A Fatal Illusion.
Matthew J. Graeber

From Magonia 62, February 1998

In recent times the tragic suicide of 38 American UFO cult members has graphically illustrated the extremes that fixation and identification with alien life forms can have upon certain individuals. For not only did these troubled souls believe that by taking their lives they were also going to rendezvous with an extraterrestrial space ship that was skirting a comet’s tail, but several of them had even shaved their heads and castrated themselves (perhaps in an effort to mimic the purely cerebral, highly spiritual and, presumably, asexual appearance of the space creatures that tthey anticipated meeting).

Other UFO-related cases of unusual human behaviour involve the complete abandonment of highly sensitive listening posts by several US military personnel in Germany, so they might meet with a flying saucer that they believed was coming to Earth to pick them up, as well as the planned radioactive assassination of local government officials in New York State by UFO aficionados who thought that the authorities were covering up information about a saucer that had crashed near Long Island.

Of course, these are extreme examples and it would be totally unfair of me to paint the entire UFO subculture with the same brush. For many saucer buffs are intelligent, hard-working and well-meaning folks and it is, in fact, precisely because of their good intentions and belief in the UFO phenomenon that they can be easily manipulated and exploited by charismatic, unscrupulous and deluded individuals who may be operating within the saucer movement itself.Interestingly, in the early days of UFO charlatanism, the schemes (much like the developing UFO phenomenon) lacked the sophistication of today’s technological-sounding scams, which not only include an array of bogus classified documents, photos, video footage and crashed saucer artifacts, but also the sanction of a growing number of credulous professionals who treat abductees and reportedly help them to deal with the post-traumatic stress and lingering anxiety of repeated experiences with alien beings that had kidnapped and abused them.

All this at the insistence (and, in many instances, the direction) of self-proclaimed UFO abduction experts, who often lack anysort of medical training or certifica-tion in clinical or forensic hypnosis.


The reported transformational effect of the abduction experience is believed to involve a spiritual, philosophical and intellectual heightening of the individual’s self awareness through a continuing process of contact and educational interaction with alien intelligences that have selected the abductees for some specific purpose.

Several experts believe that the purpose of abduction is grounded in the immediate wants and needs of the aliens who are, apparently, attempting to bolster their own faltering genetic pool through a clone-splicing technique that they have perfected in order to thwart their impending extinction.Several other UFO experts feel that the benevolent aliens are concerned about our own planet’s ever-mounting ecological, sociological and political woes; and that they have been visiting this world and covertly contacting some of its inhabitants in preparation for a kind of social reorganisation which will supposedly take place after the Earth goes through a period of dramatic changes (e.g. the result of a global catastrophe such as a nuclear holocaust, a complete ecological melt-down, a world-wide plague, or a bewildering series of natural disasters). In fact, it has even been suggested that the planet itself may be knocked off its axis by a rogue asteroid and entire continents might be swept away – beneath the angriest of seas.

Still other reported after-effects of contacts with the alien Greys, as they are commonly called in UFO circles, are said to include a sense of cosmic consciousness (or, the magnified awareness of one’s oneness with the universe), the occasional spontaneous cure or remission of various physical, immunological, emotional and psychological disorders, as well as the abductees experiencing marked changes in their career choices, personal interests and long-term goals.

But, beyond all of the above, human contact with the aliens has also produced marked alterations in the way the abductee perceives him or herself, even to the point of their experiencing sexual identity difficulties and/or gross distortions of self, which includes the questioning of their even belonging to the human race or feeling any sort of allegiance to it. That the abductees would identify, sympathise and voice open affection for their captors is not an unknown psychological phenomenon. But, that the abductees would so readily cast off their humanity and profess partial (i.e., hybrid) or total kinship with their alien captors does seem to open the door to much deeper contemplation.


The problem, of course, is that few abduction experts have the requisite medical training to fully comprehend the dangers of hypnotically probing the unconscious mind of the individuals they matter of factly call the abductees – a term which automatically confirms as physically real the very confusing experiences which these perplexed individuals have sought out the experts for. But, even worse than that, the term sets them up for additional experiences, simply because it is common knowledge throughout the UFO community that the Greys always come back for the abductees, and their children too! Perhaps it was this expectation and fear that led a woman in the UK to kill her young grandchildren before they would be kidnapped by aliens?

Beyond this, the UFO ‘experts’ lack of perception regarding the marked psychical background of the so-called abduction experience (i.e., its mythopoeic make-up and dream-like contradictory content) means that the experts must keep coming up with new (and often ridiculous) explanations of how and why the aliens might do something that is obviously nonsensical in character (e.g., the little Greys can reportedly levitate at will, lift and carry the much larger and heavier humans that they have captured – yet, they often walk their victims to their waiting space craft and climb stairs into its hatchway, even though they reportedly filtered through the locked doors and brick walls of the abductee’s home only moments before).

Yet another obvious contradiction pops up in the reports when the dematerialising aliens use metallic instruments to perform invasive surgical procedures upon their human captives, especially when they are also alleged to be capable of inducing the abductees’ bodies to dematerialise as well.

Moreover, today’s medical practitioners can routinely perform similar gynaecological procedures to those that the aliens reportedly employ, but without producing the marked fear and pain which so frequently characterise the medical aspects of the abduction experience.


In many instances, man’s encounters with the unknown were believed to be real contacts with gods, spirits, or demons of various description, and often involved the experiencer being whisked off to magical realms beneath the Earth or sea, high upon a mountain, deep within the forest, or in the firmament above.

