanish books mentioned the case prior to Canales’ article, and these also provided him with further details for his report: Enigmas Sin Resolver (1999), [2] written by journalist Iker Jiménez, and Los Enigmas Pendientes, by the late Joaquin Gómez Burón. [3] The latter was the earliest source, but it was published twice: first in 1979 and then in 1991.

Over a period of twelve months I managed to collect nine or ten summaries of the Fenx case from the internet but I soon discovered that information about the story was scarce outside the World Wide Web. None of the popular books dealing with time travel or teleportation that I would usually consult made any reference to Fenz at all, and enquiries to some of the major UFO and Fortean journals revealed that the case was practically unknown outside Spain. [4]

This was a strong indication that the whole incident was likely to be a piece of fiction, for a paranormal incident in which the evidence included a police report, a corpse (and presumably a burial), authentic documents and a photograph, would very quickly become famous and hotly debated, at least in esoteric circles. In fact, it would be irrefutable proof of the scientific reality of time travel. There would be whole books devoted to the case, perhaps even a museum.

But no, as I found out early on, the Rudolf Fenz case had seemingly come out of nowhere to be published in Spain in 1979. Even the one article written in English, In The Wink of an Eye: Mysterious Disappearances (1996) by Scott Corrales, had based its summary of the Fenz case on Burón’s book. And, like Carlos Canales after him, Joaquim Gómez Buron provided no source for his information (the short ‘bibliography’ being just a list of titles by popular authors such as Bergier and Kolosimo, without dates or names of publishers).

For some time it looked doubtful that an earlier source would emerge until I had traced all of Gómez Buron’s sources. Meanwhile I was able to compare and contrast the different versions available to me. Reading through the texts that I found on the internet I began to see that, although a great deal of agreement existed, the inconsistencies between one account and another gave the impression that each writer had contributed something new.

In one version, Fenz is seen running along the Fifth Avenue to his doom; in another, he materializes in the middle of the street in front of the car. In some versions the time was 11:30pm, in others 11:15pm, and in another 11:10pm. In his pockets Fenz either carried coins or dollar bills, or both. Sometimes the FBI is called in, sometimes it was a matter for the Missing Persons Division alone.

There are versions in which Hubert Rihn is the only investigator, and others in which teams of criminal experts use the latest technology to look into the case. In some renditions of the story Rihn visits the address given on the envelope and finds it is a store, in others it is a house. One article holds that when Fenz vanished in 1876 his family spent a great deal of money searching for him. In a few accounts Rihn solves the case when he sees an antique photograph of the young man, though most versions say that all he finds is a written description of the clothes Rudolf Fenz had been wearing the night he disappeared.

More agreement exists on the issue of the witnesses to the accident. Iker Jimenez writes that “scores of evewitness reports” were gathered by the police, though unfortunately he does not quote from any. [5] Burón does not claim there were so many witnesses but he does note that one of them said they had seen the dead pedestrian “attending… the last performance of the day” at one of the theatres a short time before. Canales nods in agreement and adds that, with this one exception, all the witnesses were unanimous in their statements – “Fenz seemed confused, as if he had suddenly appeared in a strange, remote place,” he writes. [6]

The article written by Canales is particularly interesting because he contributes an item of news unknown to everyone else: “The recent discovery of a letter addressed to the late Fenz from a trader in Pittsburgh, in the state of Pennsylvania (USA), has strengthened the theory [involving time travel] about what happened on New York’s Fifth Avenue in the last days of spring, 1950, and it is possible that it will one day enable us to understand our still mysterious world.” [7]

Unfortunately, that letter has never been published. In fact, as Canales admitted to me later, it was only ever mentioned during an internet ‘forum’ in Mexico – not the most suitable of sources for a datum of such importance. But was it a mere flight of fantasy? The answer to this question will be become apparent below.

One of the most interesting areas of disagreement concerns the spelling of the names of the ‘time traveller’ and of the police officer who led the im-estigation. Was it Rudolf or Rudolph? Fenz or Fentz, or possibly Fens? Hubert Rihn – or Rihm, or Rhin? Each of these names has been used at some time. This would be less significant if we were not looking for authentic information about supposedly real people. However, the writers who present the case as fact never mention this inconsistency.

A search for names

My first port of call was the United States Social Security database, available on line at various locations. I fist checked the database for the name “Rudolf Fenz.” It produced an immediate result: RUDOLF FENZ. Residence: 60645 Chicago, Cook, IL. Born: 5 March 1909. Died: April 1976.

Unfortunately, the dates did not fit. The Fenz of our storv had been 29 in 1876, and died in 1950, so we would logically expect to find a birth date of c.1847. A search in a different direction revealed that there is also a Rudolf Fenz, an engineer, alive and well and living in Germany today. Then I checked various databases for the name ‘Rudolph Fenz’ but there were no results at all. I tried again using ‘Rudolf Fentz’ and ‘Rudolph Fentz’ but there was nothing to be found. The surnames had existed but not attached to those Christian names. In a file of ‘Marriage Registers, Extracts from Manhattan (1869-1880) [8] 1 did come across a Franz Rudolph who lived in Manhattan and who married one Fridricka Winner in 1869, but I decided this was unlikely to be connected with the case.

I next sought references to Hubert Rihn, the man supposedly in charge of the police investigation in New York. There was no reference to anyone of that name. I tried Herbert Rihn (just in case), and then combinations of these names with Rihm, Rhin and Rhim. Nothing. Going through all the names attached to Rihn and Rihm one by one I did find a possible candidate by the name of Herman Kihm: Last residence: Ridgeview Ave., Cincinnati OH. Birth: 14 December 1912 in Mannheim, Germany Death: 23 June 1993 in Cincinnati, Hamilton Co. OH.”

The dates seemed okay, but that was about all. There was a little extra information in the file, which dispelled any doubt I had at that moment: “Medical Information: Cause of Death: Carbon monoxide poisoning. Married: 16 May 1939 [to] Emma Kopp b: 3 November 1916. Note: Herman and Emma met while working at a German newspaper in Cincinnati. Herman was a linotype operator, Emma was an editorial assistant. The newspaper, Die Frie Press [or rather, Die Freie Presse] (The Free Press) disbanded at the outset of World War Two.”

This Rihm was not a policeman but a linotype operator. [9] I made a mental note to check up on the number of German newspapers published in the United States, but not in connection with the Fenz case. In fact I was wondering whether any of the members of the Project 1947 group, who systematically scanned the early press for UFO reports, had examined the German newspapers printed in the USA.

This failure to trace either Fentz or Rihn through the official records is an important indication that neither man ever existed, at least in the time frame established in the narrative. It goes without saying that there was no ‘Rudolf Fenz Junior’ listed anywhere, either, for any period between 1850 and 2002 (alternative spellings included).

In April 2002 1 received confirmation from both the New York Public Library (Humanities and Social Sciences Library, Room 121, Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, New York NY 10018-2788) and the New York State Library (Albany, NY 12230) that neither Hubert Rihn/Rihm nor, Rudolph/Rudolf Fentz/Fenz were listed in any New York telephone directory between 1939 and 1941. In May the same year I received a communication from Walter Burnes of the New York Police Division telling me that after searching their database they had been “unable to find any information on a Captain Hubert V. Rihm having served with the NYPD and/or the Missing Persons Bureau.”

Early sources

After six months of research and enquiries I finally came upon a book predating Gomez Burón’s wherein Rudolf Fenz is mentioned. It turns out that Jacques Bergier and Georges H. Gallet discuss the case at some length in their Le Livre du Mystere, a typical collection of enigmas and supernatural experiences published in Paris in 1975. To his credit, Gomez Burón did include this book in his general bibliography but there had been no reference to it in the main text and I had not been able to track it down. Partly this was because this book by Bergier is not very well known, but also because it is extraordinarily difficult to obtain particular out-of-print titles in Spain. In any case, I eventually did manage to obtain it, first in Spanish (1977) [10] and later in French (1975). [11].

The version given by Bergier and Gallet concentrates mostly on the investigations carried out by ‘Captain Hubert V. Rihm’ of the Missing Persons Division. Now retired, they write, Rihm no longer has access to the police report he once filed but can remember enough details to describe most of the ins and outs of the case. In most respects this version corresponds with those we have already seen, though not entirely. The time of the accident is given as “approximately” 11:15pm. “Rudolph Fentz” is first seen in the doorway of a theatre in the middle of a large crowd, although paradoxically “nobody saw him go down the street.” He is next seen in the middle of the road, where he is hit by a taxi. A policeman spotted him from the street corner but could not reach him on time. The dead man’s fingerprints were taken but did not match with any known to specialists either in New York or in Washington.

More details about Rihm’s investigation are provided. After finding Rudolph Fentz Jr. listed in the 1939 telephone directory Captain Rihm goes to the address given and there finds out that Fentz had been around 60 years old in 1939 and worked at a local bank. He had retired in 1940 and moved away. At the bank Rihm was informed that the man had died in 1945 but that his widow was still living in Florida.

A letter from Fentz Jr.’s widow told Rihm that her father-in-law had disappeared when he went out one night for a smoke, and that the family had spent a great deal of money trying to locate him, in vain.

This version was now the earliest I had seen. The Spanish translator of Le Livre du Mystere, Marisa Olivera, had rendered the name of the missing man ‘Rudolf’ to make it more familiar for Spanish readers (a common but regrettable practice), while Hubert Rihm’s name was not altered. This meant that the name ‘Rihn’ had originated as a mistake in Burón’s book, as did the name ‘Fenz’, leading other writers to make the same mistake in later years. The only North American reference to the case, we recall, is in Scott Corrales’ In the Wink of an Eye, that also has ‘Rudolf Fenz’.

The next question was, of course, What was Bergier’s and Gallet’s source’? Fortunately, this was not a difficult question. Their book had been pieced together mainly from articles published in an Italian magazine, Il Giornale dei Misteri, and the Fentz article had been published there.

The paper chase

Bergier and Garret drew their information from Il Giornale dei Misteri, an Italian magazine devoted to these kinds of matters. A quick enquiry to the research group to which I belong and have mentioned above, Project 1947, produced a response from researcher Bruno Mancusi telling me the precise edition of the magazine: number 36, March 1974, p.24. I now have a copy of that article in my possession, thanks to Edoardo Russo at CISU.

But that is not all. The article in the Italian journal contains a brief but important bibliographical reference: ‘Fakta. no. l, 1973′.

At the time I had no idea what this referred to. Was there an Italian magazine with that name’? A French journal? Ole Jenny Braenne of UFO-Norge came to my rescue. Fakta? (‘Facts?’) was a Norwegian magazine! Braenna informed me that on pages 11-12 of Fakta? number 1. 1973, there was an article entitled “Uforklarlige forflytninger og forsvinninger,” which translated means “Unexplained teleportations and disappearances.” I have a copy of this article in my possession, now, too.

Page 12 is devoted to the ‘Rudolph Fentz’ story – note the spelling. ‘Rihm’ is the spelling of the policeman’s name (“Kaptein Hubert V. Rihm”). These are the original versions of their names, as we shall see. Another curious addition was the information that the letter Fentz carried in his pocket was “poststamplet juni 1876 i Philadelphia” – that is, it was postmarked “Philadelphia 1876.” Was this the origin of the supposed “letter addressed to the late Fenz from a trader in Pittsburgh, in the state of Pennsylvania” that Canales had read about in the internet forum? It is worth considering, as there is no way such a letter could have been “discovered recently”. Unless it had been addressed to Mr Rudolf Fenz (1909-1976) of Chicago, Illinois!

On page 11 the article deals with a mysterious disappearance in Nanking (1939) and the story of the ‘mass teleportation’ of a whole regiment in Gallipoli in 1915, a well-known but untrue tale. More interesting than this, however, was the bibliographical reference ‘Arcanum, January 1973.’

Was Arcanum another Norwegian magazine? No, it turns out that Fakta? had taken the article from a Swedish magazine of that name. So far I had been able to trace the story of Rudolph Fentz from Spain to France, from France to Italy, then to Norway. Now it seemed the story may have originated in Sweden…

Anders Liljegren came to the rescue. Mr Liljegren is a UFO researcher but also the archivist for AFU-Sweden (Archives For UFO Research), one of the largest UFO libraries in Europe. In an e-mail he told me that issue 99 of Breveirkeln Arcanum. January 1973, contained an article entitled “Into unknown country,” which, of course, discussed the same ‘teleportation’ cases as the Facta? article. The author of the 4-page article was Lennart Lind, an occultist and ufologist. Lind interpreted the three stories in an esoteric way, with theories about “the 4th dimension” and “time holes” from Ralph M. Holland, Marian Harthill and -Mvron.’ No references to sources were provided in the article, but there were quotes from the journal of the Borderland Sciences Research Foundation (BSRF), and Liljegren felt that the information had probably come from there.

The BSRF is based in California. The paper chase had apparently taken me back to an English language source, where one automatically supposes a story set in New York and involving the New York police should be.


In 1945, occultist theorist N. Meade Layne (1883-1961) founded the Borderland Sciences Research Associates (later ‘Foundation’) and a quarterly publication called Round Robin, a booklet dedicated to the examination of supernatural phenomena. Layne is acknowledged to be one of the first theorists on ufological matters, making public statements about the phenomenon in 1946 in the wake of a sighting in San Diego on October 9th that year.

Before the world’s press began publishing reports on `flying saucers’ in the summer of 1947, Meade and his colleague, medium Mark Probert (d. 1969), had already proclaimed the objects were “ether ships” from the “fourth dimension.” Technically speaking, therefore, the BSRF is the oldest flying saucer group in existence, though according to a letter written by a much later director, James Borges, the group de-emphasised UFOs in their work in the 1970s in order to focus on scientific experimentation. [12]

The term ’round robin’ had been used for years in a slightly different context. It originally referred to a creative game in which one person starts a story and other people take turns adding to it, with no fixed plot. Although this was not what Meade Layne had in mind for his journal, it is, ironically, the simplest possible description of the process by which many tales, like Fentz’s, are developed. In 1959 the name of the publication was changed to The Journal of Borderland Research. The organization, which is still active today, describes the publication as “an information resource for scholars and researchers on the frontiers of science and awareness.”

As there was no reference to a particular issue of Round Robin or the Borderland Journal it seemed it was going to be a long job to find one article amongst almost thirty years of publication history. There was no guarantee that the Fentz story had come from there, either. I was, therefore, delighted when Anders Liljegren wrote and told me that he had located the issue in question. Fortunately it was not such an arduous task, as it had been published in the May-June 1972 edition of The Journal of Borderland Research (Volume 28), on pages 15 to 19. Was this the earliest version of the Fentz story? Anders sent me a copy of the article a few days later.




Desperately Seeking Rudolph, Part 2.
Chris Aubeck

A Voice from the Gallery

The report consisted of two parts of unequal length. Pages 15 and 16 dealt with Fentz while the rest discussed the esoteric significance of such mysteries, introducing three cases that had not been mentioned in the articles published in Norway and Sweden. We will look at these later. The most significant detail, however, was the way the story of Fentz was presented. The heading of the article was: The Voice from the Gallery: By the late Ralph M Holland. From Colliers.

This seemed to indicate that the article had been taken directly from the popular American magazine Collier’s, but as no date or issue number was mentioned I was unable to trace it. But I decided that this was probably not necessary, as another source was mentioned: A Voice in the Gallery, number 4, 1953.

The Borderland writer – Vincent H. Gaddis – states that “From Holland’s ‘A Voice in the Gallery,’ No.4, 1953 until March 1969 we had to wait for the occult explanation of the Fentz disappearance and reappearance,” so I suspected that the Collier‘s article would have been identical to the Borderland Journal version. The inclusion of an exact bibliographical reference, plus the fact that Ralph M. Holland is presented as its author, implied that the text about Fentz was copied verbatim from the original.

Unfortunately, editions of A Voice from the Gallery (the correct name of the booklet, according to a reliable source I will cite below) are very rare and I have yet to see any of them. There was no doubt in my mind that this was the earliest published source, and the ‘paper trail’ lead me to the inevitable conclusion that all later renditions of the story stemmed from this one. The following is a transcription of the article precisely as presented in The Journal of Borderland Research:

“One night in June 1950 an oddly dressed man was seen in Times Square in New York City -which eventually led to the most baffling mystery in the history of the New York Police Department.

