From MUFON, new series 3, Summer 1976
When the last article I wrote for MUFOB was being written in the Autumn of 1973 a great wave was about to break in the USA. That wave at a time of great crisis, marked a turning point in our perception of the UFO phenomena. I look back on those days as the last days of innocence when one could believe that some simple, rational, explanation of the phenomena was possible. In the two and a half years since I have corresponded with a former doyen of ‘scientific ufology’ who believes that all intellectual speculation on the subject is pointless; with a ufologist who has faced Magonia, and perhaps seen behind its mask: with members of the ‘Invisible College’, and UFO researchers who feel there is an answer round the corner.
John Rimmer and I have spoken with a young woman who has encountered a UFO and its occupants in her bedroom, I have heard from a man who believes disc jockeys are reading his mind, and entered the boundary of a UFO flap area. I have spoken there with a ‘silent contactee’ to whom has been revealed the secrets of the Cosmos, which he may not reveal; listened to tales of miracles and poltergeists, of a young girl driven almost to suicide by the psychic impressions which overwhelm her.
Look at the films of the two years past: Earthquake, Towering Inferno, Jaws, The Exorcist – visions of a chaos to come. Who, in the days of innocence, would have believed that the whole of Western rationalist tradition could be threatened by a movie; or that a man could kill his wife, inspired by a medieval world view. In no sense can this dark artistic vision be separated from the matrix of folklore in which it is germinated. 1973 was the year of Uri Geller, that strange charismatic figure who set the spoons spinning, bent forks, and read minds. Geller incarnated our secret desires of omnipotence, the power to dominate things to our will, to liberate ourselves from the laws of physics – and other rules too? Uri was the voice of SPECTRA, the idiot computer god of our worst fears. The computer is god, the mad computer god rules our poor alienated lives. The game, the experiwent, the rat in the maze become the symbols of the new humanity “beyond freedom and dignity” in a universe where the ultimate secret is an absurd scientific formula.
As rats in the maze, Hickson and Palmer were imprisoned in the strange inhuman machine, where the all-seeing eye of God or Big Brother surveyed them. ‘Laboratory rats’ is what Dr Harder said, rats in the maze to be examined by the robots of the dark future.
And 1973 was the year of Bigfoot, the archaic force that resides in the recesses of our soul. He comes with the UFOs, too. The law of gravity is shattered, the dream laughs at us. Bigfoot comes with trickster god raven on his shoulder.
A new rumour arises, from Utah to Rhodesia – a young couple driving in some deserted place enter a strange shadow, where all the streets are deserted, strange figures prowl the landscape. The journey is into the badlands, a wasteland of the soul, where the sun never rises. The car behind you has no driver but eyes are on you. Or you find yourself in a strange alien landscape, the sky all wrong. A sort of machine speaks in your mind, telling of wonders untold. But no bird is in the sky, and no human figure to be seen.
The day of judgement is at hand, next year if not this. But we are the prophets, there is a paradise awaiting you in the hollow womb of mother earth, and you are the chosen ones. The flood is coming, but we are the emissaries of the space brothers, say the two. Like the cosmic twins, they will lead the chosen ones to the new place of emergence, a paradise derived from a syncretistic vision of Kurt Vonnegut and L Ron Hubbard. Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughter House Five – remember Charles Manson. Rumour has it that some who follow The Two will never reach paradise, they lie beneath desert sand.
Helicopters fly the night sky, what do they carry – terrorists who will blow up our cities, foreigners who will take away our way of life; Russian agents who stir up trouble, or Satanists who will drink the blood of our cattle. Whatever, it bodes no good, fear is contagious. Maybe the greenies will come in time? Another rumour, the real reason that the Condon Committee failed: a strange being landed in a New Mexico airfield, and has already established communication with leading scientific and military figures. Yet another rumour: alien forces have already seized control of our centres of power, an outside force directs our history. Rumours, dreams of alienation and loss of control. Time is short, the clock on the wall of AVB’s spaceship has no hands. “What time is it” asks the spaceman. “2.30″, the witness replies. “You lie, it is 4.30″. “I know they’re spacemen”, says Cathie Ropers, “They touch their watches end the memories come back”. The evening is nearer than you think.
The poetry of the absurd: a ufologist hands round a photograph of a cog-wheel in a flower bed. A hoax? or unconscious art? Another ufologist has a photograph of a rock: “Can’t you see the faces on the rock?”. A strange metal sphere lands on a Yorkshire moor, inside is a scroll. By some magical means it is deciphered to reveal a pseudo-scientific cosmic scenario. A contactee is taken from a hilltop, shown around the solar system, then deposited at his back-door. A few years earlier he was a central character in a poltergeist case. He is levitated, a voice speaks through him: “I am monk who has left something undone.” Levitation and ascents to cosmic regions are traditional feats of the shaman; our contactee is a shaman and healer.
Ghosts walk through walls, poltergeists throw chairs. A giant flying saucer lands on a bridge, which spans a river haunted by a phantom ferry, near a road on which a white lady walks, and a phantom rider rides. The building is haunted, a shadow crosses a girls mind, the air goes cold. Like a shadow obscuring consciousness, a shadow across the sunlight.
We come from Kansas – everywhere, says the air-ship captain. Tomorrow Cuba. Cuba is fighting for the new world against the old, the future is coming, liberation is at hand. We are free, we can fly, we can drop bombs, napalm. The airship people are nice people, an old man, a couple and a child… or are they? They are talking about a new gun, 60,000 rounds a minute. They begin to look different: Japs, the Yellow Peril. Then they are very different, angels or devils, butchers. Perhaps that is not the road to freedom after all…
In the quiet of the country the ship of souls lands, Adam and Eve as they were before the fall. They are a celestial couple. Perhaps they are the sky father and the earth mother, a vision of the eternal counterpointing, the fall into chaos. The ship of souls comes from a unknown country – “The Mountains of Montezuma”, there is a hint of another liberation, ancient America is about to throw off its colonial history. “We are the lost tribes of Israel, we live at the South Pole”, a lost part of our humanity returns.
“I am from Venus”, says the visitor, the messenger from the morning and evening star, guardian of the boundary between night and day, the conscious and the unconscious. The watcher at the threshold is a symbol of transcendence. Only by transcending the gulf between the conscious and the unconscious aspects of the psyche can man find a solution, warns Jerome Clark. Otherwise the Dionysian aspects of our spirit will sweep aside our safe, rational world. Humanity is on the brink of a chasm, says Charles Muses… a flying saucer hovers above… our only home. “Do you want a lift?”
The vision of Fatima, the great Earth Mother, Isis, Pachemama the lady of the corn, lady of creation and destruction. The sun spins in the sky, falls to earth – a dance of fertility, the lord of heaven torn from his high place. Phaeton having lost control of the power that is beyond his cope. In the name of Fatima the armies march: Salazar, Franco, the Spanish Civil War, the Legions of the Virgin. In the name of Fatima the lords of misrule burn up Europe. In the name of Fatima the Ustasi of Croatia create to most barbaric regime in all history. As I write this I begin to wonder if the final “blessing” of Fatima will be the race war which may engulf all Africa.
I have a vision, says Idi Amin, I have had a call from Allah; a great mission has been entrusted to me, a UFO has landed on Lake Uganda; this is a confirmation of my mission. I know when I shall die, until that appointed hour I am indestructible.
“A great ball of fire came from the sky, it entered my body, then I saw all things clearly, as if from a great height. Thus I knew that I was to be a shaman”. The durne-fire, bringer of the gifts of tongues and healing, the beam of light which struck Uri Geller, or Edgar Cayce. “I saw a light through the wall – I was afraid ’cause I thought it was burglars, but they said they were from Christ”.
When I was a child of two I had a dream. I dreamt there was a sort of light on the wall and a voice was talking in my head. No memory remains of what was said, but I awoke in terror, and the vision had remained ever since.
When he was a young child the Polish medium, Iduski, retreated into a sort of tent made of household furniture. There a great mole came and initiated him into the mole-kingdom. When his playmates went with him into the tent/womb they heard strange knockings and voices.
Celia Green and Charles MoCreary have proposed a new theory of apparitions – not only is the apparition the hallucination, but so is the whole experience; they argue there is no essential difference between apparitional and ‘out of the body’ experiences.
A couple drive through Yorkshire. They see in the early hours a sort of glow in a field by the road. They stroll out to investigate. Only a few yards away is a huge cylinder, “like a melon”. Suddenly an opening appears, giving off a light “like a sustained photographers flash”. They run away end drive off. During this experience they noticed a strange thing, there was an absolute silence, no night sounds at all. This little-commented feature appears in UFO story after story.
By now many readers must he wondering what on earth all that was about. It was an attempt to define the scope of what the UFO phenomenon has become. I am not saying that the stories and extracts above are ‘true’ in the sense that the scientist in his laboratory uses the word. Rather they are of the truth which is expressed in myth, dream, art and poetry. I further argue that UFO researchers who debate as to whether a certain story is ‘true’ or ‘false’ are posing a false dichotomy. I think that hoax, ‘lies’, fiction, and dreams may contain on ocassion a ‘higher’ truth than historical reality. I will also argue that we should evaluate contact stories, for example, as naive art, rather than evidence for the intervention of space people, and that the failure to recognise this has lead greatly to the sterile acrimony surrounding the subject.
Thus those writers who burn up pages of ink on arguing as to whether the claims of such charismatic figures as Uri Geller or Arthur Shuttlewood are ‘true’ or ‘false’ are asking the wrong questions. The real questions we should be asking are: “What is the appeal of such people” and “What effects do the myth-dreams they weave have on us and our culture?”
For myself, I think that Charles Muses and Jerome Clark are correct, and that the UFO is a bridge across the chasm. Not in the literal sense that nice space people are going to rescue us, but in a symbolic sense. The UFO appears to be a symbol of the ‘transcendence of opposites’, the mediator between the consciousness and the unconscious aspects of our psyche. It offers a way out of the twin nightmares of either a sterile, soulless ‘scientific future’, or a return to barbarism that the success of The Exorcist and its imitators has shown to be possible.
I sympathise with those UFO researchers who argue that we must not dirty our hands with stories such as ‘The Two’, or the schoolboys who claim to have encountered monsters in deserted railway tunnels, (on the grounds that such stories bring ridicule on the subject) but I must reluctantly disagree with them. I am forced to the view that we should consider such subliminal rumours as constituting a core of the phenomenon.