Today’s abduction reports often feature similar mythological settings in their scenarios (albeit with a technological accent) and we even discover reports of UFO interiors which have earthen floors and shag rug wall-to-wall carpeting (Indeed, dirt floors in a supposedly highly advanced and medically sterile space craft.) In fact, the UFO which reportedly kidnapped Linda Cortile (the central figure in Budd Hopkins’s book Witnessed) was said to have plunged into the Hudson River with all hands on board rather than flitting off into the starry sky with its cargo of human captives. So, the question immediately arises – was the craft a sub-UFO from Earth’s inner space or an ill-fated space craft from outer space?

While it seems perfectly normal for modern man to dismiss the idea that wee folks, fairies, leprechauns, and hobgoblins actually existed and occasionally interfaced with our forbears, a great many people living in very sophisticated societies as little as a century ago absolutely did believe that such tales were true. Indeed, some folks even believe it to this very day. The point is that, in a hundred years or so, it may be that our contemporary beliefs in UFOs and the pint-sized creatures that pilot them will also become a curiously amusing fact, especially when one considers that the UFO legend’s tales are so highly characteristic of our society and our times (i.e., an era in which our own space-conquering aspirations have been projected upon an array of alien intelligences that we assume to be flourishing somewhere in the cosmos – a fact that Dr C.G. Jung pointed out over forty years ago in his landmark book Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies).

In short, we may be lifting our eyes, minds, hopes, and hearts to the skies in search of a super-technological deity instead of the supernatural god that our ancestors worshipped. We may be yearning for an answer to our tiny planet’s ever-mounting problems – fantasising and, in so doing, inventing a new-age panacea (or super-advanced technological response) to the dark side of our own sciences and technologies, and the nuclear/ toxic demons that we have unwit-tingly created and unleashed upon ourselves.

That this panacea should take the form of little creatures with swollen heads that are choc-full of intelligence and good will towards mankind (instead of a host of angels with blaring trumpets bursting through the firmament), informs us that a growing faith in advanced sciences and technology has woven its way into our culture’s unconscious, even to the point that UFOs (i.e., the symbol of the panacea) have been invested with the power of bringing salvation to mankind. A power which they do not possess and in no way deserve.

Man has always feared and revered strange and awesome things that he’s seen in the skies – he had recorded his perceptions upon cave walls, clay tablets, and video camcorders. Perhaps knowing what the signs in the skies actually were never was as important as what the observer believed they were, and the tremendous impact that such beliefs have had upon the human psyche.

Perhaps UFOs have always played a part in the living experience of man. Perhaps they have been called soul-sparks by the ancients and space ships by today’s observers. Perhaps, too, their operators have been known as angels, demons, wee-folks, and Greys. Are these creatures from outer space, inner space, or a space and time existing somewhere in between these divisional concepts? Do they seek to contact us consciously, unconsciously, or on a spiritual level?


Like many great artists, Leonardo Da Vinci was fully aware of the inner mind’s ability to well up images, and we find that even his friend and colleague Piero Di Cosimo commented in his writings on how many wonderful creatures could be found hidden in the stains of masonry work. Of course, we’ve all had some personal childhood experience with seeing various animal shapes in cloud formations; and, if one tries hard enough, quite a few other imaginary things can be spotted lurking in the shadows of leafy trees too.

In the early 1900s, Dr Hermann Rorschach (a Swiss psychiatric pioneer) effectively demonstrated that extraordinarily meaningful material buried deep in an individual’s subconscious could be brought to the surface by having that person attentively mull over a series of ink blots in an effort to describe what they saw in them.

In most instances, just about everyone tends to see the same kind of things in fluffy clouds and Dr Rorschach’s ink-blot plates simply because the general shape of the visually perceived external object that they are gazing at does bear some degree of similarity to a mentally stored image of some other object that they are comparing it to. But, it seems that after one’s initial comparative or reductive processes have been exhausted regarding Rorschach’s ambiguous ink blots, some unusual things start to happen to a person’s perceptive abilities. This also appears to be the case in many UFO observations, and may even play an important role in the close-encounter experiences that occasionally follow them.

As any seasoned field investigator can tell you, quite often the play of reflected sunlight or cloud shadowing upon an otherwise easily discernible abject (such as a commercial airliner’s fuselage) may create false optical cues that can cause a person to misidentify the aircraft and call it a UFO. What’s more, because the startled UFO observer does not have the opportunity to replay the incident and, therefore, cannot possibly verify his or her observation, they may not ever realise that they have mistakenly identified a fixed-wing aircraft for an unidentified flying object.

Interestingly, it seems that even though an individual undergoing Rorschach testing has the opportunity to take a good long look at a particular Rorschach plate, nevertheless the general shape and even the coloration of the ink blot tends to play an important role in the mental formulation of the kind of things that he or she will see in it. This may be a very important factor for UFO researchers to consider because the changing size, shape and coloration of a fleeting UFO or its pulsating lighting may produce (or induce) similar effects upon the experi-encer’s perceptive skills.

Considering the adverse effect that shadow, distance, darkness, and poor weather conditions might have upon an individual’s optical acuity at the time of their sighting – it seems reasonable to suspect that UFO watching, much like ink-blot gazing, primarily involves the observation of a strange object or some pattern of ambiguous lights that are usually seen against the backdrop of a night-time sky.