“Captain Hubert V. Rihm was in the Missing Persons Bureau at the time, and took an active part in the investigation. He is now retired and, since he does not have the records of the case in his possession, could not quote exact dates and addresses in all instances. He did, however, remember the main details. It was somewhere near the middle of the month, about 11:15 p.m., right at the height of the after-theatre traffic rush.

“The man appeared to be about 30 years of age. His most noticeable feature, aside from his clothing, was a luxuriant set of mutton-chop whiskers, which went out of style many years ago. He wore a high silk hat, a cutaway coat with cloth covered buttons at the back, and a high cut vest with lapels. The trousers were black and white checked material, rather tight, without cuffs and pressed without a crease. He wore high button shoes.

“No one saw him walk out into the street. Witnesses first noticed him standing in the middle of the intersection ‘gawking at the signs as if he’d never seen an electric sign before’. Then he seemed to become aware of the traffic and began to make frantic movements to dodge it. The police officer at the corner saw him, and started out to lead him to safety. Before he could reach him, the man made a sudden dash for the curb. A taxicab hit him, and he was dead when they picked him up.

“The attendants at the morgue took the whiskers and the clothing in their stride. One meets some odd characters during 20 or 30 years on the force, some of them much odder than he. When they began to search his pociets [sic], their brows began to wrinkle. ‘One brass slug, good for one 5 cent beer’. The name of the saloon was unfamiliar even to the old timers.

“One bill from a livery stable on Lexington Ave.: ‘to the feeding and stabling of one horse, and the washing of one carriage; $3.00′, The name of the stable did not appear in the directory. ‘About $70 in currency, all old style notes, and including two gold certificates.’ ‘Cards bearing the name ‘Rudolph Fentz’ and an address on Fifth Ave., with a letter to the same name and address, postmarked in Philadelphia June 1876′ None of the items showed any signs of age.

“The Fifth Ave. address was a store. So far as the present occupants knew, it had always been a store. None of them had ever heard of ‘Rudolph Fentz’.

“The name did not appear in the directory. A fingerprint check, both in New York and Washington brought no results. No one ever called, or made enquiries at the morgue. Capt. Rihm continued to investigate the case. He checked back through old phone books, looking for the name ‘Fentz’. Finally, in the 1939 directory, he found a ‘Rudolph Fentz Jr.’ with an uptown apartment address. They remembered Fentz at the apartment: a man in his 60s, who worked at a nearby bank. He had retired in 1940 and moved away. They had not heard from him since.

“At the bank, Rihm learned that Fentz had died about 5 years before, but that his widow was still alive in Florida. In reply to Rihm’s letter, she said that her husband’s father had mysteriously disappeared sometime during the spring of 1876. it seems that Mrs. Fentz, Sr. didn’t like to have him smoke in the house. She thought it smelled up the curtains. So it had been his custom to go out for a walk every evening about 10 and enjoy a final cigar before retiring. One night he went out as usual and never returned. The family spent quite a bit of money trying to find him but he was never seen or heard of again.

“Capt. Rihm found Rudolph Fentz listed in the Missing Persons file for 1876. The address given was the same as that appearing on the cards and letter, so the place was evidently a private residence at that time. He was 29 years of age, and wore mutton chop whiskers. The description of the clothing which he was wearing when last seen agreed exactly with that worn by the mysterious traffic victim. The case was still listed as `’unsolved’.

“Captain Rihm never wrote the results of his private investigations into the official records. He didn’t dare! They’d have had him in the ‘nut factory’ for a mental checkup in nothing flat! After all, a man can’t just walk out into thin air in 1876 and then suddenly turn up, unchanged in any way, 74 years later! No one would believe a tale like that. He didn’t believe it himself, “but -give me some other explanation which will make sense”.

Thus reads the original version of the mystery according to Holland. A glance at the later renderings of the story show that the Bergier/Gallet version was the most complete summary of the case after Holland’s. The reason for this is that the Norwegian and Swedish articles upon which the Italian article was based had been translated practically word for word from the BSRF Journal. Had this not been the case, we can be sure the details would have been distorted much further by the time they were translated into Spanish.

Borderland Sciences proceeded to rationalize the Fentz incident from an esoteric perspective. According to the article, members of the Borderland Foundation gathered in March 1969 to contact ‘Myron of the Ashtar Command’ hoping to discover the mechanism that produces teleportations and strange disappearances. This was achieved through a medium or `channellcr’ called Marian Harthill.

This is not the place to discuss the complex world of the Ashtar Command. Suffice it to say that a contactee named George Wellington Van Tassel (b. 1910) claimed to have received psychic messages from an intergalactic fleet with this name, and wrote about it in a book called I Rode a Flying Saucer (1952). Van Tassel founded a group of followers, the Ministry of Universal Wisdom, and it all started there. It still exists today.

According to ‘Myron’, Rudolph Fentz’s leap through time was an example of what occurs when a person slips into the Fourth Dimension through a hole in the fabric of reality. Such holes – which are apparently random alignments between gaps in our dimension and in the Fourth – are especially common “in thinly populated areas or over your vast ocean stretches,” in the words of the Ashtar alien. Myron speaks of “ships sailing right through one hole and out another, while the crews are never found,” an inference to the Bermuda Triangle, a popular enigma at the time. Indeed, 1969 was also the year when John Spencer’s Limbo of the Lost was published, the first book entirely devoted to the Triangle.

The article spoke of another case, in which a steamship called Avalon disappeared during a voyage from Long Beach to Santa Catalina Island, off the coast of California. According to Vincent H. Gaddis, who provided his own account of the story, the steamer was seen again some 20 years later by the commander of a submarine, though a subsequent search failed to find it.

Gaddis had been an early member of the Fortean Society, a group founded in 1931 to examine the kinds of phenomena that Charles Fort (1874-1932) had collected for decades. It is a curious fact that Gaddis had published a round-up of contemporary UFO reports in the June 1947 issue of Amazing Stories – an article that was still on some newsstands when Kenneth Arnold made his famous sighting on the 24th of the same month.

Later, Gaddis wrote articles for the Borderland Journal and similar publications. One of these, in Argosy magazine in February 1964, coined a new term that was to become very popular: ‘Bermuda Triangle’. Although he had not been the first to write about the disappearance of ships and planes in the region of the Bermudas and Miami, or even the first to call it a ‘triangle’ (both doubtful honours belong to one George X. Sand, whose short article in hate entitled “Sea Mystery at our Back Door” discussed the enigma in October 1952), it was his expression that stuck in readers’ minds.

The other ‘teleportations’ mentioned in the article were the alleged (but untrue) 1880 “David Lang” mystery, and the (dubious) 1593 “Manila to Mexico’ incident. This is not the place to deal with these cases, of course

Ralph M. Holland

I decided that Ralph M. Holland was the author of the Rudolph Fenz story. But if this was so, who exactly was he? This question has two answers. It turns out that first we have to meet Ralph, and then his alter ego Rolf.

Ralph Merridette Holland was born in Youngstown, Ohio, on August 29th 1899. He lived there until 1914 when his family moved to Akron, Ohio. After attending two public schools he left at the age of 16 to start work. He continued to take classes, and finally received a degree in engineering, yet his first jobs were with local newspapers. His first job was with a German language newspaper in Akron, and later with the Akron Beacon Journal. There is no indication that he wrote articles for either of the two but rather that he worked ‘in the plant’ as his sister Dora G. Holland noted in his obituary. [13]

This set me thinking. If Holland had worked in a German language newspaper, could he possibly have met Herman Rihm, the linotype operator who had lived and worked in Ohio? While it is true that Rihm had worked on a German newspaper in Cincinnati, not in Akron, was it possible that the two men had actually met? Holland had only been thirteen years older than Herman Rihm, so it is possible that their paths had crossed. Considering the rarity of names resembling ‘Hubert Rihm’ in the first half of the twentieth century in North America, it continued to be an interesting, if indemonstrable, idea.

After his brief stint with the Akron Beacon Journal (a newspaper founded in 1897 and which still exists today), Holland turned to engineering as his main profession. He first worked at the B. F. Goodrich Rubber Company, then at similar firms, until he finally went to Scotland to help set up a rubber plant there. After this he returned to Ohio, later winding up in Detroit, where he worked as an engineer for the Detroit Edison Company. He spent the rest of his life working as an engineer, designing machinery. When he died of a heart attack on January 26th 1962 he was living in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

Returning to the German connection, it has struck many as odd that the two named characters in the Rudolph Fentz story had surnames of Germanic origin. Rihm and Fentz are common throughout Germany, Austria and Holland, as are Rudolph and Hubert. Did Ralph Holland have much contact with German immigrants in Ohio? The answer is that he could well have.

According to Dr. Don Heinrich Tolzman, the author of German-Americans in the World Wars (London, K. G. Saur 1995), the Census of 1910 had determined that nearly a third of the population of Cincinnati alone were of German stock (121,719 out of 363,591).[14] The German language was introduced into Cincinnati public schools at the beginning of the twentieth century. The Mayor of Cincinnati, himself a German-American, praised “German culture,” which had “contributed so much to the present greatness of Cincinnati that so long as the Queen City exists the name of the noble characters of its German citizens will stand forever.” [15]

In fact. there were dozens of German newspapers in the United States before World War II, and several in Ohio. 525 daily and weekly German newspapers were published in the U.S. in 1860, though by 2001 this had dropped to a mere 8. [16] In this context we should not be surprised that Ralph Holland chose German names for his characters, especially after his formal education in Ohio and his contact with German newspapers on leaving school.

If I was correct in my hypothesis, the question still remained about why Ralph Holland would have written a story about someone who had fallen through time in mysterious circumstances. I felt the explanation was not too complicated and that the key to the whole mystery lay therein.

“While in Detroit, Michigan,” wrote Dora Holland, “he studied journalism and became a freelance reporter, and still kept his press card and credentials after returning home, sending out many stories to wire services and magazines, sometimes under a pen name.” Holland’s main interest was paranormal phenomena, especially anything bordering on science fiction. “He was a member of the Borderland Sciences Research Associates for a number of years, as well as many other groups of a similar nature.”

UFOs became one of his favourite mysteries. “He was interested in our own life beyond our earthly one,” it says in his obituary, “as well as life on other planets, flying saucers, etc., ever searching for the truth.”

Holland was such an enthusiast for science fiction that he became a member of the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F), finally becoming its president, a post he held until his death. In 1935 he published several issues of his fanzine, The Science-Fiction Review, and in 1958 he was the co-editor of the first issue of Fantasy Aspects, another science fiction fanzine. He published a small book called Ghu’s Lexicon in the 1950s (“Ghu” being a fantasy character invented in the 1930s). Also, of course, he published A Voice From the Gallery, described by his sister as a series of booklets full of “many unusual or out of the way stories or events.”

Dora Holland tells in her obituary that her brother was constantly  “… in search for the truth, sorting fact from fake, before he would pass the information on.” However, it is clear that she was either quite credulous in this respect or not telling the whole truth, for she knew that Ralph Holland had also published some very fishy ‘factual’ material under the pseudonym of Rolf Telano.

“Rolf Telano,” the extraterrestrials and the Underworld

The first indication that Ralph M. Holland was not all he seemed came to me in the form of a letter dated 1964, a copy of which was forwarded to me by Anders Liljegren.

It happened that Miss Edith Nicolaisen, owner of the Parthenon publishing company in Helsingborg, Sweden, specialists in contactee literature, read A Spacewoman Speaks, a UFO book written by one ‘Rolf Telano’ and decided she wanted to publish it in Swedish. She wrote a letter to Telano on March lst 1962 care of Harriet P. Foster in Del Mar, California, whose address had been provided by its English language publisher, Understanding Publishing Co. A reply from Dora Holland was received at the beginning of June. In the letter Dora said that it was okay to publish the book as long as her deceased brother’s desire for anonymity was respected by the publisher. Nicolaisen agreed, and before the year was through Lanner i universum (‘Friends in the Universe’) was printed and sold in Sweden. The book became a success, at least in the world of UFO literature.

A Spacewoman Speaks was a 93-page text that Holland/Telano claimed to have received in 1954 from an extraterrestrial called Borealis. It had first been published in 1960 by the Understanding Publishing Co., owned by another notorious contactee, Daniel Fry. According to Holland, Borealis was a member of an ancient race of extraterrestrials who first came across the Earth thousands of years ago. These beings had an average life span of a thousand years and were reincarnated constantly. When they saw the planet was inhabitable they started to breed people by carefully selecting parents and developing them biologically in subterranean laboratories called Edens. This improved species was called the Adam and it is from this race that human beings have descended.

A Spacewoman Speaks goes into much greater detail about subterranean beings and monsters, alien gods, Lemuria and Atlantis. A number of Adam-beings that chose to remain below the ground and not rise to the surface rebelled against their nature, indulging in continuous orgies and other vices. These are the devils feared by men today. The creators saved as many of them as they could and sealed the rest of them inside their grottos, where groups of them still live today.

Of course, considering the period in which Holland was writing we should not be surprised by these ‘revelations.’ A variety of colourful mystics and channellers had been publishing psychic messages about subterranean worlds and Atlantean demigods for decades. [17] In the late nineteenth century Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) had written about vast caverns under the ground and the origin of the human race at points situated near the North Pole and on the lost continents of Lemuria and Atlantis. The “Lords of the Flame,” she said, were divine masters living on Venus.

Annie Besant, her successor as the head of the Theosophical Society, believed the next race would rise from the most spiritual residents of Southern California, a new Lemuria, and in the distant future yet another version of humanity would appear on Mercury.

Between 1884 and 1886 Frederick S. Oliver wrote A Dweller on Two Planets, a text that he claimed had been channelled through him by Phylos, a thrice-reincarnated native of Atlantis. Oliver explained that there was a subterranean world beneath California’s famous Mount Shasta. In his last mortal incarnation as a gold miner called Walter Pierson. Phylos is flown to Venus in his astral body to receive the secrets of the universe. Oliver’s book inspired the founder of The Rosicrucians to write Lemuria: the Lost Continent of the Pacific in 1931, which was not only more of the same but actually included references to strange flying lights and boats that were identical to modem UFOs.

In 1934 mining engineer called Guy Warren Ballard published Unveiled Mysteries, a book which described his encounters with the Comte de Saint-Germain. The notorious Count took him to a series of magnificent chambers 2000 feet beneath Wyoming, where he saw great mounds of gold that had been saved from Atlantis before it sank. When a sequel, The Magic Presence, was published, Ballard went on to write about a fantastic radio that he had seen below Colorado which the Masters could use to communicate with other cities and other planets.

However, the greatest influence on Holland was probably Richard Sharpe Shaver (c.1908-1975), a science fiction writer whose strange tales were published in the popular magazine Amazing Stories in the 1940s. They were, of course, presented as fact, and they stirred up strong reactions from the very beginning. Although many of the stories were authored by the editor of the magazine himself, Ray Palmer, only the name of Richard Shaver was attached to them. When the first full-length story, ‘I Remember Lemuria!’ was published in March 1945 the issue sold out immediately and interest in the lost continents was reawakened.

Shaver’s version of the history of the Earth differed very little from that of his predecessors. Thousands of years ago, he said, the world was colonized by a race of extraterrestrial beings. They set up their first base on Atlantis, and are thus remembered as Atlans (or Titans). They enjoyed lifespans of thousands of years but never grew old, and possessed a superior technology which allowed them to travel at the speed of light and breed new forms of life.

Some of the creatures they made were monsters but one group became the ancestors of Mankind. After some time Atlan scientists discovered that the sun was changing and had begun to poison the Earth’s atmosphere with a deadly radiation. Terrestrial conditions got so bad that the whole Atlan race was driven below the ground, but even there they felt the effects of the radiation. Finally they decided there was only one way to survive: to search for a new home near a less hostile sun.