A vision in the night; the playground rumours of schoolchildren; the dream of a seer, the songs of a folk-singer; the ravings of a mad-man; the adventures of Everyman, unbidden and fearsome, what can it all mean? The only guide left to us is the saying of a Bushman to Van der Post: “A dream is dreaming us”. Maybe we are both the Dreamer and the Dream?
- Puharich, A. Uri. Future, 1974
Ebon, M. The Amazing Mr Geller. Signet, 1975
Dione, R L. God Drives a Flying Saucer. Corgi, 1975.
Rats in a Maze
Michel, A. in FSR, volume 20, no. 3.
Hickson & Parker
- Blum, R & J. Beyond Earth. Bantam, 1974
- Eszterjaz, J. in Rolling Stone January 17th 1974
Schwarz, B E. “Berserk”, in FSR 20, 1.
Gordon, Stan in Skylook 75,77,78.
Clark, J. “A weird encounter in Utah” in FSR 16, 5.
Van Vlierden, C. “Escorted by UFOs” in FSR, 21, 2.
Hall, Mark, in The News, number 7.
Vallée, J. Passport to Magonia. Regnery, 1969.
Vallée, J. The Invisible College. Dutton, 1975
Gemini, volume 1, number 1.
There are many sources for airship date. John Keel’s Operation Trojan Horse; Jacob’s UFO Controversy in America and Clark and Colman’s The Unidentified summarise most of the data.
Thomas, Paul. Flying Saucers through the ages.
Vallée, J. The Invisible College.
MUFOB, 4,2 has a bibliography.
There is a new study by J-M Corbe which I have not seen. Needless to say, none of these document the political repercussions of Fatima.
Eliade, M. Shamanism, archaic techniques of Ecstasy
De Martino, E. Magic, primitive and modern
Green, D and McCreery, C. Apparitions. Hamilton, 1975
- Sanders, Ed. The Family.
I have not quoted directly from the above sources. The purpose of this piece was not reportage, but to create an impressionistic word-picture of the whole panorama of the UFO vision.
From Magonia 1, Autumn 1979
tHIS ARTICLE IN NOW ARCHIVED HERE:
Originally published in MUFOB New Series 14, Spring 1979
Messages from Beyond
“THIS EARTH is now under close surveillance and profound scrutiny by alien intelligences from distant star systems. I am not being silly, I know what I am saying and doing as well as you.”
So wrote Norman Harrison (1) when he first wrote to John Rimmer, editor of MUFOB In a letter dated 6th January 1978.
Norman – at present living in Sheffield and in his early thirties – then went on to outline the different races of beings which inhabit this galaxy. The first race populate the fourth and fifth planets of Epsilon Eridani, and are “4ft. tall on average, spindly and yellowish skinned and totally devoid of any hair. Their heads are disproportionately large due to further evolved brain capacity.”
A second race inhabits three planets orbiting Canopus; a third race derive from Proxima Centauri III and IV. A fourth in-habits the two planets of Capella. Describing these latter races, Norman wrote that they are quite similar to each other and that they are “over 7ft tall on average, powerfully built and extremely agile, [have] fine blonde hair and [are] musically and artistically gifted. These three are of one Root Race type, corresponding to Earth Nordic.”
The stars of Betelguese IV, V and VI in Orion are the location of the fifth race of aliens, and a sixth populates the constellations of Ursa Major and Casseiopeia. In particular this race occupies the solar systems of Merak, Alcor, and Dubhe in Ursa Major. The whole race is linked in a confederation and their colonies are densely populated. Other than being humanoid, Norman does not describe the appearance of these two races.
“All these aliens have spacecraft capable of exceeding light velocity several times over and have the facility to set up impenetrable force fields as well as invisibility shields. They make use of unimaginably advanced energy propulsion technology and have extremely powerful electromagnetic- gravitic devices at their disposal, all capable of effecting vital changes in this world. Force fields and rays are extensivlely utilised at enormous distances: in spite of the long distance these are resolved to fine focus and can be intensified as required to influence the course of events on Earth.
“Many of their Earth contingents are military task-force or scientific field operatives. The remainder engaged in collating or compiling vital information, making regular operational shuttle trips and submitting dataa reports to their base planets.”
Norman received this information about our galactic neighbours by way of telepathic communication from aliens. These communications began in 1975 and occurred with increasing frequency over the next three years. In a letter to me dated 17th March 1978 he wrote that: “these ‘contacts’ can occur virtually at any time… I still hardly know what to think about the whole business – if these are hallucinations, I don’t see how they could contain information about the Universe which I never had before.”
One communication which he received was a kind of poem as follows:
The 3 names EPAMINONDAS
are Keys of Communication
Controllers of forces
Gravitic waves Impulses
Used in Invocation by Initiates
Who desired wisdom
One such Master was Qebsneuf” (2)
Apparently he does not hear or see things when having a “telepathic” communication, “The information comes through direct without any sensory impressions, vision or delusions Whatever.”
With regards to the above poem, he was rather tired and hungry when he wrote it down, “my mind wasn’t preoccupied with anything, I just felt more or less ‘neutral’ or indifferent. The words just flowed without any conscious direction on my part. This is always the case with either writings or drawings set straight down ‘automatically’. Very often the physically weaker or hungrier I feel, the more clearly the contacts are received.”
In fact, this poem appears to be the only example he has shown me of a literal form of ‘automatic’ writing. The majority of his ‘communications’ are nothing more than impressions which he translates into drawings.
In order that we can get a full perspective of Norman’s experiences, I intend quoting extensively from his letter of the 6th January 1978, sent to John Rimmer, as this describes in some detail the fate of humanity, as he interprets it.
He begins by writing about the ‘Observers’, who on the whole think that
“Human Western society is rapidly falling into catastrophic decline and Mankind is now falling into chaos and absolute folly. They believe there is virtually zero survival probability as a result of mental degeneration and moral decay combined with political corruption, greed and militarism. These and other factors, they feel sure now will destroy all human civilization within anothe half-century.”
This isn’t just pessimism or gloom-and-doom alarmism – these people are infinitely more intelligent, more truly civilized and more mature than any race on Forth, and have reached their conclusions via strict mathematical extrapolative calculus based in historical, social, psychological and economic FACTS. Most of these races have had an intimate exhaustive knowledge of Man for tens of thousands of years and the wisdom of their logic is undeniable.
“I have little to add, except that I am notified that a final terrible war will definitely take place (whether atomic or not) between East and West within three decades, and pollution poisoning will soon endanger all vegetation and animal species of the globe. All the most recent incidents positively indicate to me personally that the aliens are correct. We ignore and gloss over such dire warnings at our peril, and we have no-one but ourselves to blame for the destruction of our own world-home by our madness, ignorance and blind folly.” (3)
These ‘communications’, ‘transmissions’ ‘impressions’, whatever we might label them, were preceded by a UFO sighting, some time in 1974. (4)
Norman was then staying with a friend of his in the Beeston area of Leeds for a few days, when he saw his first and only UFO. His friend had just gone outside for a few minutes, the time was between 8 – 9 pm when Norman had a “distinct urge to get up and look out of the door.”
Opening the door, he saw between the doorframe and the rooftops of the houses across the road, a box-like shape silhouetted against the night sky. Upon it were banks of multi-coloured lights. The object was slanted at an angle towards the ground, and was moving from right to left in the direction of its central axis at slow speed. He heard no sound from this phenomenon, which he estimated to be gliding at a height of 1,000 feet. After twenty seconds it drifted out of view, although: “Why I did not step out into the street for a better look I don’t know.”
Norman’s reaction to the sighting was interesting, as he wrote that: “I wasn’t in the least bit frightened of it, but it did disturb me in an eerie way, as if hypnotic”
He went on to speculate as to what it might have been.
“It must have been a huge carrier vessel of tremendous motive power, capable of containing a number of smaller saucer type craft or several hundred passengers. By proportion and distance, I feel sure it was anything up to 300 feet long. A massive vessel like that must be able to traverse the whole galactic radius at speeds far in excess of light velocity who would logically build that big for merely planet to planet journeys. Who would employ that much propulsion and that scale of motive energy?
“My belief is that this ‘ship’ was from a giant planet in the hub of the Milky Way (Bigger than Texas!!!).”
Early Psi Experiences
Having read Norman’s correspondence with John Rimmer and having arranged to meet him, what could I expect on visiting his household? Norman had anticipated this question by explaining his circumstances in one of his letters.
“I must point out that I live in a working-class area and my house is not too beautiful, being a Victorian terrace council house and rather decrepit now. (I was away when my parents died and the old place was left empty for a year and bad weather and neglect have taken their toll. I’d do a lot but I’ve been unemployed for a long time and live only on State benefit)
“So my surroundings are not ideal for social contacts as you can imagine, I’m embarrased about this! I’ll probably sell the house before long and then I’d like to travel around – the Continent perhaps, who knows.”
When I first met Norman on the 26th February 1978, he told me about how he had experienced distinct impressions from 1968 through to 1969. He felt he had been picking up thoughts that were being powerfully projected towards him. However he could not pick up any words or language or such, but it was a “kind of thought expression that doesn’t rely on language. And not a true voice that you could hear… but the sensation of words virtually spontaneously,” he said. Usually he had these experiences when in a state of meditation, when sitting down of before going io sleep. Norman described his condition as in a “diminished state” when he had these experiences, but not a condition like a trance or under the influence of drink or drugs. On most occasions he was on his own when this phenomena happened but once he was walking along a city street when he felt that he could tell what people were thinking.
On another occasion during this period he and a friend visited a Spiritualist Church in Sheffield, when he was “awakened to Christian faith”. The Church was quite full whan they entered and the minister was delivering a sermon. As the minister spoke Norman felt a knot of tension build up in himself. They stood to sing a hymn and half way through it he felt a distinct physical sensation of a twisting knot of tension in the area of the solar plexus.
“I felt this oppressive, almost hostile, precense in the church, I felt a strong hostility, a threat…” he explained. At this juncture, a nearby usher approached Norman and his companion, and said in a quite voice to them: “Would you mind leaving please, I’d like you to go”.
“Just before he approached me this thing was building up to a real climax … as if something was tearing me inside out, literally”, and he added that, “This man sensed that there was something amiss.”
Norman’s friend experienced nothing untoward in the church, and was no doubt puzzled as to why they were asked to leave.