So, it is not surprising that one’s best attempts to positively identify the object (or the distant lights) are going to become embellished with subjective (apperceptive) phenomena that form around the object, or may tend to fill in the empty space that is situated in between the mysterious points of light – investing them with not only a structural configuration, but also volition and, in some cases, even questionable intent. Naturally, these attributes are projected upon the unknown object by the observer as a result of their emotional and intuitive responses to the situational and confrontational character of their UFO encounter; and, once that happens, their UFO experience broadens and deepens, taking on a subjective tone which may also in-clude the active influence of very primitive introjective processes (i.e., assuming that the object is intelligently guided or that the UFO operators have specifically selected the observer for some reason).

All of these factors must be seriously considered by the objective UFO researcher simply because one cannot be certain which percentage of UFO reports are generated by the observation of space craft from another world (or holographic imagery that is transmitted by an alien civilisation), as opposed to those that may have their origin in the depths of man’s inner space – that is, his unconscious mind. And, of course, there is also the distinct possibility that the UFO experience is both objective and subjective in nature, and that separation of the two is simply beyond our investigative skills.

This appears to be the case where a physically real airborne object (be it a misidentification of some sort, or a real UFO) is observed and then the observer projects his or her own psychical contents upon it – very much like what happens during Rorschach testing experiences.

In his landmark psychological exploration of the UFO phenomenon, Dr C.G. Jung identified the basic discoidal (or round) UFO configuration as being similar to that of a meditative mantra and several other symbolic manifestations of the self which, as we know from our studies of depth psychology, is a very important archetype that tends to spontaneously appear to individuals when there is a profound emotional need present in their lives, or when they are caught up in a seemingly hopeless or overwhelming situation. Both of these prerequisites seem to fit the above mentioned UFO experience model which speculatively describes the UFO encounter as being a kind of display or the symbolic equivalent of some internal conflict that is unconsciously troubling but, nevertheless, affecting the observers at the time of their UFO encounter.

I am not alone with this estimate of the UFO situation, for several other researchers have come to similar conclusions regarding a display factor in UFO events and, quite recently, Dr R. Leo Sprinkle (noted psychologist/ufologist of Laramie, Wyoming) has presented a paper on the psychical analysis of UFO experiences which echoes Dr C. G. Jung’s assertion that the UFO may be (at least in part) a symbolic representation of the observer’s self. But these guestimates are based upon present-day UFO reports and the investigative data that today’s researchers are gathering. It would also bee interesting to attempt to determine what impact the presence of such ambiguous aerial objects may have had upon our forebears.



Curiously, UFO-like shapes and forms have been discovered amidst the human and animal forms depicted in Palaeolithic and Neolithic cave art which is generally thought to have been created during the time when man’s consciousness was first developing (i.e., roughly one million years ago). These, too, are believed to have been produced while early man was involved with welling up mentally stored images of the many animals that he hunted and feared. But, unlike the beautiful deer, bison and horses that appear to have been repeatedly drawn in the same area of the caves and were apparently used for some kind of hunting magic ritual, these unusual circles, braces and chevrons were not drawn in layers and are believed by many experts to have had an independent mythology connected to them. Interestingly,squares, chevrons, and a series of circles and dots commonly called recall-benders frequently pop up in Rorschach testing too.

Although there may be a number of possible explanations for the existence of the UFO-like cave drawings, two seem to be the most plausible. Either the cave man recorded his real-world encounter with such objects, or he dreamed of such forms and the dreams had such a profound impact on him in the waking state that he wanted to share his experience with his contemporaries.

In either case, it appears that these UFO-like shapes were considered important enough to merit separate space upon the cave walls, for they are not pitted and marred like the animal depictions which have obviously been subjected to many missile impacts that probably occurred during a hunting magic ritual. In other words, the UFO-like drawings have been afforded a separate space within the caves, and they probably had an entirely separate mythology associated with them.

The experts on cave art seem to be somewhat perplexed by these drawings and, of course, opinions vary quite a bit regarding their possible meaning. The so-called brackets are often thought to be a stylised version of the female form about to receive male sexuality, while some experts feel that the brackets may be related to the sexual aggression of the cave man himself.

One thing seems certain. These forms are totally unlike anything that is thought to have existed in the cave man’s natural environment. They appear to be symmetrical, possibly aerodynamic in design, and they also have a modern-day technological look about them. While they may not actually be depictions of UFOs, one must admit that they certainly do look a great deal like sketches that today’s observers produce regarding their en
counters with alien space vehicles.

Dare we ponder the notion that contact with alien intelligences could be channelled through the vast reaches of man’s inner space (i.e., his unconscious mind) and that such contacts may have been going on since mankind’s conscious dawning? Dare we believe that human inner space is just as vast, wondrous and awesome as outer space and that we have barely touched the surface of the mysteries and wonders that lie within its depths? Indeed, depths from which the UFOs themselves may hail?

No matter how far we reach out amongst the stars, we must always bear in mind that in our outreaching lies a human motive, and that the further we reach the deeper the want, the need, the fear, or the desire is to touch the face of the unknown.

As we are about to enter the 21st century, we might do well to note that despite our new sciences and great technological advance
ments we are still linked to our distant ancestors and carry the essence of their being within us. Have we become so estranged from this primal fabric that signals from it are thought to be attempted communications from an alien world? What is the signal in the noise of UFO reports? And, even more importantly, why is it being picked up by so many people at this particular point in human history?