When the Atlans boarded their spaceships and flew away they left many of their genctically modified creatures behind. Some of these adapted to the terrestrial atmosphere and evolved into human beings. Others remained underground, degenerating into a race of evil dwarves called the Dero. In his writings, Shaver blamed the Dero for nearly everything bad that ever happened on Earth. They had provoked most of the world’s conflicts and disasters. Their antics had led to the crucifixion of Christ and the assassination of Kennedy, to name but two of their successes.

Ralph Holland, an editor of science fiction fanzines and a man who later became the president of N3F, would not only have been familiar with the best-selling Amazing Stories magazine but would probably have read the writings of Shaver’s imitators, too. Maurice Doreal came up with very similar stories from 1946 on (publishing booklets with titles such as The Inner Earth and Mysteries of Mt. Shasta), as did W. C. Hefferlin (a reincarnated Ancient whose tales about extraterrestrials, the underworld and the origin of humanity were published in 1947 and 1948 in fragments by the Borderland Sciences group, of which Holland was a member).

A Spacewoman Speaks was not Holland’s first book on UFOs. In 1952 the Borderland Sciences group published another, less philosophical work by him, The Flying Saucers. This was a description of the different kinds of UFOs known to exist. On this occasion, too, Holland/Telano claimed that the information had been channelled to him telepathically by Borealis. On both occasions Holland chose to remain anonymous.

Daniel Fry also published Holland/Telano’s A Spacewoman Speaks as a supplement of his own book, The White Sands Incident. Here, Fry uses the ‘channelled’ messages from Borealis to support his own claim he had met the space-people himself. Fry claimed that his first close encounter took place on July 4th 1950 (later changed to 1949 when it was shown that he had not been there on that date) at the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico, where he worked as a rocket test technician. They invited him aboard their craft and took him on a round trip to New York to demonstrate their powers.

According to Fry, the entire 4000-mile round trip took just thirty minutes, which meant that they had travelled at an amazing 8000 miles an hour. Fry was impressed. After this promising start, however, the rest of the tale differed little from all the other contactee claims: the extralerrestrials explained that their ancestors had lived on Lemuria tens of thousands of years before, and humanity owes its existence to them.

Daniel Fry called himself ‘Dr Daniel Fry,’ which is how his name appears on his books. He claimed that he had been awarded a “Ph.D. from Saint Andrews College of London, England,” but it was shown that the title had been acquired from a correspondence school and had no academic value whatsoever. In fact, no such college is formally recognized in London, and Fry’s ‘dignity degree’ of ‘Doctor of Philosophy (Cosmism)’ is patently absurd. [18]

When Dora Holland wrote to Miss Nicolaisen on June 1st 1964 she expressed a strong desire to keep her brother’s true identity secret. Ralph Holland had not wanted anyone to know that he was so deeply interested in science fiction, for this would have ruined his claims about aliens from space and subterranean monsters. His sister understood this perfectly, although whether she believed his fantasies were true or not is impossible to say. She certainly defended his honesty as a writer in her letter, just as one would expect in an obituary:

“I am sorry that I am so late in [replying], but press of other matters has kept me from it. Then too, I was trying to think of just how to answer, for I knew my brother’s desire for anonymity, and felt if he had wanted such a sketch of publicity, he surely would have presented it himself at the time. A Spacewoman Speaks was published here in the States.

“I note that you state you will keep his name as “Rolf Telano”, for which I am very glad… He had been interested in Science Fiction for a number of years, and was president of the National Fantasy Fan Federation at the time of the death – this is the connection he did not deem advisable to use in connection with his book or other similar interests lest his work in that connection be discredited as a result – and he was a most dedicated man and sincere in his beliefs. I hope nothing will be used to discredit him or his work in this connection, and have only mentioned it because you did include it in vour letter … “

We are left with a very confusing image of Ralph Holland indeed. ‘Contactee’, science fiction enthusiast, journalist, engineer – a man of many talents.

An unexpected twist

In July 2002 I contacted the Akron Beacon Journal, the newspaper where Holland had worked when he was young, in case they could provide me with a photo or some additional information about the ‘father’ of the legend. I received a reply a few days later, telling me that their archives did not go back so far, so they could not help me. However, the letter did say that a journalist named Paula Schleis could be interested in writing an article about Holland based on the information I had accumulated so far.

Thus, the same newspaper in which Holland had worked published an article about my investigations. “Clock runs out on long-told story of time traveler” was published by the Akron Beacon Journal on August 12th 2002. To be honest, I felt satisfied with my efforts and now I only hoped that a reader of the article, perhaps a resident of Akron, could provide me with some interesting information about the origins of the legend I’d been researching for so many months …

I didn’t have to wait very long. On August 13th I received a letter from Reverend George Murphy, a minister in Akron, who confessed to be a great science-fiction fan. He told me that he was sure he had heard the Fentz story before, including all the names and details about the police investigation. Yet he had never heard of Ralph Holland, nor Rolf Telano, and he had never read A Voice from the Gallery, either. It set him thinking, and soon he remembered who had told exactly the same story … in 1951!

Jack Finney

In 1951 a writer named Jack Finney published a curious short story in the September 15th edition of the American magazine Colliers. The tale was about a certain Rudolph Fentz who was transported from the Nineteenth Century to the Twentieth, and a detective called Hubert Rihm who investigated the case.

Yes, that’s right, it was the same story. It did not originate with Holland but with someone else entirely! George Murphy sent me a copy of what was evidently the original version of the Fentz legend. Jack Finney’s 12-page tale, entitled ‘I’m Scared’, was a compilation of several fictional anecdotes about people who have experienced spontaneous time travel. I discovered that Finney had designated the Rudolph Fcntz enigma as the last of these, numbered – case 111. For the first time I read that Captain Hubert V. Rihm was a fat, red-faced 66 year old police officer, and that at the end of the story the narrator offers his own theory about what probably happens in such cases: that sometimes, due to the pressures of living in the modern world, one’s wishes to flee from one’s own time and space are granted.

And who was Jack Finney?

Finney was a prolific writer of science fiction stories, especially stories of time travel. He was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on October 2nd 1911, but he spent his infancy in Chicago. He published his first short story in 1946 and many of his later works were made into films, including The Body Snatchers, which was published in Colliers in December 1954. He died in 1995, at the age of 84, of pneumonia and emphysema.

A second article about the Fentz legend, updated with the new information, was published on August 19th 2002 in the Beacon Journal.

A Personal Opinion

Having spent a long time searching for the original sources of the Fentz story I have come to the conclusion that Ralph Holland’s article in A Voice from the Gallery, while not being where the tale first appeared, was the source of the legend in Europe. When it was confirmed that Jack Finney was the creator of Rudolph Fentz I felt that the goose chase had been worth it after all. Whether deliberately or accidentally, Holland had set off a chain reaction that had kept the mystery alive for almost exactly fifty years – from ‘I’m Scared’ (1951) and A Voice from the Gallery (1953) to Carlos Cauales’ article (2000) and my own (2002).

It is curious that Holland’s interest in Finney’s tale came one year after his first ‘channelled’ book about flying saucers and a year before his alleged encounter with Borealis that led up to his second book. Evidently he found himself in a moment of reflection and creativity in the ufological field at that time.

In my opinion, if there existed a motive behind his use of the Fentz anecdote, it was to bolster theories about the ‘Fourth Dimension’ – an important theory for associates of the Borderland Sciences group, of which he was a member. Only theories about unknown dimensions could explain how the flying saucers could come from places such as Venus, which the progress of science was gradually rejecting as a planet that could harbour life.

Postscript: A Note on Modern “Chrononauts”

Many books discussing the theme of accidental ‘time travel’ have been published since 1953. One of the most recent books devoted to the subject is Time Storms, by Jenny Randles. Randles’ theory is that these leaps through time are a common, natural phenomenon, and her book contains a large number of eyewitness testimonies to show it. [19]

However, I have found a modern incident that resembles the Fentz case to a surprising extent, but in reverse. This can be found in Whitley Strieber’s 1997 book The Secret School. According to him, in 1983 he was transported to late 19th century Manhattan while standing at the corner of La Guardia Place and Houston Street. He found himself in a familiar road but in an unfamiliar period, with low brick buildings where there are high-rise towers today.

The experience lasted between five and ten minutes. Strieber judged the year to which he was transported as being between the 1870s and 1880s. Later, when he scanned old issues of the New York Journal for references to himself (perhaps as a ‘ghost’ that had appeared and disappeared before people’s eyes), he found a report of a woman who had materialized suddenly in the street in 1945 and vanished again in seconds. Unfortunately, Strieber doesn’t give a reference to the article in question. [20]

There is another case of someone turning up unexpectedly in Manhattan. In March 1957 John Robinson reported an abduction story during the Long John Nebel radio show. Allegedly, one of Robinson’s neighbours, Steve Brodie, had told him about an experience he had had in 1938 while prospecting for gold out west with a companion. One day they were confronted by two strange hooded figures who did not look entirely human. They paralysed Brodie with a hand-held rod-like device and then turned on his companion, whose attempt to flee was brought short by something like a heat ray. Then one of the beings placed small earphones behind Brodie’s ears, causing him to lose consciousness.

When he came to he found himself in a dark place alongside other prisoners like himself. They told him he was in the cave of the Dero, a subterranean race. Just as he began to regain his senses, however, one of the beings adjusted the earphones and Brodie passed out again. This happened from time to time until he was finally released, whereupon he found himself wandering the streets of Manhattan in a state of confusion.

Two years had passed. Brodie came out with his story one day when he saw a copy of one of Ray Palmer’s magazines in Robinson’s apartment. “He speaks of the Dero!” he exclaimed, pointing excitedly to an article about the mysterious creatures. To prove his tale he then showed his neighbour the small scars behind his ears where he had worn the earphones and said that he had not been able to eat meat since his abduction.

Some time later, when Robinson had moved away but was paying a visit to his old neighbourhood, he learnt that Brodie had disappeared again. A neighbour told him that he had been spotted in Arizona, wandering about in a trance-like state. Had the Dero returned for him? [21]

In this story we return to the subterranean world of the Dero, a man’s transportation to limbo for a long period and their strange reappearance in Manhattan. It is clear that certain themes have been recycled once again. This particular story is particularly interesting because it introduces the concept of electronic implants, a staple in abduction lore in later years.


  1. “Regreso al futuro en el coraz6n de Manhattan,” Mas Alla, no. 138, August 2000 pp.76-81.
  2. Enigmas Sin Resolver, Iker Jimenez Editorial EDAF, Madrid 1999 pp.284-285.
  3. Los Enigmas Pendientes,. Ediciones Live, S.A., Madrid 1979 pp.75-77; Espacio y Tiempo, S.A., Madrid 1991 pp.67-69.
  4. I was surprised to find out that neither Harold T. Wilkins’ Strange Mysteries of Time and Space nor John Keel’s Our Haunted Planet made any mention of the incident. 
  5. Jimenez (1999) p.284. 
  6. Burón (1979) p.75. 
  7. Canales p.80.#
  8. Located at http:/lfreepages.genealogy.rootsweb’~comhblkyn/Marriage/R/R.13.html
  9. A one-man machine used to produce a “line of type,” linotypes were used for generations after their introduction in the mid-1880s.
  10. El Libro del Misterio, Jacques Bergier and Georges H. Gallet, Plaza & Janes, S.A., Barcelona 1977.
  11. Le Livre du Mystere, Jacques Bergier and Georges H. Gallet, Editions Albin Michel, Paris 1975.
  12. Saucer Smear, Volume 48, no. 3, April 1st 2001.
  13. Holland’s book The Flying Saucers was published in 1954 by the Borderland group. An 11-page document, it was reprinted by Gray Barker in 1963 along with related items. Anders Liljegren located the booklet in the AFU archive and kindly sent me a copy of the relevant pages. The obituary was prepared by Holland’s sister under the title “In Memoriam.”
  14. Quoted in “Hatred on the Homefront: Cincinnati, Anti-German Hysteria, and the Media,” in Alterity: Transylvania’s Academic Journal 1999-2000, at homepageslalerity/hatred.html.
  15. Ibid.
  16. Prometheus, Internet Bulletin for Art, Politics and Science, no.82, Spring 2002.
  17. I highly recommend Subterranean Worlds by Walter Kafton-Minkel (Loompanics Unlimited, WA 1989) as the best guide to the ‘hollow earth’ literature published in this period.
  18. Timothy Good, Alien Base, Arrow Books Limited, London 1999 p.99.
  19. Jenny Randles, Time Storms, Piatkus, London 2001.
  20. Whitley Strieber, The Secret School, Simon and Schuster, New York 1997.
  21. Brad Steiger and Joan Writenour, New UFO Breakthrough, Tandem 1967, quoted in “Fairyland’s Hunters, Part One,” by Peter Rogerson, Magonia 46, June 1993.



Bishops on the Loose.
Danny O’Sullivan

From Magonia 65, November 1998

In September this year [1998] there was a mild flurry of interest in the international media when Sister. Frances Meigh, a 67 year old mother of three who was recognised as a hermit by the Roman Catholic Church in Middlesborough, was ordained a priest by Bishop Pat Buckley in Co. Louth, Ireland so becoming the first ‘woman priest’ In Ireland.

The ordination was not, of course, recognised by the Church as Pat Buckley is a renegade cleric who has been in dispute with the Roman Catholic hierarchy for a decade. Though it admits he was properly ordained as a priest, the Church does not recognise his consecration as bishop, on the grounds that he was raised to the episcopate by another ‘rebel’ bishop, and considers Buckley to be outside the communion of the Church.

Pat Buckley is now head of the Society of Saint Andrew, based in a former Anglican church in Omeath, Co Louth. A Catholic spokesman from the Middlesborough diocese expressed concern that the erstwhile anchorite was “taking an enormous step into the unknown with a strange organisation”, but Mother Frances (as she is now known) will apparently be followed by the ‘first married priest’ in Ireland in short order – Bishop Buckley is intent, it would seem, on creating a liberal alternative to the established Roman Catholic Church in Ireland.

That he feels he is able to do so is due to the theory of episcopacy historically endorsed by the Western Church (generally meaning Catholic, but the Anglican church subscribes to the same tradition), which in the last century or so has led to a curious legacy of sects led by so-called episcopi vagantes – `wandering bishops’, or ‘bishops irregular’ as they are sometimes called.

The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church (1958 edition, edited by F L Cross) gives a succinct definition of episcopi vagantes: “The name given to persons who have been consecrated bishop in an irregular or clandestine manner or who, having been regularly consecrated, have been excommunicated by the  Church that consecrated them and are in communion with no recognised see. A man is also included in this group when the number in communion with him is so small that his sect appears to exist solely for his own sake.”

The concept of `validity’ is all-important to the self-legitimisation of these sects. Following St Augustine, Western theologians have held that due to the sacramental nature of ordination or consecration, a bishop once made cannot be unmade. Thus though branded a heretic and excommunicated, or otherwise cut off from the authority of a Church, a bishop does not lose the

‘powers’ of his episcopacy, one of which is the consecration of other bishops, another being the ordination of priests. Any such orders dispensed by the bishop are held to be `valid’ but unlawful, or irregular and therefore not recognised by the Church in question.

What is the point of such a distinction? It is hard to see, but one practical result of the theology is that an Orthodox priest converting to Catholicism would not have to be re-ordained – his ordination at the hands of Orthodox bishops would be held to be valid though unlawful (dispensed as it was by a body in schism with the Vatican) but submission to the Roman Catholic authorities would ‘regularise’ his status in the eyes of that Church. So a somewhat dubious notion of authenticity clings to clerics created by ‘rebel’ bishops who have strayed outside the established systems of the Church, and in time a schismatic bishop could create a whole succession of bishops, all ‘validly’ ordained and all holding themselves the power of `valid’ ordination despite the fact that no established Church would recognise them.

Bishop Pat Buckley is one such, and while Catholic commentators as doctrinaire as Mary Kenny admit that while ‘misguided’, he is essentially a ‘good’ man, other bishops irregular have been involved in fraud, fascism and organised paedophilia. While not wishing to list occultism alongside the latter vices, it also must be noted that many of the bishops irregular are conspicuous, as supposedly Christian clergy, for their interest in Theosophy, Gnosticism and various associated belief systems.