In 1966 Norman knew a girl called Angela who lived in London. He took her out for about four months, and was very serious about her, and “cared an awful lot for her”. However, in due course they went their separate ways. Later in a period when he was feeling emotionally low, very depressed anxious, physically depleted and under-nourished (6) he saw Angela’s face distinctly in front of him, as he was lying down one evening. She seemed to be speaking to him, but he cannot now remember what she was saying, except that the might have been asking him what he was doing, where he was, had he been thinking about her, had he missed her, etc.
After relating his experiences of extra-sensory type phenomena he then went on to tell of his UFO sighting of 1973. The details of this are essentially the same as described in his letter of the 4th February 1978. Then he went on to tell me about the extraterrestrial communications he had been receiving.
“I’ve had occasions, not just recently but I should say over the last two or three years, when I’ve been walking outside in the open, in a sort of park or recreation area (8) something like that. The more open air the better. If I was in a large crowd of people… nothing. But on occassion I thought ‘Oh, that’s a daft idea, where did I get it from?’, and then I’d suddenly realise that it’s not an idea, but it’s information. I’d have a sort of powerful influence to get a pen and notepad and jot it down. On some occassions I did this; I didn’t keep the notes, but there have been times… when I’ve drawn pictures, and I’ve had these images which were very clear when I draw them, what I myself perceived was not very clear at all, but in the act of drawing it came through with clarity. And it seemed to me that I’d sort of acted as an unwitting unconscious intermediary and I’ve had this distinct sensation that someone is using me in order to transmit knowledge.”
In particular there are three figures of which he has frequently had recurring impressions.
“None of them sort of stand on the ground, they all seem to be just suspended in space, and there are no buildings or anything recognisable around them at all. As though they were suspended in vacuum. They all have a powerful projection and I’ve not been personally intimidated, it doesn’t seem to me that they are threatening me or in any way warning me, but they have an air of warning or admonition, if you like. Sort of ‘take care’, or ‘watch it’, pay attention.”
The three figures are:
Aroniel. This personage is a “tall figure very straight, dressed in a long yellow robe, a flowing yellow robe with a high collar and he looks oriental. He wears a medallion in the centre of his forehead, and his own colour, his skin colour, is yellowish or shall we say golden and he’s like a sort of gold appearance generally…. He carries a book in one hand and the other is raised as if in greeting. The books looks like some sort of old book”
Mik-Ael. “This is an image of what you might call something like a Crusader or armoured knight figure; chain mail with a tabard or tunic. It’s a white tunic with a broad belt which looks metallic and has buttons on, and the tunic has a … red cross on it. He’s like a crusader, but the helmet is rather strange … it completely conceals the features, you can’t make out the face. It’s not like an ordinary visor but it’s a solid, transparent sort of plate with a division in the middle. At the bottom (of it) there is a little round disc thing with a wire. He has… full sleeves and gauntlets, heavy gauntlets and he’s carrying a sword in one hand.
“He sort of stands very powerfully with his legs apart. He presents either a challenging or shall we say an extremely aggressive, intimidating strength or just an image of strength. Its an intimidating sort of an agressive image. His sword has
a sort of red radiance… and he himself is surrounded with red, a deep scarlet or crimson. I should say it is crimson actually. It’s like an aura or radiance all around him.”
Uriel. The third figure “has long, flowing robes, blue and green, and has like a blue or greenish-blue sort of radiance around him… this third one has white hair and apparently normal skin colour or slightly blue tinge and a white beard and white hair, and he also looks big, powerful but not in a military or a Crusader knight-in-armour fashion, but he looks as though he’s sort of… tremendously ancient, tremendously, you know, tremendous power at his disposal. He doesn’t seem to carry anything, he’s got like a sash around the waist and he wears something like… one of the old fashioned robes of the middle east.”
Later during the interview he explained that the colours of the figures were directly linked with the type of energy they were emitting. He also claimed that he saw these figures in a kind of sequence, sometimes he would ‘see’ them fleetingly for only two – three seconds, other times they would appear for two or three minutes.
Usually the first figure to appear is the one who has supremacy over the other two. Then maybe a few letters or geometrical symbols will appear.
“They seem to be attempting to express relationships, but as I say, some of it isn’t in any sort of expressed language, but there seems to be a logical sequence or progression. It’s not logical to me, I don’t know it, but it’s logical to them.”
Many of the letters he has seen are from Greek and Hebrew sources: “I’ve seen the trianlge over and over again,” he said about the recurring image he has seen over the past four or five months, and has included in many of his drawings, “I’ve seen a triange with an eye in the centre, and I’ve seen this as a visual image, quite literally as though it was suspended in front of my eyes, in broad daylight when I was fully wide awake and stone cold sober – I hardly ever drink.”
This triangle is seen as red coloured with an eye in the centre, which is not like a real eye, but looks effectively like a bright red line drawing of an eye.
He then went on to describe the population of the galaxy, how at the hub there are regions of incalculable amounts of radiance and electromagnetic energy, where discarnate, disembodied ‘beings’ of ultimate intelligence reside. Radiating outwards from the hub, the state of evolution, culture, civilization and society diminish until we reach the very fringes of the galaxy where Neanderthal type beings populate the planets. These lesser planets, including Earth (as our Solar System is much closer to the fringe than the hub) are watched closely by the more superior races who take a parental interest in their evolution. Apparently at the present time there has been a resurgence of interest in our planet.
This renewed interest might bebecause: “Man is a very disobedient wretch and keeps veering off, and getting side-tracked one way or another. The guiding hand keeps bringing him back to dead centre there’s this guidance all the way. There is one definite path of evolution of the spirit and mind.”
According to him, mankind is being constantly helped by outside, alien forces. It was their influence which partly established some of the most ancient of all the Oriental religions. He claims that many early religious figures such as Buddha and Moses were inspired by the influence of the extraterrestrials. Even today, a small number of adepts, who have a profound understanding of metaphysical philosophy, and live in very remote regions of the world, are in direct telepathic communication with alien people.
Through alien intervention, and there are dozens, hundreds of alien races, some of which are almost immortal, the human mind has been triggered off to experience ESP, telepathy, clairvoyance, prophecy, predictions, etc. However, we have misused the forces and energy sources available, claims Norman, and distort things for our own greedy ends. We have probably, in the past, been punished for it afterwards. He quoted the examples, among others, of Atlantis and Babylon, and stated that global disasters are initiated from the outside and convey the alien moral stand-point. These purges occur because the bahaviour of mankind can become offensive and noisily wrong.
“Man has destroyed himself as a living specimen at least six times in a row, cataclysm after cataclysm. There have been several cycles of biological life, gradually slowly, painstakingly developing, then flourishing, reaching an apex then declining…
“The Golden Age has long passed, none absolutely none of the 20th Century is anything like the Golden Age. It is a period now of the pinnacle of machinery, it’s a pinnacle of mechanical contrivance, ingenuity is totally materialistic, physical things. It’s a period of total stagnation and decadence in what you might call things of the spirit. There is a complete decline in the ability to understand higher matters… in religious doctrine or philosophical things. Where are the people like Plato, Socrates, Aristotle? Where is the architecture, sculpture and art of Leonardo or Michaelangelo?”
He answers himself by explaining that the difference between them and modern contemporaries is “self evident.”
In the February of 1974. Norman had his first premonition. This was of a plane exploding in mid-air with people from the city of Leeds on board – an event which occurred three weeks later over France.
During August 1974 he was living in London when he had a premonition of the Moorgate tube disaster, which happened in April 1975. He also ‘knew’ that the IRA would be posting letter-bombs to people in London in 1975.
“All these premonitions seemed to me personally that they are being transmitted to me from an outside source,” said Norman, who related that he felt no conscious control over these premonitions.
He also felt certain that mankind would have some crucial contact with extraterrestrials in the near future. It will be with somebody like the Archbishop of Canterbury, or other such celebrity, and their reaction to the encounter will have far reaching consequences.
After my visit and Interview with Norman, he wrote to me on the 17th March, and stated: “I feel quite sure now that these telepathic communications are only the beginning – there must be something more to follow in the future; I have a ‘hunch’ about it”.
In the same letter:
“Although there have been no new telepathic transmissions or impressions since you came over, I have received a warning in the form of one pen sketch which showed a big explosion. It involves highly inflammable chemicals and will happen in Britain within another month. I have no more exact location than that, but I do know this much – it will involve loss of life and will be caused by criminal negligence and carelessness. This forboding is very strong and I know it comes from an outside source. The accident must be connected with a big chemical company like ICI or one of the fuel firms like Esso, or North Sea oil.” (9)
“I hope it doesn’t happen because it will be a horrible tragedy – it could be averted if only there were proper preautions taken.”
On the 2nd April 1978, Roger Hebb and myself visited Norman. During this visit he gave me a book of sketches he had drawn and he showed me the book he had been writing. He had started the book several months previously and it was contained in three large exercise books. The contents consist of many different chapters on a wide range of occult, fortean and ufological subjects, all of which have been synthesised from books he has obtained from the public library.
As with the first visit Norman delivered a victual monologue on the glories of past humanity and the doom laden future. In the letter of the 17th March (after my first visit) Norman seemed to be in an optimistic mood; he planned to buy a typewriter in order to type out his book, and wrote: “I’d like to contribute in any way I can towards fresh understanding and knowledge, it’s become very important to me to devote as much of my attention and spare time as possible towards that end.”
After my second visit he went into a more apprehensive frame of mind as can be observed in the following quote (from a letter to me dated 18th April 1978):
“I’m starting to feel a bit scared: Not really frightened but uneasy, apprehensive. I don’t know what’s causing it, but it’s like a premonition or as if I were neurotic or anxious. I’ve felt like this before, years ago, a vague sensation that passed after a week or so: this time it isn’t very strong, but there’s a definite tension in the air.”
Later on in the letter he adds,
“I can’t pinpoint anything, that’s what gets me, but I sense a threat, a menace; it could be directed at so personally or it could be something much more widespread, some terrible trouble brewing somewhere.”
On the 30th April, Shirley McIver and I visited Norman. Hs was in a more pessimistic mood than usual, and besides a reiteration of much he had said before, claimed that he had “become anaesthetised, I mean 30 years of the constant threat of the atomic bomb is enough to anaesthetise anybody against anything.”
In order to reply to that last statement Shirley McIver joined in the interview, and the conversation continued as fo;;ows:
- SM: I can’t agree with the acceptance of that state of mind, I think that to live on the defensive, to live with a defence
mechanism, to sit there and…
- NH: It is only by total acceptance that I find life tolerable at all. If I failed to accept anything of it I would go completely berserk and throw myself in the river.