Although Hermann Rorschach’s work with the phenomenon of human perception (its alteration or distortion) is generally applied to the diagnosis of pathology, some experts feel that it might be an error to assume that it is not also a viable method for studying the workings of perceptual phenomena in normals too. Dynamic UFO Displays may be one of many such phenomena, for the sudden and oft-times riveting perception of a Dynamic Display or close encounter may trigger a projection function that displaces some of the excess psychical energy (libido) assigned to an internal conflict that may be adversely affecting an individual. Thus, the Dynamic Display variety of UFO experience may bethought of as a self-regulating function of the psyche which is induced into activity by intrusive sensory stimulation (i.e., the impact of encountering a UFO) as opposed to the tranquil meditative process of Rorschach plate scrutiny.

Even in cases where the UFO investigator is completely unable to resolve the UFO report as a misidentification of a conventional airborne object (or perhaps an atmospheric anomaly of some kind), he or she is still left with the opportunity to examine the observer’s recollection of what the unidentified flying object looked like, how it appeared to operate and, of course, how it may have interacted with them.

This is most valuable information because, if we are correct about the UFO’s image and its interactive performance being dramatic representations of the observer’s self condition , we can learn something about the UFO experience’s meaningfulness in regard to the observer’s wants, needs, fears and expectations, along with something about the general make up of their defensive shielding. Indeed, we might consider a Dynamic UFO Display as a form of self-perception and communication that is triggered by the UFO’s presence in our skies – and even more importantly – in ouy lives.


In order to interpret the symbolic materials that well up during the subject’s observation and interaction with the UFO, the investigator must attempt to determine what the UFO (as an image) may actually represent on the one hand (e.g., a misi-dentification of some physical and external airborne object/s, or perhaps a totally unknown anomaly) and how that object’s image and behaviour might be symbolically linked to the psychology of the observer/s on the other hand. It is also apparent that what is observed during a UFO experience and how it is emotionally perceived and responded to is not solely determined by the observer’s conscious estimation of his or her UFO encounter, but also by the active influence of a mixed bag of intrapsychical forces that come into play during the event.

Since we suspect that the primary sensory stimulation (which is visual in most UFO cases) and the observer’s logical estimation of the experience concerning the size, shape, colouring and nearness of the object, is also backed up by emotional, intuitive and instinctual inputs that quickly flow across intrapsychic structures during the event, the UFO researcher should be on the look out for any bits and pieces or archetypal and/or instinctual debris that may be clinging to the observer’s account of their encounter with an unidentified flying object or its occupants.

In regard to this process, it seems that the altered or distorted form of perception which is instigated into activity by the ambiguity of the ink-blot plates in the case of Rorschach testing, and the often-times equally ambiguous, though obviously much more shocking, process of UFO watching primarily involves the subject’s complete fixation with the object, and a general falling away (or perhaps the total absorption) of their reality testing during the experience (e.g., Well, it was quite dark that night and at first I thought it was an aeroplane, or maybe a helicopter … but, then, as it hovered just above my head, I slowly realised that it was something unlike I’d ever seen before ).

Dynamic UFO Display case studies graphically illustrate that UFO researchers do have the ability to identify the symbolic contents in UFO reports which relate to both the observer’s personal life conflicts and even those that may be considered to be far more rudimentary (or archetypal) in character.


If certain visually perceived imagery such as that found in Rorschach’s plates and some UFO configurations do have the ability to deeply penetrate the human psyche and induce the displacement of archetypal symbols, subconscious contents, and psychic energy, we are obliged to further examine this remarkable phenomenon in an attempt to determine if there may be some therapeutic application for such a process.

Perhaps the cinematic replication (i.e., animation or computer animation) of UFO-like imagery which may be custom-designed from the information gathered by the therapist during counselling sessions with his or her patients might be as effective a tool as the purely mentally generated images that guided imagery practitioners presently attempt to direct at an array of physical, emotional and immunological disorders. Perhaps the sudden impact on perceiving a Dynamic UFO Display may enhance or surpass the effectiveness of the passive guided imagery techniques because of its highly confrontational character and deeply penetrating impact on the observer(s).

Perhaps, too, this same sort of psychical shock was the driving force that first nudged early man to conceive of things that did not yet exist, but surely would some day, simply because he could create them.


The Myth of the Authorised Myth.
Hilary Evans

From Magonia 16, July 1984

By ‘authorised myth’ we understand a belief or set of beliefs which, despite inadequate scientific evidence for its existence, obtains the sanction of widespread acceptance within the prevailing culture. In unsophisticated Catholic communities it may be the prospect of a visit from the Virgin Mary, for the tribespeople of New Guinea an aeroplane bringing cargo, for an ascetic saint in the desert a tempting demon; and so forth.

The most widely accepted of contemporary myths – as evidence such reliable indicators of prevailing cultural beliefs as TV commercials – is the possibility of extraterrestrial intervention on Earth. This comes in two forms. The simple form, authorised by our own space ventures, envisages surveillance and even visits by extraterrestrial spacecraft. The more elaborate form, authorised by the failure of orthodox religion to provide a convincing basis for belief, envisages direct contact with cosmic guardians.

The role of the authorised myth in ufology

It was Michel Monnerie who explicitly specified the authorised myth as a rational explanation for irrational UFO repurts. He proposed that the sighting of an inexplicable object induces the witness, conditioned by the prevailing myth, to exclaim Mon Dieu, perhaps it’s one of those UFO things? and this triggers a waking dream in which his mind constructs a fantasy in which the external sensory stimulus is modified in accordance with the fashionable myth.