In February 1997 the News of the World, under the headline “MOST EVIL CHURCH ON EARTH”, exposed a body called the Old Catholic Church as a “sham religious order” after an investigation revealed that several of his its clerics, were involved in paedophilia and child pornography.

The group’s titular leader, Monsignor Frederick Linale, was already serving a ten-year sentence for child sex offences. At the time a certain Father Stephen (not his real name) was running an ‘Old Catholic Mission’ in Rochester, Kent. The mission was actually a private house, and his secretary was screening telephone calls to see why people wanted to speak to the priest. “It’s just that since all this business in the papers, Father Stephen has had lots of people ringing him up to ask if we’re the same Old Catholic Church, so he’s put together a whole load of information proving we’ve got nothing to do with those people.” However, both Father Stephen’s group and Linale’s group shared a common heritage, both tracing their succession from the original Old Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain, which is one of the major roots for ‘bishops irregular’ in this country.

The Old Catholic Church in Holland is seen as a perfectly legitimate institution, to the extent that it is recognised as a sister Church by the Anglican communion, including the Church of England. It has its own church buildings and a large number of adherents, being created in the late seventeenth century when a significant proportion of Dutch Catholic clergy, including many bishops, fell out with the Pope and were excommunicated. Their numbers were added to in the late nineteenth century when another generation of Dutch Catholics found the assertion of ‘papal infallibility’ as doctrine too much to stomach.

In 1908 the Dutch Old Catholic bishops ordained an ex-Roman Catholic priest called A H Mathew as the first Old Roman Catholic bishop of Great Britain, believing that there was a significant number of Catholics in England who would be happy to follow their lead in keeping their basic beliefs and ritual but dispensing with the Pope. In this, the Dutch bishops had been deceived. They were also unaware that Mathew was married, which would have invalidated the consecration in their eyes.

Mathew returned to England to find that there was little support for his movement and in time he became disillusioned.

After first splitting from his Dutch superiors, he repudiated his Old Catholic movement and returned to the Roman Catholic Church as a layman in 1915. One of the reasons Mathew tried to disband his movement was that he had discovered that most of its members were involved in the contemporary craze for occultism – specifically, they were Theosophists. But the die had already been cast – Mathew had ordained, on his authority as a bishop, several other priests and a bishop who were not willing to give up their perceived status. What happened next is characteristic of many of the subsequent movements of bishops irregular in their stretching of the concept of “valid succession”.

Proceeding in a rather ad hoc fashion, Mathew’s remaining priests elected two of their number as bishops and had them consecrated by F S Willoughby, who Mathew had created ‘Bishop of St Pancras’ before deposing him for his occult connections. Theosophy at the time was fashionable even among the clergy of the well-established Churches in England. In 1911, Theosophical luminary Annie Besant wrote: “Theosophy is spreading much among the clergy of the English Church and the ministers of the Nonconformist communities. Not only have we members of the Theosophical Society among the clergy, but there is an increasing number who welcome sermons on Theosophical teachings, and many more who themselves teach a mysticism indistinguishable from Theosophy.”

The Old Catholic movement was seen by many occultists as a back door into an old established mystical tradition – Christianity – which they hoped to influence gradually into convergence with their own ‘flowering of divine consciousness’, for the greater good of the whole world. Jesus was, for them, one of a succession of mystical masters who are incarnated on earth to raise humanity towards the highest possible spiritual state. In denying the uniqueness of Jesus, such a worldview differs radically from Christianity.

By 1918 the Old Roman Catholic Church in Britain was almost completely Theosophical. Its ‘presiding bishop’, or leader, was James Ingall Wedgwood, by all accounts a remarkable personality. He changed the name of the movement to the Liberal Catholic Church and his energy and enthusiasm ensured that it spread throughout the world, counting several thousand among its membership even today. Liberal Catholic clergy do not wear black – it is considered a negative colour and much of their ritual centres around the magical properties of colours and substances.

A keen exponent of such ideas was Bishop Charles Leadbeater, Wedgwood’s successor as presiding bishop, whose book The Science of the Sacraments sees the Christian sacraments as a form of ‘high magic’. There is no doubt that Leadbeater was considered a clairvoyant of unusual power and likewise there is no doubt that he had been suspended from the Theosophical Society in 1906 for sexual perversion involving young boys. One written source maintains: “The ‘high spot’ of Leadbeater’s teaching to young men was reached during collective masturbation, whereby at the point of climax, all were exhorted to raise their thoughts to the highest planes.”

The confusion continues over such liberal use of the word ‘Catholic’ today. A television documentary screened in May last year featured Pamela Crane, ordained minister of the Liberal Catholic Church and wearing a dog-collar, as an expert on ‘Christian astrology’. The programme sought to show that some Christian clergy were sympathetic to divination of this sort, but failed to make clear that the Liberal Catholic Church could not really be called `Christian’ and that the ‘TS’ after it, as spelt out on her doormat, stood for ‘Theosophical Society’.

Father Stephen in present-day Rochester claimed his ‘valid’ ordination through succession from a body descended from the Old Roman Catholic Church of Great Britain who were not Theosophists and therefore did not stay with the Liberal Catholic Church in 1918. Again, they elected their own leader and claimed a valid succession from the Dutch Old Catholics through Mathew, even though both the latter refused to recognise the existence of such a succession. Though not a member, Stephen was sure that the Liberal Catholic Church did not go in for collective masturbation anymore, if they ever did.

“They’re very New Age,” he said “they channel energies and things … I have no problem with some of the claims they make, but you’ll find there’s a lot of prejudice against them.” Indeed, Father Stephen knew Gerard Crane, husband of Pamela and a Liberal Catholic bishop. “I’ve got a mitre of his downstairs,” he said – the world of bishops irregular is a small one. Too small, in fact, for Father Stephen, who was leaving the Old Catholics because he was “fed up of all the scandal”.

In the 1970s Frederick Linale, of “MOST EVIL CHURCH ON EARTH” fame, was a bishop in the church but was stripped of office when he was found to be a child abuser. However, Linale just ignored the injunction and carried on as a bishop with his own group, still using the Old Catholic name. Father Stephen wanted to move on, taking his ‘flock’ – under twenty people – with him to join another body untainted by the sordid history of Linale and his ilk.

The problem was where to go, organisationally speaking. He mentioned several bodies, all of them descended from questionable sources, as possible sponsors for his ministry. None were in Britain, but this doesn’t matter as bishops irregular often exercise their pastoral responsibility by post. The important thing for such ‘irregular’ clergy is to be recognised by a bishop, often any bishop.

Stephen explained: ‘When you make contact with these people, you really don’t know anything about each other… A chap calling himself ‘Bishop Austin of London’ got in touch with me about forming a new Catholic body and this looked quite promising until a friend of mine told me that Bishop Austin was really Roger Gleaves using another name.” Robert Gleaves is another of Linale’s associates, with a long history of child abuse and several prison terms to his name – another Old Catholic ‘bishop’.

However, it would be quite wrong to tar all ‘bishops irregular’ and even all Old Catholics with the same brush. Linale and his associates would seem to be an extreme example of what can go on in these groups who to all intents and purposes appear to be “regular” clergy but in fact are accountable to no-one but themselves.

This view is endorsed by Alan Bain, who in 1985 self-published the most recent work on episcopi vagantes, Bishops Irregular. This was a directory of all the ‘independent’ bishops in the world that Bain could trace at the time, and a historical record of those that had passed away as well. Bain, now 65 and retired, had been ordained a deacon in the Reformed Catholic Church in 1977, and was consecrated a bishop in the Independent Catholic Church in 1982.

In 1985 he estimated there to be some 1,000 episcopi vagantes scattered around the world – no-one knows how many there are now. In 1989 he dropped his interest in bishops irregular, putting aside his mitre and episcopal functions in favour of an interest in Theosophy. He writes: “Were I writing the introduction to the 1985 edition of Bishops Irregular, it would be very different, not least because I can no longer support the idea of an all-male deity, nor of a divine trinity, confident in the assertion that ‘God is One’ without division or  He describes the Old Catholic Church (of Linale, Gleaves, et al) and its organised paedophilia as ‘an exception’.

Most wandering bishops would seem rather to be as Henry T Brandreth described them in his 1961 edition of Episcopi Vagantes and the Anglican Church, a survey he conducted (originally in 1947) to assist his fellow Anglican clergy in establishing the status of any interlopers they might come across claiming to have succession from various Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican communions:

“…some are honest and believe they that they have a genuine vocation to guide, in isolation from the rest of Christendom, the small handful of people which acknowledges their claims; some others are clearly not honest and use their supposed episcopal status as a means of personal enrichment at the expense of any who are so misguided as to support them; others again are mentally unbalanced and suffer from a folie de grandeur.”

The latter would perhaps seem to be the case with the most famous bishop irregular of recent history. Hugh George de Willmott Newman, now deceased, was born in 1905 in Forest Gate, East London. He became interested in the Old Catholic movement in the 1920s. From his first extremely questionable consecration as a bishop in 1944 he sought to unify in his own person as many lines of succession as he could. He gained consecration after consecration from all manner of alleged bishops, and consecrated them in turn into his own church, the Catholicate of the West.

There are numerous photographs of Mar Georgius, his principal but by no means only title (other included Patriarch of Glastonbury, Apostolic Pontiff of Celtica, Prince-Catholicos of the West, Exarch of the Order of Antioch for Britain, Ruling Prelate of the Order of Corporate Reunion, etc, etc, ad nauseum), in full regalia, but despite a few faithful followers, his umpteen bishoprics and dominions seemed to exist only on paper. He also set up a university which granted worthless degrees for a small fee. All this while working as the General Manager and Secretary for the National Association of Cycle Traders.

One of the groups subsumed into the Catholicate of the West was the Free Catholic Church, worth noting for the history of its founder, Victor Alexander Hayman. Hayman was already an Anglican clergyman in Leyton, East London, when he was consecrated as ‘Bishop of Waltham for the Free Catholic Church’ in 1930 by another irregular bishop who enjoyed creating new churches.

Apparently, after giving up his Church of England living, Hayman became chaplain to the British Union of Fascists and was subsequently interned on the Isle of Man during the Second World War because of his fascist connections. This information is found (originally, as far as I can tell) in Peter Anson’s Bishops at Large (1964) – however, research at the Public Record Office turns up no mention of Hayman being interned with the other BUF members, and correspondence with a former BUF member and intimate of Oswald Mosley would seem to indicate that the BUF had no `chaplain’ whatsoever.

What is beyond doubt is that in 1949 Hayman was jailed for two years for fraud – the Daily Mail reported: “The prosecution stated that Hayman, wearing a clerical collar, obtained money for advertisements for the Free Catholic magazine, of which he was the general editor, when he well knew he was in no position to produce the magazine.” At the trial it was revealed that he had been living for some time on the proceeds of such frauds and that his bishop’s ‘palace’ was a basement room at a house in Highbury, North London. He was prosecuted again for a similar offence some years later and died in prison in 1960.

The particular succession of irregular consecrations which included both Hayman and De Willmott Newman, and which would become particularly significant in terms of Mar Georgius’ eventual transmogrification of his movement into an `Eastern Orthodox’ body, originated with Jules de Ferrete, an ex-Dominican priest who arrived in London in 1866 claiming to have been consecrated, for the purpose of a mission in the West, as ‘Bishop of Iona’ by the Bishop Bedros of Emesa, of the Syrian Antiochene Church (one of the ancient Churches of the Middle East). He was carrying a translation of the ‘instrument of consecration’ to prove his claims, but despite his assertions that two experts from the British Museum had translated it from the original Syriac document, he was never able to produce the original or the two experts to defend himself from the charges of fraud that followed him around the capital.

In 1943 De Willmott Newman was merely ‘Abbot Hugh’ of the Old Catholic Orthodox Church of Europe when he attended a meeting in London of several bbishops irregular’ and their followers. The same raggle-taggle reconstituted themselves soon after as the ‘Catholicate of the West’, and in this body De Willmott Newman was raised to the status of Mar Georgius, ‘Patriarch of Glastonbury’. Later he became the body’s leader. The basis of his authority was described by him in 1955:

“This Rite is not autogenic, but is… the direct spiritual heir of the Ancient Celtic Church, established at Glastonbury in AD 37, immediately after the Passion of Christ, by St Joseph of Arimathea, and afterwards extended into the Celtic and other lands of Western Christendom, and restored in 1866 upon the authority of the Syrian Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch…”

This statement came seventeen years after the categorical denial of any such restoration by the Syrian Antiochene Patriarch himself. Writing in the 1960s, Anson noted:

“So far the Catholicate of the West has neither been offered membership of the World Council of Churches, nor has the Prince-Catholicos ever applied for it. The Glastonbury Patriarchate still awaits recognition by its fellow Patriarchates of Constantinople, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem and Moscow … If the truth must be told, the Catholicate of the West has never been much more than an unsubstantial pageant, a fascinating castle in the air … conjured up by the versatile patriarchal Secretary and Registrar of the Incorporated Cycle Traders and Repairers. Mar Georgius is the magician to whom the credit must be given for having kept it alive on paper for the last nineteen years.”

Until relatively recently, the ‘church’ of De Willmott Newman was known, after more name changes, as the Orthodox Church of the British Isles. It now has around 250 members, one bishop, seven priests and two deacons. At its head is William Newman Norton, 50 years old and the nephew of De Willmott Newman, whose ecclesiastical title is ‘Abba Seraphim’. Father Sergius has been a priest in the church for 31 years, having been ordained by Mar Georgius himself. The faithful in Sergius’ parish in South London borrow a nearby Anglican church once a week to hold a service for around seven people. Sergius, who sports the heavy beard and black robes of an Orthodox priest, admits his church has a chequered history: “We were one of the Free Catholic Churches, but head and shoulders above the rest, or we would never have been accepted into the Coptic Orthodox Church.”

This last remark is particularly significant – notwithstanding Anson’s assessment some 35 years previously, the British Orthodox Church has achieved the Holy Grail of irregular episcopacy, recognition by one of the ancient Patriarchates. In this case not Antioch, which supposedly was the origin of the British Orthodox Church in the first place, but Alexandria, seat of the Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate. However this is a trifling detail compared with the advantages of being incorporated with a bona fide Orthodox Church. The British Orthodox Church is now recognised as a ‘real’ Church by a historical and legitimate Eastern Orthodox Church – this is, finally and some years after his own death, the realisation of De Willmott Newman’s ‘dream’.

The Orthodox Church of the British Isles became a Coptic Orthodox Patriarchate in 1994. I shall let Abba Seraphim’s own publicity tell the story:

“In the 1990′s the British Orthodox Church was a scattered fellowship of congregations under the care of Mar Seraphim and Mar Ignatius. An increasing number of people from a very wide range of backgrounds were making contact, finding in the British Orthodox Church the fulfilment of their aspirations towards a Traditional, Orthodox and British Faith. Mar Seraphim was invited to visit His Holiness Pope Shenouda III in Cairo at this time, and a very warm sense of fellowship was immediately present between them. In a series of discussions over some months it became clear that God was leading the British Orthodox Church and the ancient Coptic Orthodox Church to enter into a union. The British Orthodox Church began to use the Liturgy of St James, perhaps the most ancient of Liturgies, and to prepare for union with the Coptic Church. It seemed to all who awaited this event that God’s hand was upon the Church and that he was about to do something wonderful for Orthodoxy in Britain. At Pentecost 1994, in Cairo, Mar Seraphim was made a Metropolitan of the Coptic Orthodox Church and the British Orthodox Church became an indivisible part of the Coptic Orthodox Church. History had come full circle and the missionary church had been re-united with its Middle Eastern roots.”

Elsewhere in the official potted history of the British Orthodox Church is the tale of its origins in Jules de Ferrete’s mission to England, without mention of the Syrian rebuttal of any such mission in 1938, nor a similar one issued in 1958.