- SM: Well at least that would be a positive act?
- NH: No, no, that’s a gesture of ultimate defeat, that is saying I have given up. Suicide – I would prefer to live rather than commit suicide and say I have failed. That is the ultimate gesture of defeat.
Earlier in the same interview we discussed his views on religion, and that conversation was as follows:
- NH: If you have imagination you can concoct your own heaven, and if you’re satisfied with tht, well that’s your fantasy world. Everybody needs a little fantasy this sort of thing does go on. Man is a drug addict, he’s addicted to food, and drink, and sex, and everything else.
- NW: Your views on life in other systems, do you think that perhaps that’s your fantasy?
- NH: I recognise in myself a desire to believe in such things, because I have a religious personality. I think of my self as a Christian… I’m not much of one at all. In fact I fall very far short of just about everything that Paul and Jesus said in the Gospels.
- NW: Were your parents religious?
- NH: Both parents died years ago. Neither of them were Christian believers. No, they didn’t have any… they kept the Bible in the house and never even looked at it. I prefer to believe in a deity and a supreme being rather than not believe. I take the lesser of what I consider two evils… it’s the prong of the fork. Which is better, to believe or not? And I think – I choose to believe I think it’s better than to be atheist for me personally. I think man has some inborn instict to look out and beyond himself and seek some kind of perfection elsewhere, something that’s greater than himself.
- NW: But you don’t think much of any forms of established religion?
- NH: How many people do nowadays? There is so much disillusionment, disappointment in the world because people have lost their sense of direction. There doesn’t seem to be much purpose in life any more.
To put this case into any kind of perspective we need to review Norman’s social and psychological background.
At the age of sixteen he had ambitions of becoming an art or English teacher, however his ambitions were thwarted by his father who made him pursue the totally materialist goal of having to earn a living. So he left school and became an apprentice in the printing trade, then followed a succession of dead-end jobs. Currently he is unemployed and has been so for quite some time. Even now he seems to have a resentment for his father who prevented him from gaining any educational qualifications and a satisfying profession. (10)
As recounted in the main text, Normans parents are now dead and he lives in theirold terraced house, which is located in a grim area of Sheffield. Apparently he has no friends whatsoever in the neighbourhood whose he can converse with or relate to, and having been abandoned by Angela in 1966 he has now become emotionally ‘anaesthetised’. So in effect he is now a virtual recluse (11).
With this state of affairs it is not surprising to learn that he has suffered four nervous breakdowns and is obsessed by the fate of humanity. Having met him on three occasions I can vouch for the fact that he is very verbose, and passionately intense about what he believes to be the gloomy and cataclysmic future of mankind. This fear is not generated by any love he might have for mankind; on the contrary, his fear is for himself.
We might with some justification speculate that his forbodings of some apocalyptic disaster are warnings from his own psyche; the cataclysm being his own mental degeneration and breakdown.
When we consider that he hates what modern science has created – a world of atomic bombs and pollution – yet venerates the very Classical and Renaissance scholars who helped create the foundations of modern science, we can only explain this paradox by quoting Clark and Coleman who wrote that our age “has destroyed the mystical, nonrational elements (of mankind) which (has) traditionally tied him to nature and his fellows. It has emphasised rationality to the exclusion of dreams, male to the exclusion of female, machines to the exclusion of mysteries” (12).
Living as someone who regards himself as being isolated and different from the rest of humanity, it is not surprising that he has transposed his ideas and imagination into an “‘extraterrestrial’ framework.
His concept of the galaxy – pure energy and ultimate intelligence at the hub, Neanderthal beings on the edge – corresponds to concepts of heaven and hell, Jekyll and Hyde or unconscious and conscious, with the mortal Human pivoted between the two.
Even worse, we do not have full control over our destiny: the aliens have intervened throughout human history in order that we follow the “one definite path of evolution of the spirit and mind”. Yet mankind cannot come up to this ‘parental’ expectation (13) so we are punishedd for our morally offensive behaviour.
To conclude, we might surmise that the messages of the aliens to Norman are metaphorical and symbolic expressions of Norman’s own feelings of guilt, isolation, alienation and emotional stagnation, which have emanated from his own psyche. It is no wonder that he fears the impending cataclysm.
- Real name and address on file.
- Norman concluded that this poem might be connected with some form of black magic ritual, and that the three words are analogous to Classical Greek. “Qebsfeuf” he claims must have been an Egyptian high priest or prince.
- This theme is repeated in a letter dated 4th February 1978, when he relates that: “I feel that we of the struggling Western world are now approaching the brink of the most crucial and perhaps decisive period in the last ten centuries of human history. It could turn out to be the brink of a terrifying chasm: I fear so, but I hope not. Much will be learned soon that has previously only been guessed. Some will understand, but many will be blind and foolish and destructive.”
- It is interesting to note that people who have had unusual UFO contacts, appear to have had a UFO sighting preceding their later, more bizarre experiences by several years. In the case of Paul Bennett (see MUFON NS 11 & 12) he saw a UFO three years before he had more frequent and stranger sightings. Another case in my files concerns a Mrs Josephine Elissah who observed a UFO in 1964, and then ten years later began to write down ‘messages’ from the space people. Similar time lags can be seen in the UFO literature. Perhaps after the initial observation the witness needs to assimilate the implications of their sighting and put it in some form of context.
- This comment in brackets is a rather curious statement.
- In a later interview it seems that he was at this time in Pentonville Prison for not paying a fine he incurred when found guilty of being in possession of cannabis. He was given a three-month sentence, which was reduced to eight weeks with remission.
- This experience took place when he was confined to a solitary detention cell. Norman had hoped to marry Angela, but because her parents disapproved of him their relationship collapsed. However this telepathic communication did make him feel a lot better and he was able to cope with his imprisonment afterwards.
- On one occasion he was walking through a park in Sheffield when he heard a kind of telepathic communication between a mother and son. They seemed to be separated over a long distance and Norman described this experience as akin to tapping in on a telephone conversation.
- This tragedy never came about.
- When asked why he didn’t do anything constructive in the field of art, he listed all the obstacles and problems involved. The fact that he doesn’t own a typewriter seems to be a major stumbling block for any progress with his book.
- The fact that he has spent considerable amount of time writing his book and communicated with John Rimmer and myself were signs that he was attempting to emerge from his seclusion. But after my third visit to him, he felt that any further visits by myself would in effect be a waste of tine. Since then I have not heard anything more from him.
- Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren. The Unidentified, Warner, 1975. p.240.
- Just as Norman was unable to fulfil the expectations of his own father or the expectations of Angela’s parents.
From Magonia 16, July 1984
Peter Rogerson examines the psychology of radical misperception, and the fears that lie behind the power of myth.
In his excellent and perceptive article in Magonia 15, Jacques Scornaux raises some vital points, among which are the process of radical misperception, and the failure of rationalist analysis of human society.
I would like to couple these perceptions with an analysis of some of the neo-romanticist attitudes which have arisen in recent ufology.
In trying to come to terms with works such as The Green Stone, it is dishonest not to acknowledge real difficulty. The gut-reaction is to wax indignant about the betrayal of integrity by the participants, who confuse reality with ‘dragon and dungeon’ fantasy. Given the recent press coverage of clerical condemnation of such fantasy games, it is perhaps wise to take the ‘new ufology’ route of trying to see the motivation behind such fantasies, without impressing ones own value judgements.
It is clear that, for example, the storyline of The Green Stone represents a process by which evil is defeated and cultural boundaries re-established by a series of ritual acts. Whether or not these events occurred in ‘real life’, they may well be the process whereby certain individuals are able to redefine their own psycho-social boundaries.
Furthermore, it seems that it is an excellent example of the main theme of the neo-romanticist revolt: the rejection of the intellect, the cult of immediate experience. For some ufologists the UFO experience becomes an access to an alternative reality, a twilight zone beyond the world of daylight reason. For example, Paul Devereux’s own UFO sighting takes on this aspect.
Devereux’s account of his peak experience is a prime example – ditching his own ‘naive realism’, recognising that the perceived image is not the same as the object watched, then it becomes clear that the ‘Earthlight’ or whatever is a sign of transcendence, a radical break with ‘daylight’ reason. The misperception, in effect the marginalisation of the perception, opens the door to the numinous. The radical misperception is, in a very real sense, a seeing for the first time, parallel with the sense of perceptual shock produced by such drugs as LSD. Here enters the idea of Magonia in disguise – the secret of the cosmos in a leaf blowing in the wind – going right back to the initial study of fairy-lore. We can thus equate radical misperception (or re-perception) with enlightenment.
Now let us try to work out why ordinary events should reveal their numinousness by masquerading as alien spaceships. Alien spaceships are contemporary cultural symbols of the ‘wholly other’, seen in other cultures as spirits, gods, etc. When the moon is seen as a phantom spaceship it reveals a sense of its radically alien nature.
This ‘misperception’, the enchanted glimpse into the mysterious heart of the ordinary, transforms the life of the percipient
This ‘misperception’, the enchanted glimpse into the mysterious heart of the ordinary, transforms the life of the percipient. It lifts them from the world of daylight reason and commonsense by reintroducing drama into the world. “Something out of the ordinary”, quite different from the dull, normal round, has taken place – at the very least the percipient has a good after-dinner story. To admit that it was ‘only’ a misperception thus deflates the percipient, it reduces them from being a ‘witness’ of the magical and ‘wholly other’, to being a ‘victim’ of a trick of light and mind.
It would seem that much of the neo-romantic, fantasy enterprise is a way of holding onto that drama and retaining the perception of the numinous. The ‘investigators’ now become figures in a drama of their own construction, enacted in its own world of meaning which is in stark contrast to the banal world of bureaucratic routine.
Ultimately the neo-romantic UFO quest becomes a protest against the hollowness of the world of ‘reason’, of senseless trivial conversation which obfuscates all real meaning. Given this glimpse of magical escape, few would willingly subside back into such a world. Where the neo-romantics fail is in their attempt to draw this encounter with Magonia into the daylight world by insisting that ‘these things can be’. Untempered by reason and commonsense, Magonia can soon ‘abduct’ us.