Monnerie’s proposals came at a time when some such hypothesis was needed. A few diehards continued to see UFO sightings as a wholly objective phenomenon – subject to misinterpretation, no doubt, but not to unconscious mental modification. But a growing number of ufologists were ready to accept that the mind of the witness plays a more creative role in the sighting experience, and were consequently disposed to entertain a hypothesis which linked an objective stimulus to a subjective psychological process. Monnerie offered just such a hypothesis.

Force est de conclure,” he said, “que le fond émane des themes universels, des archétypes fondamentaux d I’humanité, tandis que la fame est donnée par les acquis inconscients de chacun des sujets, l’ensemble se developpant dans le mythe modern, credible, acceptable.” [Naufrage, 215] (We must conclude that the basis of the sighting derives from the universal themes, the fundamental archetypes of mankind, while the form is supplied by the contents of the subject’s unconscious, the two forming an ensemble which develops within the parameters of the modern myth, credible and acceptable.)

How tempting to nod our heads and murmur, But of course: We know all about archetypes, they have all the blessing of holy writ. We know too about private fantasy and how it can substitute for reality. These are known psychological concepts, it is reasonable to find them operating in the UFO context. All we have to do is say Oui, M. Monnerie, to as raison…

And there is a wonderful bonus. Subscribe to my hypothesis, says the tempter, and you can give up ufology with a clear conscience and go back to being a normal person. For says he, “il devient parfaitment clair qu’on ne peut, a partir d’une construction illusoire de l’esprit, batir use science, l’ufologie, digne de ce nom:’ [Naufrage, 56] (It’s obvious that a science of ufology worthy of the name cannot be built on a foundation of mental illusions)

I shall resist the temptation to argue Monnerie’s logic, beyond questioning his assertion that fantasy is not suscepible to scientific analysis. What concerns us is whether his neat package is really valid?

According to him, a UFO report comprises two elements. First, the basic form, dictated by an archetype of some description. This is no place to discuss the whole notion of archetypes, so I will simply state my opinion that Jung’s concept, however stimulating, has in practical terms only very limited application. True, many UFO sightings can be matched with his archetypes – spheres, eggs, discs, etc. But not every sphere-shaped object is to be interpreted as an archetype: a football is round for physical, not metaphysical, reasons, because it is the ideal shape for kicking and rolling, not because it echos something deep within our psyches.

Well, however he establishes its basic form, the UFO witness – according to Monnerie – proceeds to modify it according to the contents of his unconscious mind. It could well be so. But he them goes on to say that these modifications are dictated by the modern myth, credible and acceptable.

Well now, are they?If a myth is to have a meaning, it must have coherence. If this myth of extraterrestrial spacecraft is to mean anything, then the objects reported should be more or less like what people accept extraterrestrial spacecraft to look like. But if there is one aspect of ufology more than another which drives us all to despair, it is the reluctance of one UFO to resemble another, and for more than a handful to look anything like what we would expect an extraterrestrial spacecraft to look like.

True, the reality – if there is any – is liable to transcend our expectations; but it is with those expectations that Monnerie’s myth is concerned. And the fact is that for every logically shaped UFO there is one that is a shapeless jelly, or a Christmas tree, or a wineglass, or a transparent box like a TV screen – you name it, somebody’s seen it.

The shapeless jelly may be, indeed, what an extraterrestrial spacecraft looks like; it may be what the extraterrestrials choose for us to see; or it may derive from deep down in the witness’s unconscious. But neither way, I submit, does it derive from any authorised myth.To explain why a witness sees a strange object and immediately starts thinking in terms of UFOs, the concept of the authorised myth may be useful. But when it comes to understanding why the sighting experience took the form it does, the concept is quite inadequate, and we must look elsewhere.


MONNERIE, Michel. Et si les OVNIs n’existaient pas?, Les Humanoides Associes, Paris 1977.
MONNERIE, Michel. Le naufrage des Extra-terrestres, Nouvelles Editions rationalistes, Paris 1979.

Magnetism and its Influence on Humans
Paul Tinman

From Magonia 26, June 1987


We are all magnetic fish in a magnetic sea; we move through and partake of constantly changing magnetic currents and breezes which are not only geological in origin, but geophysical, solar and interplanetary as well. Like all creatures on earth, we’ve evolved for millions of years in this magnetic environment. Our bodies are riddled with magnetically sensitive molecules, tuned to minute changes in this sea, just as fish are tuned to minute changes in currents.

Medicine recognises the crucial importance of some of these – the K+ and Na+ ions in the blood, for example, the so-called electrolytes. Minute variations in these can result in bodily functions going dangerously wrong and brain functions being impaired. And it doesn’t take much genius to see that such particles (which can be viewed as standing waveforms anyway) may be disturbed by fluctuations in the magnetic climate. Indeed, chemical changes in the blood have been shown to vary under magnetic influence; for example the famous albumin flocculation experiments of Professor Takata. Blood cells, which have a high iron content, can also be made to rotate by application of magnetic fields.

Experimental work showing the sensitivity of living creatures to magnetism has been well documented, from Frank Brown and his fiddler crabs back in the ’40s right up to the recent work of Dr. Barker at Manchester University, showing that humans use geomagnetism for direction finding (seen recently on BBC’s Horizon programme). Professor Rocard at the Ecole Normale in Paris showed that humans can detect magnetic changes down to the order of 10-1 gauss – almost below the recordable limit. You could fill pages with this sort of evidence.