Abba Seraphim and all his followers were accepted into Coptic Orthodox Church “on the basis that there was no significant difference in doctrine”, according to Father Sergius. Could the Egyptians also have been swayed by the alleged Coptic Orthodox line of succession Mar Georgius added to his person in 1951? This was received from Denis Quartey Arthur, an Afro-Caribbean cleric who called himself ‘Mar Lukos’ and claimed to represent a Coptic Orthodox Patriarchy when he arrived in Chelsea. When Mar Georgius heard about him, he was sceptical of his claim but on seeing a document of consecration with episcopal seals which he felt could not have been forged by a ‘Harlem negro’, he changed his tune and received consecration from Mar Lukos.

In fact Mar Lukos himself had been consecrated into the Coptic Orthodox line of succession by `Bishop St-John-the-Divine’ Hickerson, who ran the Church of the Living God in New York. Believing he himself was God, Hickerson ran into trouble when some of his followers, the ‘Temples of God’, ran amok and stabbed some of the ungodly. For whatever reason, the Coptic Orthodox accepted the British Orthodox Church without examining their clergy or their history too closely. While for many years Father Sergius could be accused of being an imposter when walking the streets dressed as an Orthodox priest, now he is completely justified. Indeed, Abba Seraphim himself was recently quoted as an authoritative Orthodox spokesman in an article in the Guardian (12 October 1998) about the increasing number of converts in England to the Orthodox faith.

Alan Bain is dismissive of this development in the history of bishops irregular, the first time in this country that any group has succeeded in their mission of being recognised as a ‘true’ Church, by other Churches, the media and the public: “I would say that it makes the Coptic Orthodox Church appear foolish.” But somewhere, perhaps, Mar Georgius, Patriarch of Glastonbury, is having the last laugh.

Tricks of Memory.
Peter Rogerson

This article was first published as ‘Peter Rogerson’s Northern Echoes’, in Magonia 65, November 1998.


There has been some scepticism expressed about the claim made by the United States Government in the report Roswell, The Case Closed, that people had misremembered incidents occurring in the 1950′s as having happened at the time of Roswell. Surely memories cannot be that distorted, can they? Historians who work with oral testimony, however are familiar with just this sort of problem, as one of them writes:

“Memories play tricks, as drastic pruning commences very soon after an experience, one person’s selective processes operating very differently from anothers, offering several perceptions of even the most mundane incidents. Memory is a mixture of fact and opinion, full of inconsistencies and excisions. Events may be reinterpreted over time, may relate to occurrences which [either] had no great significance for, or made a huge impression on, a child, several may be telescoped together, or recalled out of order, whilst a person’s role in them might be enlarged by wishful re-enactment. Some may remember events as participants, other retell a story based on hearsay which has been recounted many times over with embellishments at every telling.” (Colwell, Stella, Teach Yourself Tracing Your Family Tree, Hodder, 1997, p 11)

An interesting example of just such a memory distortion, compressing events which occurred over a decade apart can be found in Jenny Randles Something in the Air, reviewed elsewhere in Magonia by John Harney, concerning the famous 1954 Goose Bay Stratocruiser case. Interviewed by Jenny Randles (presumably in the early 1990′s), the chief stewardess recalled that after being quizzed before they left Heathrow, she was later asked to go to the Air Ministry with Lee Boyd and James Howard. They asked her if she often saw things – whether she was psychic and if she had seen fairies.

After further questions at the Ministry all three were introduced to a Professor Black, a psychiatrist. He asked about their perception and eyesight, and speculated about optical illusions and light refractions. Then, quite remarkably the officials requested Daphne and the pilots to undergo hypnosis. Jenny goes on to say how remarkably early 1954 would be for hypnotic regression, and how all trace of this incident is gone from official files.

In fact the name Black is a vital clue here, for it allows us to identify the correct time in which these incidents occurred, The crew of the BOAC Stratocruiser did not meet ‘Dr’ Stephen Black (who may or may not have had a degree in psychology) in 1954 but in either 1967 or just possibly early 1968. And the meeting was not at the instigation of the Air Ministry, but that of the BBC, for the documentary UFOs and the People Who See Them broadcast on BBC 1 on May
9th 1968.

A detailed review by John Harney appears in MUFOB volume 1, number 3, pp.23-5, and was the subject of an editorial by Charles Bowen in FSR vol. 14, no. 4. pp. 1-2. Both these reviews note the BOAC crews’ appearance in the programme. This study by Stephen Black was indeed remarkably percipient, anticipating much of the psychosocial ufology of tho 1980′s and 1990′s. There is no doubt that the interview with Black that the chief stewardess recalls was for this programme (in which she appeared).

The hypnosis was not exactly hypnotic regression, but was part of Black’s testing of his theory that close encounter UFO witnesses were deep trance hypnotic subjects. He suggested that flickering light, the way people react in groups, and hypnosis could all combine to explain UFOs. Many of us would think he may have hit on something very important.

This case of memory distortion is very informative, Daphne the stewardess had correctly remembered the doctor’s surname and his line of questioning, but had the time frame and context totally distorted. Another person may well have remembered to the day when the interview took place, could have told you what the weather was like, but could not have remembered anything of what was asked. This incident proves that time compression of over a decade is possible, and that there is nothing totally improbable about the USAF claims over Roswell.

How many other such cases of memory distortion are there in which groups of events thought to have occurred at roughly the same time occurred ages apart, and where context is misremembered? It reinforces`the warning Stephen Smith (then BUFORA’s director of research) gave at a conference a quarter of a century ago, that there is little point in investigating cases much more than a week old, and that the aim should be no later than 48 hours. Today’s ufologists are becoming obsessed with cases from half a century ago, for which original documentation is sparse, and memories confused with the passage of time.



Spectres Meeting in a Cemetery. Part Two.
David Sivier

Continued from Part One

The result of this disaffection with institutional Christianity was not only the growth of scepticism and atheism, but also the appearance of a number of modernist rewritings of the Gospels presented as the rediscovery of an authentic Christianity. These included such works as Gideon Jasper Ouseley’s The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, 1900; Nicholas Notovitch’s Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men, 1894; Dr. Levi H. Dowling’s 1911 The Aquarian Gospel; The Crucifixion of Jesus, by an Eye-Witness, 1919; Rev. W.D. Mahan’s A Correct Transcript of Pilate’s Court, 1879; B. Shehadi’s The Confession of Pontius Pilate, 1893; Ernst Edler van der Planitz’s The Letter of Benaia, 1910; T.G. Cole’s The Twenty-Ninth Chapter of Acts, 1871; and Moccia’s The Letter of Jesus Christ, of 1917.

Gideon Jasper Ousley: pantheist, teetotaler and vegetarian

These false Gospels are a heterogeneous mix, reflecting their authors’ diverse motives and viewpoints. The Gospel of the Holy Twelve, written by Gideon Jasper Ouseley, a clergyman in the Catholic Apostolic Church, seems to have been written to promulgate Ouseley’s own pantheist, vegetarian and teetotal views, including the androgynous nature of God, styled by Ouseley as ‘our parent in heaven’. Ouseley was strongly influenced by the doctrines of the Theosophists Edward Maitland and Anna Kingsford. Despite purporting to be the reconstruction of an original Aramaic gospel narrative, Ouseley stated that he received it ‘in dreams and visions of the night’. [51]

Notovitch’s Life of Saint Issa, Best of the Sons of Men, pretended to be a translation of a Tibetan life of Christ, stating how Christ travelled to India to learn the ways of the Buddhas. While it’s one of the major sources for various fringe religious theories attempting to link Christ with India and Hindu and Buddhist philosophy, students of oriental literatures and religions in the nineteenth century were not hesitant in declaring it to be a forgery, especially after interviews with the monks at Himis, where Notovitch claimed to have seen the Life, revealed that they had no such document and had never even seen Notovitch. [52]

Dowling’s The Aquarian Gospel was similarly influenced by Theosophy and contemporary interest in oriental spirituality, as well as Christian Science. Dowling was a believer in the Akashic records, and, like Ouseley, wrote it under the influence of astral communications received during the night. In it, Christ not only studies with the great rabbi Hillel, but also meets Brahmins and Buddhists in India, Mencius in China, and Persian magi, while travelling through India, Tibet, Assyria, Babylonia, Athens, and Italy before settling in Egypt where he joins and achieves all seven degrees of initiation into the sacred brotherhood at Heliopolis. [53]

The Crucifixion of Jesus, by an Eye-Witness, is an account of Christ’s life as an Essene monk, in which John the Baptist, the angel of the annunciation, Nicodemus and the angel at the tomb are Essenes, and it is the Essenes who arrange the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt, and carry him away to be revived after the Crucifixion. Christ, in this false gospel, is indeed attracted to Mary Magdalene, but does not marry her because of His monastic vows. Despite purporting to be a translation of yet another ancient document, the text itself was completely anachronistic, and the fact that neither the manuscript, or even photographs or details of its provenance were presented made it clear that it was a forgery.

The thesis that Christ was an Essene was first propounded by Carl Bahrdt, circa 1784-92, and popularised by C.H. Venturini circa 1800-02, while it took the idea of Christ being resuscitated after Crucifixion from Paulus, and Hose’s History of Jesus of 1876. The book as a whole was probably inspired by the manuscript discoveries of the German orientalist Tischendorf in Egypt and the Levant, including the Codex Sinaiticus, in 1859, as well as various novels and stories set in Egypt in the 1860s and 70s. [54]

Rev. W.D. Mahan’s A Correct Transcript of Pilate’s Court has Pilate attempting to save Christ from the Jewish authorities as they execute Him during an insurrection against Rome. Although fraudulent, the book enjoyed immense success, and Mahan followed it up with a succession of similarly spurious religious documents, one of which plagiarised Ben-Hur. As a result, Mahan was found guilty of falsehood by the Presbyterian church and suspended from the ministry for one year. It appears Mahan was strongly influenced by the Alexander Walker’s editions of the Apocryphal Acts of Pilate in volume XVI of the 1873 Edinburgh edition of the Ante-Nicene library. Mahan’s motive in writing his own version may well have been to defend the historicity of the Biblical account from attacks from the sceptic and Republican politician Robert G. Ingersoll in the 1870s through the invention of documents that Mahan himself felt genuinely existed. [55]

The Confession of Poratius Pilate similarly presents Pilate’s viewpoint, presenting a narrative of his final years as an exile in Vienne, staying with his friend Fabicius Albinos, before finally, overcome with remorse, he commits suicide. Pilate here is also presented as attempting to rescue Christ, though unsuccessfully, and in reprisal commits terrible atrocities on the Jews before being recalled to Rome after complaints and accusations to Tiberius by Vitellius and Mary Magdalene. The book was originally written as an avowedly modern work by the Greek Orthodox bishop of Zahlah, Gerasimus Yarid, following similar fictional accounts of the Passion, such as that published about the same time in France by Anatole France. Its spurious antiquity was merely a creation of Shehadi. [56]

The Letter of Benan is supposedly an account by the Egyptian priest and doctor, Benan, of Christ’s life and training amongst the rabbis and Egyptian doctors, including the Therapeutae, and of Benan’s subsequent journeys to Gaul, Britain and Roman Italy. Its publisher, Ernst Edler von der Planitz, wasn’t an Egyptologist or religious scholar, but a novelist with a penchant for conspiracy theories, publishing such works as ‘The Lie of Mayerling’. Again, the books seems influenced by Ebers’ novels of ancient Egypt, such as An Egyptian Princess of 1864 and Uarda of 1877, as well as Bulwer-Lytton’s The Last Days of Pompeii. [57]

The Twenty-Ninth Chapter of Acts, on the other hand, has Paul travelling to Spain and Britain, where he preaches on the site of the future St. Paul’s Cathedral, Mount Lud, before travelling on through Gaul, Belgium, Switzerland, the Julian Alps, Illyria, Macedonia and Asia. In it, the Druids reveal to Paul that they are descended from the Jews who escaped from bondage in Egypt, and it appears to have been written to support the British-Israelite movement of the 1860s and 70s. [58]

Moccia’s spurious gospel was a lost thirty-three page Greek version. This was really a publicity stunt by Moccia for his forthcoming novel, but he abandoned it after he saw how seriously it was being taken. [59] If only Brown had shown similar discretion.

Other works included the forged The Gospel of the Childhood of Our Lord Jesus Christ according to St Peter, by the French Decadent writer Catulle Mendes; W.P. Crozier’s Letters of Pontius Pilate, which purported to be Pilate’s correspondence with the Roman philosopher Seneca; Catherine van Dyke’s Letters from Pontius Pilate’s Wife; the Epistle of Kallikrates, purporting to come from one of Paul’s converts; the Letter of Jesus Christ, exhorting attendance at church and keeping the Sabbath, copies of which were pasted in houses as it promised protection for women in child-birth. This latter had a contemporary version in Greek, published by Michael Salvers, and supposedly discovered in the fragments of a meteorite smashed by Patriarch Joannicius of Jerusalem. [60]

These nineteenth- and early twentieth-century apocrypha are the precursors to many of today’s works of religious pseudohistory, presenting Christ as an Essene, or a friend of Pilate, or an initiate into secret Egyptian or Indian teachings. And like the documents Michael Baigent claims to have seen to support his view of Christ in The Jesus Papers, the ancient documents on which these texts were based similarly did not appear, and no supporting evidence was provided. [61]

Not only were these new, apocryphal gospels a response to contemporary questioning of the authenticity of the canonical gospels, but they were also a response to the emergence and circulation of genuinely ancient, non-canonical Jewish and Christian texts, such as the Book of Enoch, found in a fragmentary Slavonic version and in its complete form preserved in the canon of the Ethiopian Coptic Church. The Gospel of Nicodemus, written iii the fourth or fifth centuries AD, was copied in eleventh century England, and was still circulating in chapbook editions in the eighteenth century. [62] The 1876 Tischendorf edition of the early Greek and Latin versions may well have been the versions which inspired the spurious 19th century gospels. The Egerton Gospel, a fragmentary non-canonical gospel, was discovered in 1935. [63]

A similar piece of a vanished gospel, Gospel Oxyrhincus 1224 was found circa 1890. [64] Gospel Oxyrhincus 1224 was discovered in 1903 and published in 1914. [65] Furthermore, apart from the spurious late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century gospels, other noncanonical versions of the lives of the great figures of the Bible were circulating. Three hundred years before the publication of the Gospel of Judas in May 2006, for example, an account of the treacherous apostle’s life was also circulating in the cheap, chapbook literature. [66]

The most profound challenge to the authenticity of the Biblical scriptures came from the discovery of the Gnostic library of Chenoboskion and Nag Hammadi in Egypt,

The most profound challenge to the authenticity of the Biblical scriptures came from the discovery of the Gnostic library of Chenoboskion and Nag Hammadi in Egypt, in 1945/6 and the Dead Sea Scrolls of Qumran in 1947. [67] With the discovery of these texts, more apocryphal and pseudepigraphal Jewish and Christian tests were gradually researched and published. The result was a flood of new translations of heterodox Judaeo-Christian texts, which had previously been lost or suppressed. These included the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas, discovered in 1945; The Secret Book of James, 1945; The Dialogue of the Saviour; The Gospel of Mary, 1955; the Infancy Gospel of Thomas; The Infancy Gospel of James; The Gospel of Peter, parts of which had already been discovered in 1886 and a version published in 1972; and The Secret Gospel of Mark, discovered in 1958 and published in 1973. [68]

References to a ‘Teacher of Righteousness’ and a’Wicked Priest’ in the Dead Sea Scrolls have similarly provided material for radical speculation, with scholars such as J.M. Allegro, Barbara Thiering, and Robert Eisenmann identifying them as Jesus, Paul, John the Baptist, and Christ’s brother James. [69] In the view of at least one major scholar “these theories fail the basic credibility test – they do not spring from, but are foisted on the texts”, with the more likely candidate for the ‘wicked priest’ being Jonathan Maccabeus who accepted the pontifical vestments for the Temple at Jerusalem from the Seleucid usurper Alexander Bolas, or Alexander Jannaeus. [70]

However, academic restrictions placed on research and publication by the director of the research programme into the scrolls, Father de Vaux, and the inability of a small group of seven scholars to complete such an enormous task, along with political difficulties with the Israeli authorities, meant that relatively little was published until the reorganisation of the project with a team of sixty scholars by Emanuel Tov in 1990, and the breach of the previous academic ‘closed shop’ around the manuscripts by the Biblical Archaeology Society and the Huntingdon Library in California. [71]

Unfortunately, the academic wrangling that had hindered proper publication and research into the scrolls appeared to lend credence to rumours that the ‘Teacher of Righteousness’ and ‘Wicked Priest’ were indeed Christ and the other major Christian figures, and so gave rise to rumours that the Scrolls were being deliberately suppressed because they contained materials that would undermine and discredit Christianity completely. It is as a part of this atmosphere of religious anxiety, speculation and conspiracy theorising that Holy Blood, Holy Grail found such fertile soil amongst the public, and the Da Vinci Code sprang up.