What is this ‘Magonia’ which is encountered in the shades of twilight? It seems to me to represent the ‘Wilderness’, all those aspects of reality and the world which are beyond rational control. It stands against the world of human reason, culture and ingenuity, which I shall call ‘Habitat’ (I apologise to anthropologists and others who may take exception to the term, I am simply looking for verbal symbols at present).
One writer on psychical research has used an excellent term to describe our encounters with Magonia – ‘crashing’. Magonia descends on us like a ten-ton weight – suddenly the ghost is in the house; the light on the road is a spacecraft; the polt throws the pots at us; Nessie surfaces onto the placid surface from unplumbed depths. Wilderness is upon us.
It is hardly surprising that those with an extremely strong commitment to some metaphysical ‘Habitat’ system should be extremely disturbed by this. Rationalists and Christian fundamentalists, deeply commited to strict rules and tight repression, when confronted with the crashing in of Wilderness, without so much as a knock on the door, not surprisingly are tempted to see it as a manifestation of evil, or at least cosmic bad form!
In the opening chapter of Book of the Damned, Fort compares the ‘damned data’ to the lumpenproletariat of society, unacceptable in the bourgeois drawing room. This is a profound insight, indeed. Part of the central force, the dynamic potential of the ‘crash’ of Magonia, is its equation with the untamed aspect of the personality, society and cosmos. Fortean phenomena are damned because ultimately they are signs of pure ‘Wilderness’. It is obvious that on a macro scale this ‘crashing’ can lead to disaster. Iran is a prime example of the sudden explosion of dramatic mythic power into a society, and the chaos which results when that power is unchecked.
It seems to me that Scornaux is correct in his estimate of the power of myths on our society, for good or ill. The Falklands or Greenham Common are excellent testimony to the power of a-rational appeals on human history; and it is not at all clear what myths may drive a world that is coming up to a close encounter with annihilation. There is just no way of telling what would happen in the last hours of countdown to nuclear war, but perhaps one could hope against all reason that there would emerge from Magonia an elemental, global, lust for life which would sweep all before it. Perhaps in this crisis of final despair all existing social ties would be broken, and all government, power and authority would be smashed apart.It would no doubt be the second greatest human tragedy possible, yet for all its pain and grief, might it not be an infinitely better outcome than that Last Winter?
A time must come when all the polite little articles and not so polite book reviews become just idle chatter. If we are to take our role seriously we must speak out at some point. For more and more people the shock that lies at the heart of Magonia is the realisation of a world order founded on cynicism, tyranny and mendacity, and defended ultimately by the threat of the immeasurably evil crime of mondocide – the murder of a world and all life, hope, love, joy; yes, even hate and sorrow! It is hardly surprising then that there is “crime, banditry and the distress of nations”. Indeed, the greatest imaginable sign of hope, and the greatest testimony of support for wise old Pelagius, is that there is so little, and that they overwhelming majority of people demonstrate, for the overwhelming majority of the time, so much love, tenderness, kindness and compassion.
It signals that human beings are not politico-economic puppets, miserable sinners requiring supernatural grace or extra-terrestrial nannying. Nor are they lumps of jelly whose sole purpose is carrying ‘selfish genes’, or spirits trapped in alien matter, ‘strangers in a strange land’. Rather we are the Children of Olduvai, the One People, the inheritors of the multiform cultures of our planet, bound for the stars. What dreams the dust of the universe dreams, and what greater hope could one have than this.
The UFO as an integral part of the apocalyptophilia and irrationality of the mid twentieth century
From MUFOB, volume 4, number 1, Spring 1971
It is clear from the accumulating body of evidence that the phenomenon of the UFO represents a far more profound challenge to our physical and psychological concepts of reality than has hitherto been assumed. As I have pointed out previously much of what is now occurring in this field violates the traditional sharp dividing lime between objectivity and subjectivity. Indeed it seems probable that the various manifestations of the, UFO such as fiction, dream, hallucination, hoax and ‘objective’ reality, far from being mutually independent phenomena only coincidentally linked, are in fact facets of a single mythological event.
The myth arising from the depths of the subconscious mind of the percipient can ascend levels of ‘reality’, even to the point of affecting the objective universe, (In the Appleton case mentioned in the last issue the ‘myth’ was strong enough to appear to produce genetic mutation.)
The present upsurge of ‘controversial phenomena’ would appear to be due to the reappearance of mythological forms long buried in the subconscious. In many respects it would appear that the rational universe described by 1nineteenth century positivism which had been the basis of scientific and philosophical discussion since the mid-eighteenth century is fading. At previous points in history when myths have been discarded they have been rapidly replaced by a new set of myths, which modelled themselves on the former. In many respects for example the scientific myth is modelled on that of the theism it replaced. It has had its prophets, (Einstein Freud, etc.) high priests who held the ‘magic’ secrets of the tribe which allow men some dominion or control over the external universe, churches,(learned societies) catechisms and ritual (theorems, text books) bibles (Nature magazine), not forgetting the heretics who must be periodically sacrificed to appease the anger of the gods. The purpose of all these mythologies has been to make the universe appear rational and susceptible to appeasement or control by man.
It is also patently obvious that such myths are essential to the development of rational civilisation, offering protection from the terrors of the dark. With each successive wave of mythology it has appeared that this mastery has grown stronger, and with the defeat of Fascism had overcome the last great resistance of medieval anti-reason. Even the ultimate catastrophe of nuclear war could only dent civilisation, we were informed; we could sit back, smiling patronisingly at third world countries where witch-doctors put spells on opposing football teams.
By now it is obvious that the dam has burst; the horrors so long buried in forgotten recesses of the mind surge out! obliterating all reasonable critical faculties, Look at the news in the ‘Daily Grouse’: “Devil Cults Sweep Britain; Rev. Nigel Queege: How I exorcised 10,000 demons by telephone”, to see this. There has been an unprecedented rise of superstition; nightmares known only from obscure Latin tones translated by Montague Summers emerge to inspire terror abroad the land. Trendy clerics like Mervyn Stockwood call openly for exorcisms. It seems that society is almost ready for the reappearance of Matthew Hopkins, the Witchfinder General.
In the United States it would appear that the situation is even worse. An atmosphere of brooding ‘apocalyptophilia’ hangs over the nation. In a recent essay on ‘Assassination Prophecies‘, by Gordon Prentice (1) it was demonstrated how the prophesying of people like Jeanne Dixon had created an atmosphere of expectation of, and even desire for, dramatic tragedy. This desire, the apocalyptophilia mentioned above couldn’t have been more clearly demonstrated than is the relish with which large sections of the American population eagerly awaited the prophesied devastation or even sinking, of California by means of disastrous earthquakes. There seemed to be something of an anticlimax when the nightmare failed to materialise.
It would appear that the apocalyptophilia of the past few years is growing, seemingly caused by a feeling in certain quarters that only some climactic, archetypal event can prevent society degenerating into a technocratic nightmare. The recent call by the novelist Gore Vidal for a new Messiah is indicative of the desperation of some people.
In many ways the UFO can be seen as an integral part of this myth. Two facets separate, yet complementary can be distinguished. One is the desire to escape to Magonia, a land of unsullied beautiful nostalgic tranquillity, a golden age of archetypal past.
Such views are the inspiration (apparently) of the various organisations on the fringes of ufology. One of the most notable of these is the ‘Ley Hunting’ movement) which seems to have attracted a great deal of support from the ‘hippy’ community with its harmonious appeal of a harmonious wisdom-filled Golden Age. The growth of these escapist elements would seem to support the views of the psychoanalyst and parapsychologist Nandor Fodor (2), that fairyland is symbolic of the womb, a land of milk and honey beyond time and space.
The second facet is that of uninhibited, elemental power of destruction the UFO as aggressor. This myth seems even more bound up with apocalyptophilia, containing as it does a desire for interplanetary war the ultimate apocalypse.
Such beliefs are not only the subject of nervous chatter among young American ‘saucer enthusiasts’ but also for example, in the case of the Black Muslims who see UFOs as the avengers who will destroy white society which oppresses them, the eschatological myth of a neo-religion. (3)
Thus the UFO is an integral symbol of the growing irrationality with its associated apocalyptophilia of the mid-twentieth century. As the two great monoliths of established religion and scientific positivism are crumbling the vacuum is being filled by horrors from the pages of Tudor history. There is little doubt that the UFO is among them. In the end it looks as though civilisation will collapse with a whimper because three hundred years of scholarship was incapable of overcoming the darkness of primeval night, when it came to the crunch.
Footnote: While this article was being written the Manchester Evening News of March 22, 1971 carried under the headline “Black Magic – Danger to Children” a piece about Canon Peace-Higgins’ ravings against the sale of ouija boards. In such a case it is not clear which is the bigger fool, the manufacturer of toys which can have damaging effects on emotionally unbalanced people, or the Rev. Pearce-Higgins, whose hysterical outbursts can do nothing but damage to serious parapsychology.
- Prentice, Gordon. ‘Assassination Prophecies’ in Ebon, Martin (Editor), The Psychic Reader, Signet (1969), pp60-65.
- Fodor, Nandor. Between Two Worlds, Paperback Library (1967), pp 207-210.
- Thayer, George. The Farther Shores of Politics (1963), (Chapter on Black Nationalists)
- Apocalyptophilia: (coined word) = Desire for the end of the world; a general desire for earth-shattering events
From Magonia 18, January 1985
It might be thought that after the noticeable non-appearance of the end of the world and the ‘Great King of Terror’ in 1999, Nostradamus’s stock would be at an all-time low as the new millennium took off fairly uneventfully. Not so. Already various prophesies have been manipulated and invented to show that Nostradamus ‘prophesied’ the World Trade Center attacks in September 2001. This article/review from 1985, in which Roger Sandell looks at the way Nostradamus’s words have been used by many writers for many different purposes, now seems to be more relevant than ever!
The sixteenth and seventeenth centuries were the heyday of prophecy. Popular chapbooks told of the amazing abilities of figures like Mother Shipton, and quoted after the event verses which appeared to foretell events such as the Spanish Armada and the Civil War. Real historical figures like Roger Bacon might be invoked, and prophecies allegedly discovered hundreds of years after their death would turn out to be relevant to the news of the day.
The writings of Nostradamus are the only survivors of this literature that continue to be republished and evoke a response in public consciousness. To some extent it is easy to see why. Alone among the alleged authors of the prophecies of his era, Nostradamus was a real person rather than a legendary figure, who published the prophecies himself. However, the reputation of Nostradamus remains a semi-underground one, with many who have never read a single book on the subject vaguely believing “there must be something in it”, or aware that Nostradamus is credited with seeing World War II or future nuclear devastation.