The result of magnetic disturbance can be chemical disruption of brain functions – anything from moodiness and depression to seizures (epilepsy?) or hallucinations. Statistics of suicides and road accidents apparently rise during periods of sunspot activity, which cause geomagnetic disturbances.
I’m saying two things here: first, that magnetic fluctuations are not solely geological in origin; second, that humans are far more sensitive to them than is generally accepted. Animals too, which vacate an area pretty sharpish when earthquakes are imminent. Devereux mentions that case of Kasper Hauser, the Nuremburg foundling who could distinguish blindfolded between different metals by passing his hand over them. Like all our faculties, this would be sharpened by use, blunted by neglect, but it would remain latent, whatever, and be more pronounced in some individuals.

So it’s not too big a jump to say that magnetic disturbance, through electromagnetic change, might cause certain sensitive individuals the same sort of visions as those caused under different circumstances by LSD or extreme asceticism. Some people, in proximity to magnetic disturbance might have visions of UFOs, the Virgin Mary or MIBs. There is a well-known psychological mechanism by which such a subject will use a physical object – a ball of light, maybe – as a cue, and then the unconscious takes over, projecting its drama onto reality. In this respect the similarity to the hypnotic state seems marked, down to the importance of such a cue or trigger.

Paul Devereux objects that this causes problems if the physical trigger then behaves in a manner inconsistent with the ‘vision’. It doesn’t, because the subject simply disregards it. The trigger events merely serves to disrupt the consciousness and set the inner drama in motion. Again, such behaviour can be observed in hypnotic subjects. You can even set such dramas in motion post-hypnotically in some subjects, merely on the appearance of a predetermined cue. The subject will thereupon suddenly diverge from reality, perceiving and acting according to a pre-set and totally unconscious script. The subject’s memory of what they saw and did during this period will afterwards differ remarkably from that of other witnesses.

So, while having a lot of respect for Paul Devereux’s opinions, I don’t see that the phenomenon necessarily involves any externalization of the imagery onto ionized plasmas or such. It’s east to accept that idea in the case of simple manifestations like Paul’s original ‘universal man’ vision, but problems arise applying it to the many extremely complicated UFO abduction dramas, with their time-loss and other components.

Of course, the objection will be that many such cases involve multiple witnesses who all share essentially the same experience. So if the whole thing is just a magnetic barn dance in the brain, how does more than one individual see it?

The answer to that may have something to do with the relationships between the people involved, and with the fact that the same magnetic disturbance will presumably affect them all: they will all be immersed in the same field at the time of the experience. In several of the more complex multi-subject contact/abduction dramas (the Hills , Tujunga Canyon, etc.) it appears that one individual is dominant or seems to be the catalyst for the events experiened. Such individuals are also often in various stages of inner crisis, to which the events can be seen to relate (see John Rimmer’s The Evidence for Alien Abductions).

In this regard, it may be fruitful for investigators to ask: a) is hypnotism easier within a magnetic field, and b) are telepathy, telekinesis, etc. easier within a magnetic field? One can think of reasons why this may be so: fluctuations at one point in a field will resonate throughout the field, and mental activity is basically electrical fluctuation. measurable by EEG.

There may be a purely biological function to all this. At the basic level, simply a warning of impending disaster registered by our unconscious magnetic sense and passed to the waking mind via some scary image. At a higher level, a dramatization of personal, cultural or racial problems in which the individual is just a medium. The ways of the brain are strange and complicated, and there won’t be a straightforward answer, I’m sure. But maybe we’d do well to look again a the unfashionable ideas of Julian Jaynes in this context. Maybe the old bicameral mind wasn’t so daft after all!

None of this pretends to be any sort of Theory I’m just putting two-pennorth in, and it all stands up to be knocked down. My main point is that the extent and nature of our susceptibility to geomagnetic influences is greatly underestimated, despite ample evidence, and that proper research in this area will in the future open all sorts of doors on our understanding of ourselves and our world.

One thing I’m sure we’ll all agree on – we are more than we think we are!


Psychological Theories: A Reply to Rogerson.
Carl Grove

In a recent article in this journal, Rogerson (1) reviewed a critique of psychological theories of UFOs in which I had suggested that, as a rule, such types of explanation were inadequate (2,3,4). He concluded that the critique contained “a number of unfounded statements and over-generalisations and thus has not established its case”.

It seems to me that Rogerson has somewhere lost sight of the central point of the critiques which was finding an answer to the question: can conventional psychological facts and theories be used to explain UFO phenomena? I stress conventional. because Rogerson is perfectly willing to make use of ‘paranormal’ concepts within a general explanatory framework and, despite his assertions to the contrary, such ideas do not have “a wide measure of acceptance in psychological circles”. Nor– as I hope to show — is their introduction into UFO debates to be encouraged, since they carry with them multiple problems of methodology and metatheory which Rogerson neglects even to mention, although he is quick to point out similar defects in my own logic.

In many single-witness cases of alleged UFO sightings it may be logically impossible to rule out the hypothesis of ‘conventional’ hallucination (i.e., hallucination due to drug intake, sensory restriction, psychosis, etc.), no matter how implausible such an interpretation may appear on the surface. In regard to the special hypothesis of ‘normal’ hallucination, therefore, single-witness cases unaccompanied by information about the witness or physical evidence of some sort remain a matter of controversy. Certain statistical considerations indirectly counter this proposition (5), but empirical evidence, for or against, is notable for its absence. Much of the relevant argument can be found in Hall (6,7), Grinspoon and Persky Johnson (9) and the various papers of Schwarz and others.