This conspiracist view of the Roman Catholic Church has been compounded because of the very real problems the Vatican has experienced in coming to terms with modernity. With the advance of secularisation in the nineteenth century, many of the traditional ecclesiastical roles of providing education, giving moral advice and presiding over marriages and funerals were lost to the state or private secular institutions, and the traditional seat of the papacy, Rome, was occupied and incorporated into the new Italy during the 1861-70 campaigns of unification. [72]

The result of this was the official promulgation of the doctrine of papal infallibility at the First Vatican Council of 1869-70, considered by some to be a ‘magna carta of ecclesiastical absolutism’, and the Syllabus of Errors, contained in the papal encyclical Quanta Cura of 1864. [73]

The papal decree Lamentabili and encyclical Pascendi Dominica Gregis of 1907 outlawed modernist thought in Roman Catholicism prohibiting the philosophies of Kant, Fichte and Hegel, and the application of secular historical techniques to criticise the authenticity of the Bible. Instead of Roman Catholic doctrine evolving through a historically conditioned process of debate, elaboration, adaptation and development, Roman Catholic doctrine was established as immutable and eternally true. [74]

And as a reaction to the revolutionary turmoil of nineteenth century Europe, French Roman Catholic theoreticians like Joseph de Maistre and Francois Rene Chateubriand articulated an extreme conservative ideology in which “thrones and altars were to be seen as safeguards, as buffers against a return to the tragedies of the Terror. Christianity was to be privileged above philosophy; powerful popes were preferable to overconfident national churches; kings and established churches were better than elected assemblies and liberal constitutions; tradition was a safer bet than innovation.” [75]

As a result, liberal Catholic views and agendas were denounced in the encyclicals Mirari Vos of 1832, and Singulars Nos of 1834. The fascination with alleged secret royalist bloodlines from Christ through the Merovingian kings in The Holy Blood, and the Holy Grail, and its successors, like The Da Vinci Code, can be seen as a deliberate mythologisation of this type of ‘throne and altar’ Catholicism.

Although Christian Democrat parties had successfully emerged to defend Roman Catholicism against hostile Protestant and secular authorities in Bismarck’s Germany and Belgium, papal disgust at nationalist appropriation of pontifical territories had led to a refusal to recognise the Italian state. Italian Roman Catholics were not even allowed to vote until 1919. [76] A rapprochement with the Italian state, which formally regulated the relations between Church and state in Italy and which granted the sovereign independence of the See of Rome and compensated the Vatican for the loss of its territories, was only established with the Lateran Pacts with Fascist Italy of 1928. [77]

The emergence of extreme Right-wing clerical Fascist movements such as the collaborationist regime of Monsignor Tiso (above) in Slovakia seemed to bear out the image of the Roman Catholic Church as a brutal, totalitarian, oppressive institution

The drawback to this treaty was that the papacy often seemed more allied to totalitarian Fascism than to democracy as the two movements headed towards a collision course in the 1930s. With the emergence of democracy in Italy after World War II and the new openness in the Church brought about by Pope John XXIII and Vatican II, a concordat based on privileges and tied historically to Fascism became an embarrassing liability. [75]

Worse, the emergence of extreme Right-wing clerical Fascist movements, such as the Rexists in Belgium, the collaborationist regime of Monsignor Tiso in Slovakia and the juntas of Salazar in Portugal and Franco in Spain further seemed to bear out the image of the Roman Catholic Church as a brutal, totalitarian, oppressive institution. The problem remains acute with continuing arguments over the papacy’s knowledge of the Holocaust and inability or refusal to prevent it.

The rise of feminism has also presented the Church with serious criticism as a patriarchal institution oppressing women through its prohibition of contraception and abortion, unequal employment opportunities which disbar women from ordination in the clergy, and, like other Christian denominations, with the worship of a solely male deity. Apart from the general trends in feminist theology common to most forms of Western Christianity, the Roman Catholic Church has experienced demands for the hyperlatreia – the extraordinary, superior veneration extended by Roman Catholics to Our Lady – to establish her as co-saviour with Christ. This was formally investigated by Pope John Paul II, who was broadly favourable, but rejected as contrary to Catholic dogma and tradition by the cardinals charged with examining it.

It is as part of this continuing debate – over the changing role of women in the Church and society, and attempts to reclaim a suppressed feminine aspect to Christian spirituality, that The Da Vinci Code and its literary antecedents’ elevation of Mary Magdalene is located.

However, the specific historical circumstances, which have given rise to this image of a Fascistic, patriarchal, oppressive Church, staffed by an Order of secret assassins, is largely obscured by the mythological distortions, which surround them. The mythology of the Priory of Sion may well be a Surrealist spoof of ‘throne and altar’ Right-Wing Catholicism, but it’s part of the general fascination with secret societies and pseudo-chivalric orders which were extremely common in the nineteenth century. During that century there was a plethora of pseudo-Masonic societies and orders, which, despite their elaborate hierarchies and rhetoric of bizarre mysticism, were largely fraternal benefit societies. Most of these became insurance companies and friendly societies in the twentieth century. [79] And while many of them championed and supported the poor in the new, mass, democratic society of the nineteenth century, they often did so under a feudal, chivalric guise, like the nineteenthcentury American socialist organisation, the Knights of Labor. [80]

As for the supposedly oppressive character of the Roman Catholic Church, this can be countered with the rise within it of leftwing, Marxist Liberation theology and more traditionally theologically orthodox critiques of exploitation and oppression, and the very many Roman Catholic clergy and laypeople martyred and murdered by brutal regimes across the world, including, naturally, Jesuits. Moreover, the rationalist critique of Christianity and the Resurrection can similarly appear just as flawed, dogmatic and credulous, involving massive leaps of logic and nonsequiturs, as the orthodox Christian account, and the view of the Essenes and the ancient Gnostics and medieval Cathars are quite at variance with what these religious groups actually believed and were like.

Nevertheless the nineteenth century crisis of faith, and the challenge of modernity, liberalism and democracy, as well as the discovery of the ancient, alternative scriptures, has created a climate in which some people feel that traditional Christianity is inadequate, and while not rejecting it completely, have drawn on and reinvented and distorted the ancient and alternative traditions to produce a completely novel view which they feel is more in accord with today’s liberal values, and have read these back into the past as closer to Christ’s true message. It’s been said that legends arise when there is insufficient information to provide people with a genuine explanation. This has been amply barn out by the rise of The Da Vinci Code and its predecessors as genuinely confused people, seeking a modern, liberal Christian spirituality, have been fed novels and pseudo-history masquerading as historical, religious scholarship.



50. McGrath, Atheism, p. 141.
51. ‘Veggie Tales’ at
52. ‘The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ’ in Goodspeed, E., Strange New Gospels (Chicago, University of Chicago Press 1931), at htipa/ strange_new_gospels. htm.
53. ‘The Aquarian Gospel’ in Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels.
54. ‘The Crucifixion of Jesus, by an Eye-Witness’, in Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels.
55. ‘The Correct Transcript of Pirate’s Court’, in Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels.
56. ‘The Confession of Pontius Pilate’ in Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels
57. ‘The Letter of Benan, in Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels.
58. ‘The Twenty Ninth Chapter of Acts’, in Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels.
59. ‘The Letter of Jesus Christ’, in Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels.
60. ‘The Letter of Jesus Christ’, in Goodspeed, Strange New Gospels
61. ‘The Family Guy’, Kevin McClure in Fortean Times 210 p. 60, reviewing Baigent, M. The Jesus Papers – Exposing the Greatest Cover-up in History (San Francisco, Harper San Francisco 2006).
62. Charles, R.H., trans, The Book of Enoch (London, SPCK 1917); ‘The Gospel of Nicodemus’ in Swanton, M., trans., Anglo-Saxon Prose (London, J.M. Dent 1993), p. 207; ‘The Gospel of Nicodemus’ in Ashton, J., Chap-Books of the 18th century with Facsimiles, Notes and Instructions, first published Chatto and Windus, 1882 (London, Skoob Books Publishing, undated), pp. 30-1,
63, ‘The Egerton Gospel’ in The Complete Gospels – Annotated Scholars Version (Sonoma, Polebridge Press 1992), p. 412.
64. ‘Gospel Oxyrhincus 840′ in Miller, Complete Gospels, p. 418.
65. ‘Gospel Oxyrhincus 1224′, in Miller, Complete Gospels, p. 422.
66. ‘The Unhappy Birth, Wicked Life, and Miserable Death of that Vile Traytor and Apostle Judas Iscariot’, Ashton, Chap-Books, p. 32.
67. J. Doresse, The Secret Books of the Egyptian Gnostics (London, Hollis & Carter 1960), p. XII; J. Allegro, The Dead Sea Scrolls – A Re-Appraisal (London, Penguin. 1964), p. 17.
68. ‘The Gospel of Thomas’ in Miller, J., Complete Gospels, p. 301;’The Secret Book of James’, in Miller, Complete Gospels, p. 333.’The Gospel of Mary’ in Miller, Complete Gospels, p. 359; ‘The Gospel of Peter’, in Miller, Complete Gospels, p. 399, ‘The Secret Gospel of Mark’, in Miller, Complete Gospels, p.408
69. Vermes, G.. The Dead Sea Scrolls in English (London, Penguin 1995), p. XXX.
70. Vermes, Dead Sea Scrolls, pp. XXX, 36. J. Allegro, The Dead Sea Scrolls – A Reappraisal (London, Penguin 1964), pp. 104-9.
71. Vermes, Dead Sea Scrolls, pp. XVII – XXI.
72. Wright, Jesuits, p. 214.
73. Wright, Jesuits, p. 234, 237.
74. Wright, Jesuits, pp. 240-1
75. Wright. Jesuits, p. 239.
76. Wright, Jesuits, p. 251.
77.’Lateran Pacts’, in P.V. Cannistraro, ed., Historical Dictionary of Fascist Italy (Westport, Greenwood 1982), p. 299. 78.’Lateran Pacts’, Cannistraro, Fascist Italy, p. 300.
79. See Axelrod, A., The International Encyclopedia of Secret Societies & Fraternal Orders, (New York, Checkmark Books 1997).
80. ‘Knights of Labor’ in Evan, LH., Brewer’s Dictionary ofPhrase and Fable – Revised Edition, (London, Cassell 1981), p. 636.



James Lewis (ed.):Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions.

Click on the cover image to order this book from Amazon

James R Lewis (editor). Encyclopedic Sourcebook of UFO Religions. Prometheus Books, 2003.

Reviewed by Peter Rogerson

Worthy but rather dull would, I think, summarize this collection of scholarly and semi-scholarly articles and collections of primary materials about ‘UFO religions’. Despite the obvious ‘religious’ significance of much UFO lore, the concentration, with the exception of a couple of rather weak pieces, is on the usual suspects: the Aetherius Society, the Raelians, Heaven’s Gate, the Unarius cult (surely the only religion which looks as though it was inspired by Liberace), and a couple of recent additions; ‘The True Way’ and ‘The Ground Crew’. Perhaps these organizations are just the ones close enough to accepted notions of what a religion looks like to be the subject of academic study. The suicide of the Heaven’s Gate members clearly makes them a prime object of study. After all everyone is intrigued by something whose membership behaves in such a bizarre and extreme fashion.

The other movements discussed here are rather more tame, though I suspect that the Raelians might have the capacity to produce some very sinister splinter groups given time. There are detailed studies of their theology and practices, yet there seem to be missing insights. For example the Aetherius society clearly reflects a kind of fossilization of the 1950′s English class system and its anxieties, its members looking like suburban train spotters even when performing occult rituals on mountains, and surely George King’s compulsive collection of grandiose but meaningless titles and degrees reflects the insecurity of someone from the very lowest strata of the English petit bourgeoisie. Contrast them with the high camp Unarius cult for example.

The reader may get the feeling that these groups are just so weird and different that they can be safely made the subject of sociological study without too many students feeling that it is their beliefs and practices that are being put under the microscope. Material which resonates much more with popular culture, for example studies of abductees, Roswell enthusiasts and general New Agers is not so safely contained on the other side of the zoo fence, with an ‘us’ on the outside studying ‘them’ on the inside.

Peter Rogerson

Roger Leir: The Aliens and the Scalpel.

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Roger K Leir. The Aliens and the Scalpel: scientific proof of extraterrestrial implants in humans. Granite Publishing, 1998. £12.99.  

Reviewed by Peter Rogerson

Well this book is certainly not scientific proof of extraterrestrial implants, or anything else for that matter. One thing does emerge, and that is that Roger Leir has no idea how to write a scientific book, albeit a popular one. Instead of a detailed carefully explained account of his researchers and objective analysis of the results, we get an tiresome listing of the author’s life story, the minutia of his day (about the only thing left out is the nature and composition of his stools), invented conversations and the like.

This at least gives us an insight into how people get into the state in which they start believing this sort of thing. Leir admits to a feeling of inferiority compared with his more high flying cousins, including Ken Ring of NDE fame, and admit it, being a podiatrist (a foot specialist) is not exactly practising the sexy side of medicine, not your heart-lung transplants, or separating conjoined twins which gets you into the headlines. Leir admits to wondering where is life and career was going. So when a plausible con..oops I’m sorry, dedicated researcher like Derril Simms suggests you are just the guy needed to make the scientific breakthrough of the century, you might be tempted.

The operations recounted here sound shambolic, and included Simms giving ‘hypnoanathesia’ (to be fair Leir and colleagues did give local anaesthetics as well in most cases), a patient crying out becauce the local was inadequate. In one set of operations a whole panoply of star witnesses (the usual suspects of course) was invited, it is not clear how many actually turned up.

It is not at all clear just who did the analyses of the various samples, but none actually turned round and said “hey this stuff comes from outer space”. One guy, a friend of Simms, says one sample was boron nitride, and that this was a ‘high tech compound’ (actually it could be manufactured in any good high school lab). Leir was unimpressed. In some cases it appears that the funders, Robert Bigelow and friends, wouldn’t even tell Leir where the samples were being analysed, let alone who was doing the actual work and what their qualifications were.

Leir is I think fundamentally honest, but naive, and, judging by the silly ancient astronauts and aliens are manipulating our evolution speculation at the of this book, not entirely scientifically literate outside his own speciality, and is being manipulated by others. At times he sees to get a glimmer of insight into his position. He would like his results presented in a proper scientific journal, but Bigelow prefers the obviously more prestigious MUFON journal.

The actual results are printed at the end, and I am not competent to comment on them. Hopefully others with the right technical background will. (Scientists quoted in Abduction Watch were not impressed)

Untangling The Abduction Conundrum. Peter Rogerson


In Internet discussion forums Greg Sandow has been one of the most vocal critics of psycho-social approaches to the abduction experience. Peter Rogerson reviews Sandow’s critique and finds it flawed:

Highlight of the latest issue of the Anomalist (No. 7, Winter 1998-9, $9.95) is Greg Sandow’s essay ‘The Abduction Conundrum’. This has been hailed in some quarters as the definitive answer to the psycho-social hypothesis. It most certainly isn’t that at all. It is the usual mountain of special pleading, misstatements of fact, and cult of pseudo-openmindness taken to the point of lunacy that we have been hearing from abductionists for years.