The reception of Jean Charles de Fontbrune’s book Nostradamus  has been the most remarkable recent manifestation of belief in Nostradamus. Its first appearance in France in 1980 was the subject of major news stories in the popular press of several European countries, and even inspired cover stories in journals such as Der Spiegel and Die Ziet. An opinion poll in France shortly after its publication revealed astonishingly that 75% of the French population were aware of this book, and 25% believed its forecasts of the future.
To a large extent this book has now discredited itself. It is now 1985 and there is no sign of the Soviet-Arab invasion of Europe, which should already have taken place, according to de Fontbrume’s readings. And while sudden surprises do occur in the political world, there seems little reason to expect the restoration of the French monarchy by 1986, his final date for these events. These facts however did not prevent Hutchinsons bringing out the British edition in 1983, when some predictions had already been falsified, and Corgi from reprinting it last year. An eloquent testimony to the scant regard publishers have for their own books on occultism and their low opinion of the intelligence of potential readers. However, since this is unlikely to be the last Nostradamus book, it is worth examining de Fontbrune’s methods in some detail.
To vindicate the prophet’s previous record, the author translates Nostradamus’s sixteenth century verses into modern English (or French, in the books original edition) and compares them with later events from the sixteenth century to the present. A wide variety of events are claimed as fulfilling Nostradamus’s predictions, including the careers of Louis XIV and Napoleon, the Russian revolution and the World Wars. To a casual reader the results may seem impressive. However it does not take very detailed examination to arouse great doubts, not only about Nostradamus, but also about de Fontbrune. First there are some cases in which the prophecy manifestly bears no relation to the event de Fontbrune claims fulfilled it. Take for example the prophecy
L’anne Royal sur coursier voligeant
Picquer viendra si rudiment courir,
Gueule lipée pied dans l’estrein pleignant
Traine tire, horriblement mourir.
The king’s eldest son, on a runaway horse, will suddenly fall headfirst in its rush, the horse’s mouth being injured in the lip, with the rider’s foot caught, groaning, dragged and pulled, he will die horribly.” [All translations are de Fontbrune's]
This specifically describes a riding accident in which a rider falls with his foot rapped in the stirrup and is dragged by the horse. De Fontbrune is obviously unable to find any royal heir who has died in this manner, so he claims this relates to the death in 1842 of the eldest son of Louis Phillipe of France who died, as the book itself makes clear, by being thrown out of a coach pulled by a bolting horse. A very different matter.
Other prophecies bear more relation to their alleged fulfillment, but are too vague to be taken seriously. For example, de Fontbrune solemnly claims the failure of East-West disarmament talks is indicated by the prophecy:
Plusieurs viendrant et parleront de paix
Entre monarques et seigneurs bien puissant
Mais ne sera accordé de si pres
Que ne se rendent plus qu’autres obeissant
There will be talk of peace between powerful heads of state but peace will not be agreed for the heads of state will be no wiser than any other.
Surely it would be tedious to list the number of failed peace conferences since the sixteenth century that could be claimed to fulfill this prophecy.
The game of finding alternative interpretations of Nostradamus can be carried on indefinitely. Thus de Fontbrune claims that the Jewish settlement of Palestine is foretold by:
Nouveax venus lieu basty sans défence
Occuper la place par lors inhabitable
Prez, maison, champs, villes, prendre a plaisance
Faim, peste, guerre, arpen long labourable
Newcomers will build town without defence and occupy hitherto uninhabitable places. They will take with pleasure fields, houses lands and towns. Then famine sickness and war shall be on the land tilled for a long time.
In fact these words could equally apply to the opening of the American west, followed by the civil War and the Indian Wars, or to the British settlement of the Falkland Islands and the war with Argentina.
Even when specific placenames are given, plenty of ambiguity remains. De Fontbrune relates the lines:
Par vie et mort changé regne d’Ongrie
La loy sera plus aspre que service …
Power will be changed by life and death in Hungary. The law will be more pitiless than customs.
to the Hungarian uprising of 1956 but they fit equally the Communist revolt of 1919 or the nationalist rising of 1848. Indeed, it would be hard to think of a country that, since the time of Nostradamus, has not had some kind of revolution to which these words apply.
There are other serious objections to Fontbrune. The most serious is that like most modern commentators, he makes no attempt to put Nostradamus in the context of his own time, and analyze what his language and references meant to his original audience. As anyone who has ever read any commentaries to Shakespeare will know, this is a job which, as with any writer of the past, calles for a great deal of knowledge. With someone like Nostradamus, who deliberately cloaked his words in obscurity, it is doubly difficult.
De Fontbrune refers to this problem in his introduction, and at times makes great play of deciphering Nostradamus’s obscure classical references. However at other times he chooses to ignore the plain meaning that the prophecies would have conveyed to their original audiences. Thus he takes references to les rouges as meaning ‘Reds’ in the modern sense, whereas in the sixteenth century it would have been understood as referring to Roman Catholic cardinals. One particular blatant example is his interpretation of the verse that states:
Du Lac leman les sermons fascheront
Des jours seront reduits par les semaines
Puis mois, puis an puis tous défailleront
Les magistrats damneront lers lois vaines
The speeches at the Lake of Geneva will cause ferment; days will be followed by weeks then months, then years, then everything will collapse an legislators will curse their vain laws.
This is taken to refer to Geneva’s modern role as a centre for international conferences, and the neglect of the Geneva Convention in modern warfare. But it would have been obvious to any reader of Nostradamus’s time that this was simply a prediction of the fall of Calvinist Geneva, which was known throughout Europe for its long sermons and harsh laws.
When one attempts to look at Nostradamus in this light, many apparently impressive hits start to fade away. Like many writers, de Fontbrune is impressed by one verse that contains the names of two twentieth-century Spanish leaders: Rivera and Franco (in ‘Castelfranco’). However, Rivera and Castelfranco are both towns in northern Italy, where many wars were fought in the sixteenth century. There is a similar explanation for the repeated claim (not however to be found in de Fontbrune’s book) that Nostradamus’s mentions of ‘Hister’ are prophecies of the life of Hitler. Although this is perhaps the best known of Nostradamus’s ‘hits’ in fact Hister is simply the Latin name for the Danube, and it is clear from the contexts in which this name appears that that he is writing of a river, not a person.
Worse is to come. There are places where de Fontbrune’s translations into modern language are gravely misleading. For some reason he seems to be determined to conceal from his readers that astrology is central to the prophet’s writings. In one instance he translates the line Satur au boef, Iove en l’eau, Mars an fleiche, as “When the time comes for violence and revolution, wars will spread”. It clearly means nothing of the kind, and is an astrological reference to Saturn in Taurus, Jupiter in Aquarius and Mars in Sagittarius. On other occasions he misrepresents the original to make it appear that a prophecy has been fulfilled. When we are told that Nostradamus wrote:
The leader who will have lead the immortal people far from its own sky will end his life in the middle of the sea on a rocky island with a population of five thousand whose language and customs are different.
It seems a convincing of Napoleon’s exile on St Helena, but on turning to the original one finds:
Le chef qu’aura conduict people infiny
Loing de son cil, de meurs et langue estrange
Cinq mil en Crete et tessalie finy.
Crete and Thessaly have become “a rocky island”. There are many similar examples. Le sainct empire viendra en Germanie becomes “The Russians will come into Afghanistan”. We are told that Russia is le sainct empire because of its traditional name of Holy Russia, but there is little explanation of how Germanie has become ‘Afghanistan’.
Can misrepresentation go further? Indeed it can. The whole context of the prophecies is misrepresented. The majority of them come from the Centuries, Nostradamus’s main collection of prophetic verses, but some of them are reprinted from another of his works, the Presages. However, the reader is not informed that the Presages were a sort of almanac with predictions attached, very unsuccessfully, to specific months in the near future. De Fontbrune ignores this and links verses from the Presages to events centuries after Nostradamus.
He also suppresses the introduction Nostradamus wrote to his original Centuries in which he gives a prose outline of his predictions for the future of Europe, which bear no resemblance to anything that has really happened. For example, he predicts a revival of the venetian Empire so that by the end of the eighteenth century it would be as powerful as Rome. The compiler quotes merely half a sentence from this introduction, and does it in a way that makes his deliberate misrepresentation clear. Nostradamus foretells that the eighteenth century will see a major persecution of the Church which will last to 1792. De Fontbrune takes only the second half of this sentence and quotes it as “It [the French monarchy] will last until 1792″.
From the past, de Fontbrune moves on to depict an immediate future (when the book was written) in which Europe is invaded by Soviet and Arab armies, liberated by Anglo-American forces. A restored French monarch, King Henry, completes the rout of the invaders. Apart from the presence of Russians and Americans, all these themes do in fact correspond to important elements in the prophecies of Nostradamus, but her again they must be taken within the context of their times.
Most of the prophecies relate to what Nostradamus expected for his near-future. He states in his introduction that he cloaks his prophecies in obscure language to protect himself from the authorities, a procedure that would be pointless if he really thought they related to events centuries hence which would be meaningless to his contemporaries.. There are certainly many verses that indicate he expected a major war between Christendom and Islam in the future, but this would hardly be surprising in an era when the Turks still threatened Vienna and Arab pirates raided all over the Mediterranean.
Similarly, the lines de Fontbrune interprets as referring to an Anglo-American landing in France against the invaders do indicate that Nostradamus expected to see another era when the English occupied much of France as they did in the Middle Ages. Once again, with the English expelled from Calais only in 1555, the year he published his Centuries, and English kings still formally claiming the French throne, this would not have seemed surprising to his contemporaries. As for the all-conquoring Henry, all the evidence is that Nostradamus expected his contemporary, King Henry II of France to fulfill this role, in accordance with the conventions of the prophetic literature of the period. This frequently proclaimed that some contemporary ruler would prove to be a messianic figure who would unite Europe, reconcile the churches and regain Jerusalem. Oliver Cromwell, Edward VI of England and Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden were all candidates in different writings. 
Much interesting background to Nostradamus is to be found in the book by David Pitt Francis , who unlike de Fontbrune, makes a serious attempt to present Nostradamus in the context of his times and as a result comes to largely sceptical conclusions. However in the process he does resort to some dubious arguments. His attempt to compile a statistical analysis of Nostradamus does not seem convincing to me, in view of the difficulty of properly quantifying much of the data. Neither does there seem to be much real evidence for his suggestion that some later rulers may have deliberately undertaken certain acts to make it look as if Nostradamus predicted their actions.