When it comes to multiple-witness cases the theory of simple hallucination becomes irrelevant, because shared hallucinations are unrecognised by psychology. This has nothing to do with the question of whether such events have ever occurred of course, nor does it throw much light upon problems concerning the validity of using such a concept as an explanation.If we rule out the hoax theory at the outset — a convenience which might find some objections, inasmuch as it is the only explanation capable of relating all UFO phenomena — we are left in a situation in which as Rogerson argues, we shall have to throw down at least some of our generally-accepted ideas about the structure of the universe. The question being, which?

There are two major alternatives: reports of UFOs can be attributed to:
1, extramundane intelligence, which includes the ETH as well as some of the more exotic possibilities, or

2, some sort of parapsychological interaction.

Rogerson supports the second alternative. In deciding between them, it should be kept in mind that the criteria by which we judge theories of UFOs must be identical to those employed in the evaluation of less dramatic notions. The most important of these are the requirements that theories should be based upon the minimum number possible of inferred or unobservable concepts; and that they they should be advanced in sufficient detail as to be capable of generating testable predictions preferably quantitative in form. Theories which fail to measure up to those yardsticks are not satisfactory.

In fact, neither of the two alternatives defined above are truly satisfactory, on these terms. Both make assumptions hard to verify outside of the UFO evidence; neither make precise predictions. It is a poor choice, in regard to methodology. It is true that whereas extramundane intelligence is supported by no hard evidence, astronomical or otherwise, there is a corpus of recognised, if controversial evidence relating to ‘paranormal’ phenomena. On the other hand, it would probably be true to say that the scientific community views the concept of extraterrestrial life with less dismay than it experiences when the concepts of ESP or psi are touched upon. It is not hard to see why. Paranormal concepts reflect a fundamental break with most of our models of reality; even in the absence of direct observation it is reasonable to posit the existence of extraterrestrial life via a process of simple extrapolation. All we can conclude here is that both possibilities are equally ridiculous.The main weakness of the ESP approach lies in its total inadequacy as a concept. It is in no sense a unitary concept –rather,
it is a rough way of classifying a heterogeneous moss of puzzling events. ‘Paranormal’ merely means — so far as I can see — anything which present-day science cannot explain. Imagine what this same concept would represent to an ancient Greek, to a medieval monk, an Elizabethan sailor;, just about anything. It is not an explanation but a description; and if science ca. 1972, cannot explain UFO phenomena, there should be no argument against classifying UFOs as paranormal. But isn’t that just playing with words? Does it help us to understand anything?

Even the most naive form of the extraterrestrial hypothesis is is more constrained, better defined. We may dismiss the logic employed by Smiley (10) in ‘disproving’ that UFOs come from Mars but at least here is an example of the scientific method: a formal statement of basic assumptions, the production of specific (even quantifiable) predictions and he testing of those predictions. The Mars Cycle observed in some UFO data could clearly provide some support for an extramundane hypothesis, if we wore to relax the rather puritan assumptions made by Smiley in regard to the capabilities of possible alien technologies. Rogerson’s answer is that people may tend to have more hallucinations when we are closer to Mars. An argument that I don’t accept.

This example indeed highlights the weakness of the parapsychological approach. Rogerson makes no attempt to describe the mechanisms involved in the transmission of an hallucinatory UFO experience from one person to another. The vagueness which characterises ESP-type concepts relieves him of the need to do so. Thus the following questions, and many others remain unanswered:

1. If a single ‘experience’ is shared by several persons why do UFO events typically obey the laws of perspective? Why don’t UFO witnesses report totally identical stimuli as would TV viewers?

2. Admitting that question 1 raises a valid point, what mechanism is there inside the human information processing system capable of calculating the perceptual effects of change-of-perspective for each of a number of individual and instantaneously transmitting the appropriate image

3. If question 2 is left unanswered would this not logically force the parapsychologist to accepts the possibility of intervention by a superior, nonhuman intelligence?

4. It is easy to imagine visual images being ‘injected’ into the witnesses’ perceptual systems just as a signal enters a TV set and produces an image on the screen. but human sensory processes in general, and the visual system in particular, are remarkably complex. We have only a very vague idea about how they work. To To put it crudely: if we can’t explain how normal perception operates, what chance is there for a model of some even more exotic process?

None of this argument should be thought of as disproving or dismissing the parapsychological theory. Rather, the aim is to demonstrate the dangers inherent in a chain of reasoning which runs: paranormal phenomena cannot be explained, therefore any phenomena which cannot be explained are paranormal, therefore UFO phenomena can be explained paranormally. The weakness of this logic is glaringly obvious.

5. Is there any puzzling or inexplicable event or set of events which a ‘paranormal’ theory could not explain?

My personal feeling is that if the extramundane theory is weak (in methodological sense), the parapsychological theory is weaker still. It may not be very enlightening to claim that “people see UFOs”; but is our curiosity any more satisfied by the assertion, “people parapsychologically transmit UFO experiences to each other”?

Rogerson’s closing argument is that contemporary psychology is in a primitive state, therefore novel theories which attack psychological laws are in some way more satisfactory than are theories, such as the ETH, the acceptance of which would imply the violation of known physical laws. The argument contains one or two flaws, depending on one’s philosophy: monists would maintain that all psychological laws are ultimately physical, anyway; less committed thinkers night point out that telepathy and clairvoyance, for example, provide no less profound a challenge to recognised physical concepts than does any physical UFO.