I say pseudo-open mindedness, becauce the open mindness is distinctly one sided, there is no open mindness towards sceptical views of abductions at all, there may be problems in cultural interpretations of abduction stories, yet Sandow’s dismissal of Martin Kottemeyer’s essay ‘Entirely Unpredisposed’ as “one of the zaniest essays ever written on UFOlogy”, with the usual angry wave of the hand, scarcely betokens of open mindness towards that quarter. Indeed, though Sandow pays lip service towards impartiality, and makes a few mild, token criticisms of Hopkins and Jacobs, in reality the essay is just another extended defence of abduction literalism.

Thus we get the defence of hypnosis, the critics of the idea that hypnosis aids memory recall are dismissed as ‘experimental psychologists’ “who sit alone and think”, (oh dear I thought that experimental psychologists conducted, erm, experiments, something that elsewhere Sandow concedes, but only to say that they create artificial situations, or do nasty things like make children think they were lost in the mall), not like the nice empathic therapists, who deal with real people, and whose anecdotes one should therefore take on trust, and not both about nasty things like trying to verify them by carefully conducted experiments. The work of Spanos and colleagues is also dismissed (they commit the ultimate sins in not believing hypnosis at all, and shock horror, “quote from Phil Klass”) (Bit off message here Greg, your friends have been quoting this same article against the fantasy proneness hypothesis – wrongly as it turns out – for years now).

Sandow asks why do only some science fiction motifs feature in abduction lore, why not tales of visits to other planets, or possessing special powers? The answer is that there are, as there are tales, and a growing number of people who claim to be aliens themselves, but they don’t feature in the approved Hopkins/Jacobs canon, because these authors know what the “true abduction story” is, and dismiss anything that deviates from it as fantasy or screen memory. (Come to think of it, can anyone recall encountering the idea of screen memories in a non UFOlogical context? The only example I can think of was an episode of MASH, in which Hawkeye had a screen memory of being saved by or saving his brother from drowning – I can’t remember which. That turned out to be a screen for one of them trying to drown the other. The idea seems iffy and rather dangerous; what happens when Inspector Plod tells you, “I’m sorry sir, your memory of sitting quietly in front of the TV with your family, was a screen memory for you raping and pillaging the neighbourhood, no sir I don’t have any evidence for this assertion, but then absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Mind coming down to the station with me Mr Sandow, we have a hypnotist to hand”.

Most abduction narratives, which people construct, often to account for actual anomalous personal experiences, many associated with aware sleep paralysis and other hypnogogic and hypnopompic experiences, are based on the the abduction narratives of others. At first these were transmitted through supermarket tabloids, this was the source that Patty Price, the first of the really modern abductees, used in (unconsciously) constructing her abduction narrative. When narratives are placed in order of investigation and/or publication, the building process, in which elements from one narrative are carried forward into the next, with a new motif added from time to time.

Sandow has some fun at various psycho-social explanations, but if some broad psycho-social approach is correct, we should not expect there to be just one overarcing cause. Abduction narratives mean different things, and serve different purposed for different people. Fears of science, love-hate feelings towards high-tec medicine, guilt feelings about animal experiments, the sense of loss of autonomy, feelings about abortion, other sexual problems, abductors as parental and other authority figures, the abductor as faceless, grey bureaucrat, and more besides may play parts. The meanings change over times. Remember that when Bullard wrote his huge two-volume thesis on abductions in 1987 the hybrid fairy child featured nowhere in it., Within a couple of years it had become the main motif.

What parts of Sandow’s essay bring out, is the divide between what C. P. Snow called the Two Cultures, the mutual incomprehension between people with liberal arts and science backgrounds. Thus even a highly educated liberal arts graduate like Sandow, has only a vague notion of science, with a concept of the future largely derived from Star Trek. Thus teleportation, alien human hybrids, people being sucked through solid walls, all are assumed in some vague sense to be possible, because of past scientific advance. Science, unless everything we think we know about the world is wrong, actually puts limits on what is possible, but this is not a notion that Sandow takes on board. Thus, if not actually endorsing the idea, he calls on us to be open minded about alien human hybrids, and people being sucked through solid windows. Two comments. First after his strictures on the lack of rigour in psycho-social UFOlogy (Kottmeyer’s theories are too vague to testable), the double standard is breath taking: if aliens can suck people through solid walls they can do anything, the ETH can never be refuted. I have been hammering at this point for ages now and will go on doing so till someone deigns to answer (I suspect hell will freeze over first). Second, that if nothing is ruled out, we get total anarchy, nothing can ever be decided.

The correct response is to accept that if we actually listened to what the abductees are saying, it is quite incompatible with a literalistic interpretation. If you don’t want to deal in certainties, then at least it is overwhelmingly more probable that we are dealing with some kind of ‘virtual experience’, If you want to make absolutely certain, and perhaps set the abductees own minds at rest, then at least in the case of frequent repeater abductees the solution is to get them into properly monitored sleep laboratories, and find out just what is happening in abduction experiences, if anything. If the experiences, however real and frightening they are to the abductee, are in some sense or other a product of their imagination, then they can be told that this is the case, that they are in charge and can change the scenario of the dreams or visions. They can be helped, which is something that Jacobs in particular cannot do, with his doomsday scenario of despair.


Paradises of Grey Peris: Oriental Elements in the Abduction Experience: Davis Sivier

 From Magonia 69, December 1999

One of the paradigms now being used by sceptical ufologists to explain the abduction experience is sleep paralysis and the attendant hypnopompic states, during which the experiencer feels paralysed and may confuse elements of their dreams with the reality from which their consciousness has not yet fully retreated into deep sleep. (1) It has been remarked that much Western theorising about the nature of religion, such as the belief propounded by Euhemerus in the Classical world that it has its origins in the deeds of great figures of the past whose feats became gradually confused with time until they became gods, is made manifest in Chinese religion. The numerous deities of the Middle Kingdom contain a number of deified individuals admitted to the company of gods by imperial edict, and the pantheon itself is structured according to the Chinese imperial bureaucracy. (2) It should come as no surprise then, that the connection between sleep paralysis, the Old Hag and otherworld journeys to a fairyland should similarly become overt in oriental mystical tradition. One of the classic Chinese ghost stories concerns a scholar who falls asleep in a monastery, only to journey to a strange fairyland reached through a gap in his pillow. (3) The connection between hypnopompic dreams and supernatural journeys is obvious, and serves to illuminate other Chinese legends more similar to Western tales, such as that of Chun-Yu Fei, who became the governor of an otherworld state entered through a gap in a tree. (4) The parallels between this, medieval Chinese legend, and Western tales locating the fairy realm under hollow hills and the roots of trees, is likewise clear.

The similarities between the Close Encounter and Near Death Experience has also been remarked upon. Betty Andreasson, and Peter, who with his wife was abducted from Beit Bridge in Zimbabwe, (5) were both abducted “out of the body”, for example, as was Maureen Puddy. Judy Doraty, who was abducted in May 1973 while driving near her home in Houston, Texas, was told by the Greys aboard the craft that she had spontaneously appeared out of her body in their craft, and that they had not intended to take her. (6) This has obvious parallels with the beings of light commonly reported by those who have had NDEs, who tell them it is not their time yet and who send them back to Earth. In the case of the Oriental version of the NDE, this commonly takes the form of an encounter with an otherworldly being who looks them up in a book and tells the percipient that there has been some mistake before returning them to full life. In the myth of Hanuman, the Monkey of Wu Chang-An, the myth’s hero gained his immortality by ripping the page on which his name was written out of Yama’s, the king of death’s, book. This conception of a fallible, or at least easily duped, heavenly bureaucracy has its parallel in the numerous Western joke scenarios in which a bureaucratic mistake amongst the angels and saints in heaven leads to someone being taken before their time because of a confusion with someone who has the same, or a similar, name. The short-lived ITV 1980s comedy series, Dead Earnest, was based on just such a premise. The abduction of Judy Doraty, who saw her daughter, who had also being travelling with her, being deliberately examined by the Greys but who herself was not wanted by them, leaves itself open to just such an interpretation. Of course, perhaps the incident is better interpreted as a woman fearing and imagining the worst for her child during a period of intense psychological stress occasioned by the original incident and its possible confabulation during the subsequent hypnotic investigation by Leo Sprinkle.

Then there is the problem of the Greys’ eyes, one of their defining traits. It is through their eyes that the Greys establish control, sometimes almost devouring their victims psychically. The “mindscan” leaves them feeling that information has been extracted from them telepathically, while some abductees feel that the eyes promise something deeper, such as John Mack’s patient, Peter, who declared that: “It really wants to connect with me. It’s almost like it’s looking at an infant . . . if you were only a little older and a little wiser and we could have a relationship or something.” (7) This occurs as the individual’s own willpower is destroyed through eye contact with the alien, such as in Karen Morgan’s statement that, “Once you look into those eyes you’re gone, you’re just gone”. (8) Erotic feelings may also play their part, as in Barbara Archer’s statements about how, when looking into the eyes of her Grey abductor, “He makes me feel happy. I think that he likes me . . . I feel wonderful. I think that he is wonderful”. (9)

Although Spencer himself points out the importance of eyes to humans, and the numerous sayings emphasising them, such as “bedroom eyes”, “the eyes are the portals to the soul”, he neglects their intimate connection with spirituality. The painter Dante Gabriel Rossetti considered the yes to be the most spiritual part of the face, and the mouth the most sensual. In the pages of this magazine Peter Brookesmith has also called attention to the accentuated eyes of ancient Middle Eastern figures. The strongest religious parallels to the Greys’ eyes are, however, in Islamic Sufism. The ultimate goal in Sufism, as with other forms of mysticism, is union with God. Sufis, however, stress the importance of the Beatific Vision, with God’s face in particular the focus of their attention. This comes from a passage in the Qu’ran describing God fading away until only His face is left. This aspect of Islamic mysticism shows more than a passing similarity to Jacob’s encounter with the angel at Peniel in the Old Testament. The Hebrew term translated as “presence”, when the patriarch at last discovers that he has been in the presence of God, literally means “face”. There is also a powerful erotic element in Sufi literature, which attempted to communicate their intoxication with the Divine through the metaphor of wine and earthly, even homosexual, love. Al-Hallaj, one of the earliest Sufis, himself wrote poetry which employed the terminology of secular love. The relationship with God was compared to that between lover and beloved, something which recalled the “St Amour” of the Knights Templars. More than that, God’s face could be likened to that of a particular student at the madrasseh, who is possessed of a pleasing countenance with dark, limpid eyes. This mystical speculation desiring spiritual union with God, achieved through contemplation of the Beloved’s face and eyes, has obvious parallels with the above quotes about the mystical, erotic power of the Greys’ eyes.

Most controversial of all the Greys’ features is the similarity some commentators see between them and small children. Professor Jack Cohen, a reproductive biologist at Warwick University and the designer of fictional aliens for SF authors such as Andre Norton, Harry Harrison and Larry Niven, declared in a recent lecture to the British Interplanetary Society that the image of aliens either as dragons or three-year-old children was due to the cultural perceptions of such monsters impressed on Western infants at about that age. Dr Marina Warner discussing her latest book, Bogeymen, at this year’s Cheltenham literary festival, pointed out that in their insatiable appetites and complete disregard for social norms and adult behaviour, giants were really overgrown babies.

This equation between the infantile and the monstrous is often made plain in medieval Western folklore, and the religious beliefs of African and native American peoples, but is suppressed in contemporary Western culture. The peculiarly alien nature of children, who behave differently from adults, only finds its expression in modern society in contemporary horror films like Rosemary’s Baby and The Omen. In Africa children have a numinous element unknown in the West. The Chamba of the Nigeria/Cameroon border area believe that the inarticulate babbling of babies and the senile is the language of the spirits. Babies haven’t quite forgotten it, and the elderly are only just resuming it prior to their joining the spirits in death. This stresses the similarity between the very young and the very old, something often remarked on in the West but never stressed to the same extent, except by television company apparatchiks who recently lumped the fandom of the late comedian Benny Hill – again, the very old and very young – under the collective title of the underwear-soiling ages.

The appearance of the Greys, at once an old, dying race, whose appearance owes much to Victorian ideas of racial senility, (10) but physically resembling small children, is a far more powerful expression of these perceived parallels. Going further than this, there is the final image of Kubrick and Clarke’s epic SF film 2001: A Space Odyssey. This is the Star Child, the final apotheosis of the last astronaut, Dave Bowman, after he has made humanity’s latest evolutionary leap wrought by the alien builders of the Black Monoliths, who are also immeasurably ancient. This link with he world of the spirit is a matter of some fear to certain African peoples like the Baule of the Ivory Coast. They believe it is dangerous to bring two babies still speaking the language of the spirits close to each other, in case they plot against the living. This belief in the power of a primeval language also formed part of the medieval European mystical tradition, especially in certain forms of Cabbalism and Freemasonry. In the quest to discover it, children could be put in considerable peril by adults. Frederick II, the German emperor widely considered to be the Antichrist during his lifetime, conducted an experiment to learn this language. He ordered a number of small children to be separated from their parents and to be attended only by nurses who would remain perpetually silent. This cruel experiment afforded him no results, however. None of the unfortunates lived long enough to utter a single word.

The idea that children can be consciously evil, plotting against their parents, is extremely shocking to the contemporary Western mind. When the Avenging Embryo thesis, which held that the Greys’ embryonic form was the product of Western guilt over abortion, first reared its head some time ago, it was bitterly attacked for its alleged misogyny. Michael Grosso similarly considered the forms of the Greys to be based on Western feelings of self-guilt. Images of starving children from the Third World, dying through disease, famine, civil war brought about by the strains of the global economic and political situation and the ecological crisis, evoke strong feelings of guilt amongst some Westerners. Grosso sees the Greys as metaphors for the guilt the West has because of the impact of its technology on the planet, though the causes of this guilt are surely not confined to this. Western Europe and North America are the present dominant cultures, and their wealth comes to a greater or lesser extent upon the exploitation of weaker cultures conquered during their colonial periods of expansion. Many Westerners therefore feel themselves naturally responsible for the poverty and suffering on the rest of the planet, a situation analysed by the writer Albert Memmi at the beginning of Western decolonialisation: “Deep within himself the colonialist pleads guilty.” (11) In his analysis of imperial and sexual guilt as encoded in Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Richard Marsh’s The Beetle, he states that “this mechanism – the projection of Western guilt, fear and desire, on to the Oriental (African) – as Other – carries with it a considerably in-built penalty. It invests him with the power of the repressed . . . The forms of inversion of imperial power which this guilt produces include defeat by alien technological superiority (Wells’s Martians, for example), and not only the revenge, in appropriately dehumanised forms, of imperial subjects, but also the return of, or regression to, the metaphysical realm of transcendental religion, displaced, and debased, by the advance of scientific positivism.” (12)

Early descriptions of ufonautical visitors stressed their foreign features. The phantom airships were crewed by foreign-looking men who were frequently swarthy, and it is possible that the Greys were gradually elaborated from descriptions of such extraterrestrial visitors as short and oriental with slanted eyes. The mystic East has been a strong image of oriental culture since the days of Empire. Garnett quotes Benita Parry’s analysis of the fiction of Joseph Conrad, Conrad and Imperialism: Ideological Boundaries and Visionary Frontiers, as part of his thesis that as part of the guilt and fear associated with the idea of Africans and Orientals, “is the conception of colonial peoples as possessed of privileged insights into the transcendental realm and endowed with magic powers”. (13) The Greys, as elaborated from stereotypical images of Orientals. possessing infantile features, surely fit the above description exactly. Their forms articulate Western guilt. Like Wells’s Martians they conquer through technology. Like Dracula and Marsh’s Priest of Isis, they also conquer through arcane mystical power. The link between ufology and westernised forms of oriental mysticism, such as theosophy, is quite strong, and likely to remain so in the current fashion for New Age forms of religious experience. In seeking to change Western consciousness through espousal of an orientalised religious philosophy, the Greys may very well be said to embody the East’s mystical revenge, even if this revenge is brought about solely by collective Western feelings of post-imperial guilt.