It is not clear until the final section that the author is an evangelical Christian who believes that some of Nostradamus’s successes may have come from his knowledge of the prophetic books of the Bible. I find this suggestion neither necessary nor convincing, although like most other authors of the prophetic literature of the period, Nostradamus was probably influenced by the apocalyptic sections of the Bible.
The revival of interest in Nostradamus at the present time is an interesting phenomenon. De Fontbrune was probably fortunate in that his book, which touched much of the interest off, first appeared in 1980 at a time when international tension was growing and fears of a nuclear war were reaching public consciousness. Although there is no real reason to believe that Nostradamus foresaw any of this, the revival of interest in centuries-old apocalyptic works is a very real sign of the times.
1. Jean-Charles de Fontbrune. Nostradamus; Countdown to Apocalypse. Hutchinson, 1983; Corgi, 1984.
2. Keith Thomas. Religion and the decline of Magic, Weidenfeld, 1971.
3. David Pitt Francis. Nostradamus; prophecies of present times? Aquarian Press, 1984
“The collective unconscious, too long repressed, will break free, overwhelm the world and usher in a world of madness, superstition and terror… war, anarchy and fascism.”
Kenneth Ring and Jenny Randles have noted the similarities between abductions and the near-death experience, so let us start this section with a very abduction-like NDE.
Dannian Brinkley, an ex-soldier and intelligence agent is on the phone when he is struck by lightning. He then has a typical NDE, experiencing images such as the tunnel, the Being of Light, and the life review. Then he is taken up by the Being to a crystal city where he is led into a cathedral of learning. The Being disappears, leaving him alone, or with invisible spirits. Then, on a podium, thirteen great Beings of Light present him with visions of the End Time. These conform to a classic right-wing agenda: domestic collapse, and the alliance of Arabs and orientals against the west, Syrians developing chemical weapons, nuclear catastrophe and starvation in Russia, a Sino-Russian war, a war in the desert between two vast armies, a computer genius who controls the world by inserting computer chips under people’s skin, and many similar prophecies. To prevent this, Brinkley is given a mission to build meditation rooms. Returned to life, and a surprisingly good recovery, he possesses powers of telepathy and other wild talents (Brinkley and Parry, passim.).
The perceptive reader will have seen the cultural symbolism: the desert war, now being touted as a premonition of the Gulf War but originally no doubt supposed to be the Battle of Armageddon, and the computer expert who is in fact the Antichrist, the Beast of Revelations who will mark everyone with 666.
For the Buryats of Siberia, Brinkley would have been a lightning shaman, empowered by the lightning bolt. In some cultures the lightning shaman is dismembered and reassembled with another strike. After being struck by lightning the Blackfoot medicine man Wolf Head developed wild talents and high creative abilities. (36) An example of the second motif is Wovoka, the leader of the 1890 Native-American ghost dance movement. He became ill during an eclipse of the sun in January 1887, and claimed to have had a NDE vision of a land of ancestors, and being instructed by God to establish a new movement which would reunite the dead and the living. The mythology took on an increasingly apocalyptic tone as it developed with visions of earthquake, fire and flood, which would sweep the white soldiers away. (37)
Other modern near-death experiencers have apocalyptic visions. Ring presents a number which have similar features; many will perish in earthquakes, fire and flood; there will be nuclear catastrophe or economic collapse, but a saved remnant will be able to rebuild a new world of peace and hope. These people are “educated” and prepared for this new world. (38) Folk images such as the sinking of California and the pole shift occur frequently. As with Brinkley, many of these images reflect the visionary’s own political views, and we should note the symbolism of the polar shift, a crude literalisation and secularisation of “the world turned upside down”, when the rich and powerful will be thrown down and the poor and oppressed exalted.
Similar apocalyptic visions are produced by the techniques of post-life progression as pioneered by Helen Wambach and Chet Snow, (39) who again produce vistas of catastrophe, including a Soviet attack on western Europe while the USA is preoccupied with the little matter of the sinking of California (all this in 1998). As we are creasing ourselves with laughter at this little gem, the laughter freezes on our lips, for what Snow next calmly says: in the future there will be only two types of humanity, the garbage and the garbage men. Suddenly the toothy grin of the New Age guru widens to a vast chasm leading straight to the gas chambers of Auschwitz.
Snow drags in UFO abductions, and abductees now bring their own apocalypticism. Mack’s subjects turn up images of ecological catastrophe, earthquake and flood. Amongst the billions who will die, a few will escape in a UFO-arranged Rapture (Mack, pp 40-41). This apocalypticism mingles readily with a sense of mission. Thus “Ed” has a “great agenda connected with ecological catastrophe and the weeping of the spirits”. “Scott” has visions of being an alien messenger from a wasteland world, saying “they” will only feel safe to land when AIDS has wiped out most of humanity. “Joe” believes a hybridisation programme is creating a new humanity to repopulate a post-catastrophe world. “Peter” has “vivid, disturbing apocalyptic images” of earth changes and the sinking of the US West Coast, followed by the millennial golden age. Elsewhere, Donna says she is a mouthpiece for the aliens in the End Times (Randles).
The images of the abductees are more than echoed by the imagery of the post-secular ufologists. Randles, Ring and Mack all include dramatic apocalyptic imagery. Randles takes a classic post-millennialist stance that the millennium is coming into being in history, through a process of amelioration and reform:
We are gradually being turned into star children… cosmic citizens, Omega people… This experience exists despite us and because of us… bathing every thinking person in the heady scent of true reality. For the world is a stranger place than we can possibly imagine and the universe is infinitely stranger. That is what we are being taught by all of this. We are climbing a stairway to the stars with a dazzling light far ahead of us at the top. We do not know where we are going or why we have to go there, but we know it is as inevitable a journey as life itself… we will all get there in the end. And when we do arrive, I suspect we might well find that our joy is short-lived. For we are only on the first floor of a very tall building. (Randles, pp 205-6)
Ring has a basically post-millennial, but much more dramatically apocalyptic vision:
What we see with imaginal vision is a representation of our future environment (by which I) am not talking about some purported after-death world. I mean that it will become our environmental setting before death. Indeed the world of the dead and the world of the living are ones between which there may eventually be no longer a sharp distinction. Veils will be lifted from the face of the non-physical, and we ourselves will become diaphanous beings, with bodies of light. …the shamanizing of humankind… a major shift in levels of consciousness that will eventually lead to humanity being able to live in two worlds at once – the physical and the imaginal.
We shall have a new consensus world, but it won’t have anything to do with “the senses” (rather) an expanded ability on the part of human beings for imaginal vision. And what that would mean is no less than this: Humanity would be led back to its true home in the realm of the imagination where it would be liberated to live in mythic time and no longer be incarcerated in the doomed prison of historical time… (less) a new heaven as an imaginal earth. (Ring, pp 239-240)
Mack bemoaning “mindless corporate acquisitiveness that perpetuates vast differences between rich and poor and contributes to hunger and disease, ethnic-national violence resulting in mass killings, and ecological destruction” sees abductions leading us back to “our spiritual cosmic roots” and returning us to the divine light or “Home”, a place where secrets, jealousy, greed and destruction have no purpose (Mack, pp3-4, 415-16)
The apocalypticism is quite explicit in Ring’s title “The Omega Project”. Omega is Teilhard de Chardin’s name for the End Time – when the perfected human collective will merge with Cosmic Christ. The Omega Point was the ultimate expression of the “noosphere” within which human culture would totally dominate the earth. For Teilhard de Chardin the mass movements of the inter-war years, Fascism and Stalinism, were, for all their “imperfections” (sic!) superior to liberal, individualist society. He shared little of the concerns of the modern New Agers, having no interest in space travel, and no great love for the concerns of modern ecologists. His future was that of H.G. Wells. It is not surprising therefore that despite surrounding his work with an effective moat of incomprehensible and barbarous neologisms he ran foul of the Catholic Church authorities. (40)
Though for most people knowledge of Teilhard’s ideas probably derives from the popularisation in Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End (41) his ideas have clearly caught on as a paradigm of the heady amalgamation of escalator evolution and traditional apocalypticism. The most extreme use of the Omega hypothesis is in Barrow and Tipler’s The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, where, at the end of a massive tome filled with formidable physics and even more formidable mathematics, we find:
At the instant the Omega point is reached life will have gained control of all matter and forces, not only in a single universe, but in all universes where existence is logically possible; life will have spread into all spatial regions in all universes which could possibly exist and will have stored an infinite amount of information, including all bits of knowledge which it is logically possible to know. And this is the end. (42)
Ring, with his constant reference to evolution, and Randles, with her vision of a “stairway to the stars” are expressing what the philosopher Mary Midgeley has described as the Panglossian escalator. (43) This is an idea which originated with Lamarck, that evolution is a sort of cosmic elevator with a purpose. That purpose being the production of human beings, usually white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant males, and then to continue onwards to exalt them to supernatural heights. Indeed it is difficult to resist the notion that Randles’s vision might have been inspired by the cover of the paperback version of Midgeley’s book.
The point Midgeley is actually making is that these ideas, which have no basis in Darwinian biology. have become central in Western culture, probably – though she does not herself draw this inference – because they represent the “biologisation” of early post-millennial doctrines, which became enshrined in 18th-century notions of enlightenment. What separates Ring and Randles from the mainstream is their radically foreshortened timescale for this pseudo-evolutionary process and incorporation of more overtly supernatural elements. Their consummation of history is not in some vast, cosmic future, but in the next decade or next year.
It is this foreshortened timescale which leads to the idea that some particular Omega people are the vanguard of evolution, transforming human consciousness through their own altered states. This is quite simply nonsense; there is no reason to believe that twentieth-century Californians, say, are any more evolved than the artists of Lascaux, to say nothing of the builders of Stonehenge, or Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. The visionary experiences discussed by Ring, though the cultural content changes, occur in all times and places. They may have played a role in the emergence of full human consciousness 50 or 60,000 years ago, but human consciousness in a biological sense has not changed since.
I arranged the quotations from Randles, Ring and Mack in order to demonstrate the progression from Randles’s post-millennialism to Mack’s much more dramatic pre-millennialsim. Ring stands between them; his Omega contains not only elements of “evolutionary” millennialism, but images of a more profound apocalypse: the “imaginal” or spiritual Earth with its vocabulary of the parting of the veil between the living and the dead which is redolent of Victorian Spiritualism. The bodily assumption of the living into the “imaginal” realm is a barely secularised version of the Rapture of the saints.
The appearance of these apocalyptic themes in the fantasies of a wide range of people should not surprise us because this occurs in a culture permeated by apocalyptic imagery. Few works can have had such an impact on Western culture as the Revelations of John. Norman Cohn, who had previously chronicled the power of apocalyptic movements in medieval and early modern Europe (45) has now sought to track down its origins in Zoroastrian dualism, taking the archetypal combat myth by which the tribal chief subdues the monster of chaos and carves habitat out of the wilderness in the time before time, and transforms it into a once and for all defeat of evil and disorder in a time to come. It is the apocalypse which transforms Time’s Cycle into Time’s Arrow – to quote Stephen J. Gould.
Not only does apocalyptic imagery pervade our culture, there has been an astonishing rise in literal apocalypticism in the last twenty-five years. A generation ago belief in “the end of the world” was looked upon as an historical curiosity, (46) today End Times beliefs are stronger than ever.
The rise of apocalyptic belief in contemporary America is chronicled by Paul Boyer who demonstrates the links between Christian fundamentalism, radical right politics and conspiracy theories. All the themes in Brinkley’s End Times vision referred to at the beginning of this section are derived from contemporary fundamentalist writings. Boyer demonstrates how the image of the apocalypse permits the articulation of a powerful critique of capitalism which allows the expression of discontent by the disadvantaged, whilst by proposing fundamental change in a supernatural realm preaches a gospel of helplessness and opposition to all reform.
It seems probable that there are several direct inputs of the Christian fundamentalist apocalypticism described by Boyer into the “New Age”. Remember those NDEs who claimed the world was going to end in 1988? It seems likely that their inspiration was a best-selling book by fundamentalist Edger Whisenart called “88 Reasons Why the Rapture Will Be in 1988″ (Boyer, p. 130) At the same time it seems highly likely that ideas of abductees being beamed out of houses through solid matter derives from pop iconography of the Rapture.
What the material reviewed here has demonstrated is that apocalyptic imagination extends far beyond the mainstream of Christian fundamentalism discussed by Boyer. Barry Brummelt has extended the range of his study of apocalyptic religion beyond the confines of fundamentalism, for example citing Fukuyama’s “End of History” as an example of post-millennialism, but even he ignores the development of such ideas in the New Age movement. Indeed, it seems that the whole New Age field has been excluded from academic debate.
The apocalypse offers simple solutions. It is the catastrophe which will sweep away the oppressors, iron out the complexities, turn the world upside down. The seventies, the decade which saw religious fundamentalism come in from the outermost fringes, was also the decade of the catastrophe film, each disaster being a small apocalypse. Beyond the apocalypse lies communitas, the world of sacred sharing and total community, (examples which come to mind are the Woodstock Festival, the moment the Berlin Wall came down, or the “Velvet Revolution” in Czechoslovakia) which is close to Teilhard de Chardin’s vision of Omega. But any attempt to impose communitas will end in tragedy. (47)
Post-secular ufology appears to part of a widening revolt against the dream of the secular city, predicted by Jerome Clark: “The collective unconscious, too long repressed, will break free, overwhelm the world and usher in a world of madness, superstition and terror… war, anarchy and fascism.” (48)
It is impossible to read those lines today without thinking of Iran and Bosnia, Somalia, the wreckage of the Soviet Union, the rise of the religious right in the US and of nationalism and xenophobia across Europe. And beyond those gross examples we can see many more: the rise in witchcraft accusations, the communitas of the football hooligan, the rise of the passionate violence of the righteous elect (anti-abortionists in the US, animal rights movements in Britain).
One does not have to subscribe to any sort of Jungianism to appreciate Clark’s vision. We could rephrase it to something like “the one-sided economism which only values human beings as consumers and producers will lead to a reaction in which the needs of humans to belong and find meaning in their lives will take extreme forms”.
The abduction myth, with its themes of manipulation, the intermingling of rape and Rapture, the evocation of the naked helplessness of the operating table and loss of autonomy, seems to articulate many of these fears. But whether any of the post-secularist UFO myths can in any way seriously replace the old myths of flag and altar seems doubtful. There are interesting times ahead: we shall be on the watch.
1. Interview with Jenny Cockrell in Fortean Times, 72, pp 36-39
2. Garrett, Eileen. “Advances in the Supernatural“, Paperback Library, 1968
3. Rogo, D. Scott. “The Infinite Boundary“, Aquarian, 1988, pp 117-155,
211-215. See also Prince, Walet F. The Psychic in the House, Boston SPR, 1926 4. Sherrill Mulhern, quoted in Hicks, Robert D. In Pursuit of Satan, Prometheus, 1991
5. Hicks, op. cit. quoting in part paper by Braun and Bennett (eds) “Treatment of MPD”, American psychiatric Press, 1981
6. Feldman, Marc D. and Ford, Charles V. Patient or Pretender, Wiley, 1994, p. 212
7. Ibid., p. 210
8. Ibid., p. 16
9. Wood Robert. The Widow of Borley, Duckworth, 1992
10. Fodor, Nandor. ‘The Bell Witch, in The Story of the Poltergeist Down the Centuries (with Hereward Carrington), Rider, 1953, pp 137-165
11. Fodor, Nandor. On the Trail of the Poltergeist, Citadel, 1958
12. Price Harry. Leaves from a Psychic’s Casebook, Gollancz, 1933, chapters 13 and 14. See also Tabori, Paul. “Companions of the Unseen”, Humphrey, 1968, chapter 7
15. Hopkins, Budd. Intruders, Random House, 1987
16. Feldman and Fort, op. cit., p. 172
17. Schnabel, Jim. “The Munch Bunch”, Fortean Times, 70, pp 23-29
18. Bartholemew, Robert E. “Munch Bunch Revisited”, Fortean Times, 73
19. Fodor, Nandor. Tradition…, op. cit., p. 194
20. Rogerson, Peter. “Taken to the Limits”, Magonia, 23, pp 3-12
21. Sheridan, Geraldine and Kenning, Thomas. Survivors, Pan, 1993
23. Hufford, David. The Terror that comes in the Night, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982
24. Garrett, op. cit., p. 18
25. Garrett, op. cit., pp 25-26
26. For synaesthesia see Richard, E. The Man Who Tasted Shapes, Abacus, 1994.
27. Eliade, Mircea. Images and Shamans, Harvill, 1961, pp 16-18
29. Rogerson, Peter. “Children of Another God”, Magonia, 20, pp 11-14
30. Steiger, Brad. “Gods of Aquarius”, W.H. Allen, 1977, chapter 7
31. Le Poer Trench, Brinsley. “Men Among Mankind”, Spearman, 1962
32. Williamson, George Hunt. “Other Tongues, Other Flesh”, Amherst Press, 1953, chapter 2
33. Menger, Howard. “From Outer Space to You”, Saucerian Books, 1959, quoted in Flammonde, Paris. “The Age of the Flying Saucer”, Hawthorne Books, 1971, pp 99-100
34. Berger, Arthur and Joyce. “Encyclopaedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research”, Paragon House, 1991
36. Kalweit, Edgar. “Shamans, Healers and Medicine Men”, Shambhalla, 1992, chapter 4
37. Wilson, Bryan. “Magic and the Millennium”, Paladin, 1975, pp 292-298
38. Ring, Kenneth. “Heading Toward Omega”, Morrow, 1985, chapter 8
39. Snow, Chet B. “Mass Dreams of the Future”, McGraw-Hill, 1989, as quoted in Baker, Robert. “Hidden Memories”, Prometheus, 1992, pp. 164-167.
40. Teilhard de Chardin. The Phenomenon of Man, Collins, 1959. cf. the entry for him in Gurley, Rosemary. Harper Encyclopaedia of Mystical and Paranormal Experience, Harper, 1991, pp 604-606
41. Clarke, Arthur C. Childhood’s End
42. Barrow, John D. and Tipler, Frank J. The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, Oxford University Press, 1988, pp 676-7
43. Midgeley, Mary. Evolution as a Religion, Methuen, 1985
45. Cohn, Norman. The Pursuit of the Millennium, Pimlico, 1993 (Secker and Warburg, 1957)
46. See, for example, Hunter, Anthony. The Last Days, Blond, 1958
47. For a discussion of liminality, communitas, etc., see Rogerson, Peter. “Taken to the Limits”, Magonia, 23
48. Clark, Jerome and Coleman, Loren. The Unidentified, Warner, 1975, p. 241
BOOKS REVIEWED AND REFERRED TO IN TEXT:
BOYER, Paul. “When Time Shall Be No More: Prophecy belief in modern American culture”, Belknap Press/Harvard University Press, 1992
BOYLAN, Richard J. “Close Extraterrestrial Encounters: Positive experiences with mysterious visitors”, Wild Flower Press, 1994
BRINKLEY, Dannian and PERRY, Paul. “Saved by the Light”, Piatkus, 1994
BRUMMETT, Barry. “Contemporary Apocalyptic Rhetoric”, Praeger, 1991
BUDDEN, Albert. “Allergies and Aliens, the visitation experience: an environmental health issue”, Discovery Times Press, 1994
COCKRELL, Jenny. Yesterday’s Children: The extraordinary search for my past life family”, Piatkus, 1993
COHN, Norman. “Cosmos, Chaos and the World to Come: The ancient roots of apocalyptic faith”, Yale University Press, 1993
DAVIES, Nick. “Murder on Ward Four: The story of Bev Allitt”, Chatto and Windus, 1993
HARPUR, Patrick. “Daimonic Reality: A field guide to the other world”, Viking Arkana, 1994
MACK, John E. “Abduction: Human encounters with aliens”, Simon & Schuster, 1994
RANDLES, Jenny. “Star Children”, Robert Hale, 1994
RING, Kenneth. “The Omega Project: Near death experiences, UFO encounters and mind at large”, William Morrow, 1992
SCHNABEL, Jim. “Dark White: Alien abductions and the UFO obsession”, Hamish Hamilton, 1994
SPENCER, John. “Gifts of the Gods: Are UFOs alien visitors or psychic phenomena?”, Virgin, 1994
SPENCER, John and SPENCER, Ann. “Spirit Within Her: The story of Heather Woods and the stigmata”, Boxtree, 1994