The parallels between Marsh’s tale of terror and the modern abduction myth go beyond a common fear of the Other, however constructed. The Priest of Isis in the story takes the form of a monstrous insect, while the Greys are similarly described as insectoid. This fear is no doubt based on the strong repugnance most people feel towards “creepy-crawlies”. Marsh succeeded in linking it to a fear of Orientals through the ancient Egyptians’ reverence for the scarab beetle. Coupled with this is also the deep and abiding fear of loss of humanity – such transformations from human to the monstrous, with a concomitant loss of individuality, were the stock-in-trade of some of the more shocking episodes of Dr Who. C.S. Lewis once remarked that the ants encapsulated the two strongest middle-class fears – fears of the feminine and the collective. The strongly collective nature of many Oriental societies, such as the Japanese, is uniquely disturbing to the Western mind, raised on notions of individualism, a fact of which the creators of Star Trek were only too aware when they created the Borg, the ultimate gestalt creature. At the beginning of this century the Bolshevik victory in Russia led many right-wing ideologists to equate Communism specifically with the threat of barbarian Asiatics. Gurdjieff, the great Russian mystic and fashionable charlatan, himself taught that ants were antediluvian Communists, who had suffered the ultimate in divine punishment by being finally reduced to their invertebrate status. Several abductees have similarly reported the lack of individuality in their captors, one specious explanation given for this being that their life force is not as differentiated as ours. In view of the oft-reported comment on Orientals’ features that “they all look the same to me”, the similarities between the Greys and the Asiatics is too strong to be considered purely coincidental.

The gender of the Priest of Isis is similarly in doubt. In one passage he is described as male, in another as female, much like the highly sexed, but neuter Greys. Part of his tactics of conquest involve the seduction and debasement of Western women, like the tale’s heroine, Marjorie Lindon. These seductions have strong homoerotic overtones. When Robert Holt discovers the Priest in an abandoned house, he is first embraced in darkness by a monstrous insect which “gains his loins”, (14) before going on to his head and upper body. When in human form, the Priest, now represented as a man, orders him to strip naked before grinning at him with “a satyr’s smile”. (15)

Lindon’s seduction, too, has homosexual, lesbian overtones, as the monstrous insect enters her bed. Again, the parallels with the modern Close Encounters scenario which also has strong homoerotic overtones – buggery with weird alien probes and the like – are strong. The primary targets of the Priest’s tactic of seduction are women, undoubtedly due both to Victorian fears of female sexuality and the belief, predating the Victorians, that women’s sexuality makes them especially vulnerable to the monstrous overtures of the Other. These fears are of a group with Lanz Von Liebenfels’ confused ideas of a primeval humanity deprived of its superhuman powers through repeated coupling with subhuman apelings, the only remedy for which was the subjection of good Aryan women to pure German husbands. In origin it probably stems from the raids by primitive peoples to carry off each others’ women as wives or concubines, elaborated from these mundane, human concerns into the supernatural and monstrous. Most abductees are women, another example of women’s sexuality making them vulnerable to supernatural possession, a phenomenon which almost certainly comes from the same psychological roots as the vulnerability of Marsh’s female characters to the vile overtures of the Beetle. Mixed in with this is racial desire and envy on the part of the Beetle-Priest himself. When gazing on the naked form of Holt, the Priest declares: “What a white skin you have – how white! What would I not give for a skin as white as that – oh yes!” (16)

The Greys are similarly motivated by a desire to gain some element of our racial or genetic heritage for themselves. They need to interbreed with us, to spawn these hybrid offspring, because they themselves are dying. This racial envy projected on to the Other serves both to bolster the collective ego humanity, or at least the Western portion of it, has something innate which this rapacious Other, for all its power, does not have and at the same time exacerbates the racial fears upon which these perceived motives are based. The Other alien or Beetle-Priest – is planning to possess and usurp Western humanity’s most intimate defining trait, its very genetic heritage itself.

Marina Warner, in answer to the author’s question concerning the infantile nature of the Greys, felt that part of the fear producing the abduction phenomenon lay in Christian notions of self gained from Greek philosophy. The Greeks, according to her, believed that the self was one and indivisible, that each person was uniquely whole. Thus, the worst thing that could happen to a good Christian was possession by an invading entity, with the concomitant fracturing and alteration of their deepest selves. In cultures which did not have this view of the individual soul, possession was not something feared, but sought. The “scooping” of abductees, the removal and replacement of organs and the insertion of implants, although having their immediate roots in fears of modern biotechnology, stem ultimately from Christian fears of possession, or fragmentation of their indivisible self. The fear was that the person was somehow being clandestinely altered, and changed into something not really him- or herself, and that the precise nature of this change was frighteningly unknown.

There is something to this. Many cultures with strong shamanic traditions believe the individual has a multitude of souls unknown in Christian culture. The Inuit, for example, have three- an animating principle in the body, a unique soul conferred with a person’s name, and an immortal soul which journeys to the afterlife after death. The Chinese similarly have two souls, one of which resides in the grave after death, and one which journeys on to its eternal reward in the numerous hells and paradises envisioned in Buddhism. Shamanism played an important part in early Chinese religion, and even in the modern, technological world researchers have noted the importance of traditional seances in Chinese domestic religious observances. (17)

This view, stressing a straight dichotomy between a Christianity fearful of possession which believes that a person is indivisible, and pagan cultures stressing heterogeneous spiritual elements in the human constitution and actively seeking communion with possessing entities, ignores the charismatic elements in Christianity. The early church was especially open to the gifts of the spirit since the descent of the Holy Ghost on the apostles at Pentecost, St Paul being particularly inspired in this respect. The Didache, a short document claiming to be the teaching of the twelve apostles, gave explicit instructions intended to guide the congregation when attempting to discern which of the inspired individuals who came amongst them was a true prophet. The charismatic revival beginning in the black Pentecostal churches in the 1920s renewed this mystical tradition, though revivalist sects such as the Catholic Apostolic Church stressed the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as far back as the 1890s, and the importance of these spiritual gifts to the Quakers and Shakers in the 17th century is well known. Among charismatic cults like Vaudaun, the possessing entities can be evil, as well as good, so Christianity has by no means a monopoly on considering certain forms of mystical experience evil. The difference between Christian attitudes to charismatic phenomena and those of the various pagan cults which seek possession in some form probably stems from Christianity’s monotheism which forbade any contact with the spiritual world beyond the officially sanctioned dimension of the church and which possessed a powerful bureaucracy able to enforce that prescription.

This fed into Enlightenment attitudes to charismaticism which saw them as both examples of ignorant superstition and dangerously socially disruptive. Enthusiasm originally meant something like “spiritually inspired”, and quickly acquired a negative connotation in the 18th century when the term “enthusiast” meant something like “religious fanatic”. Religious zeal was a dangerous thing that had plunged Europe into a series of bloody wars between Catholic and Protestant, and Enlightenment intellectuals feared its return. The abduction phenomenon is a return of this mystical, shamanic tradition given a darker form due to its repression in the Western psyche, and its perceived links with primitive oriental and African cults. On the other hand, its appearance at the time when many Christian churches have taken on the charismatic renewal suggests that it is part of this common post-secular trend towards mysticism, rather than a separate phenomenon. Of course, to many people Christianity very much has a stifling, stuffy image despite the efforts of the Evangelicals. The darkness of the abduction phenomenon could represent suppressed drives towards charismaticism in those who subscribe to the arguably majority view in Western culture which finds such things in some way evil, or it could also stem from Christian charismaticism taking an oriental and technological guise as Christianity loosens its hold on Western thought. Peter Brookesmith has vehemently argued the latter in the pages of this magazine, while ignoring the universality of some of the features he condemns and the strong oriental intellectual influences on ufology. It’s a convoluted issue of which the only clear feature is that it represents a powerful mystical experience of a type discouraged by contemporary society.

Back to the suspicion of children, however. Some cultures believe that suffering children are really malevolent spirits gaining spiteful pleasure from the torment of their human parents. In West Africa there is the belief in “ghost children”, evil spirits that are born in pain and suffering, bringing grief and sorrow to their parents through their sickly condition before deliberately dying to inflict the maximum amount of pain. These malicious beings then reincarnate themselves to begin the cycle over again. The grief they inflict on their human parents sustains them, and the tears the shed are valuable items in the land of the dead. The only way to prevent depredation by such spirits is to give them names that refer to their unattractive features and evil, or smear them with repulsive matter that will make them unattractive to the spirits. When such children die, their bodies are liable to mutilation. This belief is of a type with the medieval European conviction that deformed, sickly or retarded children were changelings substituted by the fairies for the beautiful human child. The solution was to make life so uncomfortable for the changeling that it left and the fairy parents brought the original child back. This all too readily took on brutal forms. Changelings could be whipped, put on the fire or burnt in the oven, in order to bring the fairy mother to rescue it.

Martin Luther, on finding a particularly malevolent changeling in one of the German states, told the Elector of Saxony that if he were the country’s prince he would kill it and throw the body in the Moldau. When this suggestion was refused, he ordered the local people to pray in church for the creature’s death, which happened in its second year. Rather less brutal is the treatment given to deformed children by the Nuer of Sudan. They used to dispose of such deformed dead babies by putting them down by the river by the hippopotami who were perceived as being their real fathers. All these beliefs have the function of explaining the occurrence of deformed children and assuaging the grief felt by their parents when they eventually pass away. After all, if the children were really malicious spirits, and not the couple’s own children, then there was no point in grieving over their deaths. On the contrary, if the creatures were evil, their final demise should be a cause of celebration.

Interestingly, the fairies had human agents active in the stealing of children for them. According to Strype’s Annals of the 16th century, midwives had to swear an oath not to allow anybody to substitute another child in place of the mother’s own, nor to use any sorcery or incantation during childbirth. This has obvious parallels in both the way the Greys spawn children on abductees, only to steal them away again, and the activities of various clandestine government departments in promoting this programme of extraterrestrial miscegenation.

In modern Japan where abortion is common due to the prohibition of contraception, there is a real fear that the spirit of the aborted child will exact vengeance on the mother. Thus, special ceremonies are performed and statues of Jizo, the Japanese god of compassion, put up. Jizo is believed to comfort the souls of dead children in their endless toils on the Sai-no-kwara, the Buddhist Styx. Coupled to this are the kokeshi dolls, papoose-like images made by the Japanese to represent the victims of infanticide, those smothered or crushed to death. Often the killer is their mother. In the West there is an intense debate on the morality of abortion. To many Christians and others in the pro-life camp, abortion is infanticide of a type comparable to the wholesale sacrifice of children to the Phoenician god Moloch. To the pro-abortion side, such concerns are false. The children aborted are not true children at all, and it is a distortion to represent them as such. Furthermore, any ban on abortion is an invasion of women’s rights to control their own bodies, and attempts to impose it are part and parcel of a general assault on women’s rights by Fascist groups seeking to reinforce the subjugation of women.

It’s been claimed that, despite the claims of the pro-life side, few women who have had an abortion actually feel guilty. This may well be so, but the writer of this article has personally encountered women who have been forced into abortions by their husbands, and seen this as nothing less than the murder of their child. Grief, sorrow and guilt over miscarriage and abortion certainly exist. Although many hospitals now arrange to carry out special services for miscarried babies, the victims of abortion or the controversial experiments in human reproduction are far less cared for. An example of the ambiguity accorded to the victims of abortion was the scandal which erupted in America in 1985 over the disposal of 16,433 aborted foetuses found in a steel bin. The US Supreme Court was required to make a ruling whether or not these children should be given over to a religious organisation for burial. The final decision was a compromise. The foetuses were given a secular burial as inert matter, but with a eulogy from Ronald Reagan. Such a debate between religious values and modern, secular notions, both stressing the dignity of human life, has caused intense feeling on both sides and even motivates some to murder.

 Fundamentalist Christians in America have killed doctors who perform abortions, while the Red Army Faction in Germany, on the other hand, used to kill those doctors who refused to perform them as Fascists. The intense feeling generated by the debate, and the guilt some individuals undoubtedly feel, even if only a minority, may well seek expression in the spiritual sphere. Maternal guilt over the abortion of a child has already been expressed in the literature of science fiction in Ian McDonald’s short story “Innocents”. This particular tale, set in a future in which the dead are resurrected through nanotechnology, culminates in the suicide of a woman after she comes to believe the lover she has taken is her own aborted son, brought back to life by virtue of the above technology. Although the vengeance exacted is at the hands of the mother herself, and the suspected son remains passive, not even aware of his true identity, the story contains all the significant motifs associated with the abduction myth as interpreted by the Avenging Embryo hypothesis: guilt for the fact, gynaecological examination and operation by clinical, distant and inhuman beings, and sex with a creature who is really a child, despite his adult guise, with the suspicion that the situation has been deliberately contrived by the inhuman protagonists against the human for some dark purpose of their own. In this respect the interpretation of the obstetric experiments of the Greys as “avenging embryos” is quite valid.

As for sex with incubi, succubi and the spirits of the dead, these are by no means confined to Western Christendom. Among the Baule a troubled adolescence, impotence or sterility may indicate that a person has a spouse in the spirit world who is discontented. This will be confirmed if the sufferer has erotic dreams about someone they have never met. The solution is to have statues of this spirit lover made and a type of marriage ceremony performed. The earthly spouse is then obliged to hold feasts and offerings in honour of this spouse, and to reserve Thursday nights for sexual relations with the spirit spouse. More than the succubus elements prominent in the abduction myth, this has strong parallels with Elizabeth Klarer’s liaison with a spaceship captain, who returned with their child to his home among the stars. Perhaps it is no accident that, even though she was white, she came from South Africa.

It’s clear then, that the abduction myth contains strong oriental and African elements. The links to certain forms of Eastern and African religious experience probably arise from common roots deep in human psychology, the Western flower of which, as evidenced in medieval folklore, was suppressed after the rise of the Enlightenment, only to take a distorted, technological form with the dawn of the Space Age. The prominent orientalism in the construction of the Other’s identity likewise arises in archetypal racial fears being ascribed to the Other, fears which, although having their roots in the imperial terrors of the late 19th century, were easily elaborated and ascribed to the extraterrestrials once human enemies as objects of fear had been superseded. Intimately mixed with these fears is guilt, both imperial and sexual. These terrors, the deep Freudian fears of race and sex, are the most profound and powerful in the human psyche. Spawned from such dark origins, it is no wonder the close encounter experience is both compulsive and terrifying. It is also no surprise that the Greys, despite their putative alien origins, always retain some human aspect, for through them humanity stares at a distorted image of itself.



1. See discussions of this in, for example, Brookesmith, P. and Devereux, P., “The Great Brain Robbery”, Fortean Times, No. 107, pp. 22-24, and McNally, J., “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Temporal Lobe Epilepsy, Fortean Times, No. 108, pp. 24-27.
2. Guirand, F. (ed.), Encyclopedia of World Mythology, Hamlyn, 1968, p. 380
3. Lu Hsun, A Brief History of Chinese Fiction, Foreign Language Press, Peking, 1976
4. Op. cit., pp. 98-99
5. Spencer, J. and A., True Life Encounters: Alien Contact, p.165
6. Baker, A. True Life Encounters: UFO Sightings, p. 117
7. Spencer, p. 144
8. Spencer, p. 143
9. Spencer, pp. 144-145
10. Kottmeyer, Martin, “Varicose Brains: Entering a Grey Area”, Magonia, No. 62, 8-11
11. Meemi, A, The Coloniser and the Colonised, first published 1957, reprinted 1974, Souvenir Press, London, p. 57, quoted in Garnett, Rhys, “Dracula and the Beetle: Imperial and Sexual Guilt and Fear in Late Victorian Fantasy, in Garnett, R. and Ellis, R.J., Science Fiction: Roots and Branches, MacMillan, 1990, pp. 30-54
12. Garnett, p. 35
13. Parry, B., Conrad and Imperialism: Ideological Boundaries and Visionary Frontiers, MacMillan, London, 1983, p. 3
14. Garnett, p. 452
15. Garnett, p 456
16. Garnett, p. 456
17. Ching, J., Chinese Religions, MacMillan, 1993, pp. 207-208