In sum, I think that the parapsychological theory as statedby Rogerson is still not powerful enough to explain UFOs, primarily because of its lack of clear definition and the absence of any specified means of disproving it. But the extramundane theory is, so far, insufficiently developed, although it is a somewhat better choice than the more specific extraterrestrial model. The best thing to do would be to adopt a less contentious inductive approach, but UFO researchers, unable or unwilling to resist the lure of speculation, rarely accept this alternative. Proponents of rival theories blandly neglect inconvenient data. Thus Rogerson would be happy to explain away reports of physical traces and radar sightings; Sharp (11) is careful to dismiss reports involving paranormal or religious manifestations; and Menzel, Condon, et al. dismiss the whole lot. In all cases there are some perfectly rational reasons for rejection; the mistake made lies not in rejection but selection. As Fort pointed out on many occasions, if you reject what you can’t explain’ you should be able to explain everything, It merely depends what you mean by ‘everything’.

Some progress be made if ufologists seek to maintain a theoretically neutral position recognising that UFO reports such as the cases of Rita,Malley, ‘Dr X’, the Welsh wave of 1905, frequently involve phenomena which, at face value lie beyond most of our current physical and psychological concepts. A search for patterns which involved the systematic neglect of these phenomena would violate most of the requirements of statistical sampling. If the final answer is a completely novel concept, the deductive approach would necessarily fail.



  1. GROVE, C. UFOs: Psychological Theories and their Defects. BUFORA Journal 1970, 2, (11), 3-5.
  2. GROVE, C. Hoax and Hallucination: The Evidence. BUFORA Journal, 1970, 2, (12) 3-5.
  3. GROVE, C. Jung and the UFOs. BUFORA Journal, 1970, 3, (2), 3-5.
  4. GROVE, C. A Note on Black’s Hypnotic Theory of UFO Generation. In press.
  5. HILL, R.L. Prepared statement. Symposium on UFOs: Hearings before the Committee on Science and Astronautics, U.S. House of Representatives, 90th Congress, 2nd Session. Washington: USGPO, 1968.
  6. HALL, R.L. Sociological perspectives on UFO reports. Presented at the AAAS Symposium on UFOs, December, 1969. In press.
  7. GRINSPOON, L & PERSKY, A.D. Some psychiatric considerations about reports of unidentified flying objects. Presented at the AAAS Symposium on UFOs, December, 1969. In press.
  8. JOHNSON, D.M. The ‘phantom anaesthetist’ of Mattoon: A field study of mass hysteria. Journal of Abnormormal Social Psychology, 1945, 40, 175-186.
  9.  SMILEY , C.H. Arriving from Mars by UFO? Project Blue Book, 1960. Washington: SAFOI, 1968.
  10.  SHARP, A.W. The New Ufology – a critique. MUFOB, 1971, 4, 55-72.


Psychological Theories of UFOs
Peter Rogerson

Originally published in Merseyside UFO Bulletin,
volume 4, number 4, September/October 1971

During the past 2-3 years there has been a growing interest in, and discussion of, possible psychological interpretations of UFO phenomena, this being provoked by the growing ‘strangeness’ of the ever accumulating body of evidence. It is only natural that this departure should have provoked strong criticism, not to say scepticism in some quarters.

The most serious critique of psychological theories advanced to date is the series of three articles by Carl Grove in BUFORA Journal: ‘Psychological Theories and their Defects’, (hereafter PT) (1); ‘Hoax and Hallucination – the Evidence’, (HH) (2); and ‘Jung and the UFOs’, (JU) (3). In these articles Grove raises a number of specific criticisms of the psychological theories that have been advanced to date, and also any that May be advanced in the future. It is hoped in this article to answer each point specifically.

Grove is quite right in rejecting pseudo-psychological hypotheses which regard UFO phenomena as journalistic sensations, and percipients as alcoholics. Such ideas are not however those that serious proponents of psychological theories are talking about. We can limit discussion in the main to the possibility of hallucination as a cause of UFO experiences. This can be done under two heads:

  • (a) Can hallucination take place under the conditions under which UFO percipience allegedly takes place, and can psychologically normal people be hallucinated?
  • (b) Is there anything in the accounts of UFO percipience that would automatically eliminate hallucination?

With regard to (a) Grove tends to suggest the answer is ’no’, on the grounds that hallucinations are uncommon, and occur in definite psychological states – sensory restriction, sleep deprivation, psychotic and neurophysiological abnormality, drug intake and deep hypnotic trance. (PT) These views are only partly correct. In fact hallucination of a simple and undramatic kind probably occurs at least once in everyone’s lifetime, With some people hallucinations may occur several times and with a small proportion of the population hallucinations are more or less frequent – ostensible clairvoyants and trance mediums, for example, Here, of course, we are approaching the boundaries of psychosis. The evidence collected by psychologists suggests that about 15% of the population tend to be hallucinators. It would be interesting to know if high hallucinator subjects are also deep trance hypnotics.

The hallucinations that ‘normal’ people experience tend to be fleeting affairs, they do not have the complexity and behavioural changes that are associated with psychotic conditions.  The closest comparison between UFO percipience and acknowledged hallucinations occurs in the field of apparitions which are generally reported by psycholocically ‘normal’ people in the course of everyday activity. The evidence collected by parapsychologists discounts the view that hallucinations are confined to extreme psychological conditions. But even if this were not the case, the criteria suggested by Grove are capable of a far more liberal interpretation than may be envisaged at first glance. Sensory restriction hallucinations are by no means confined to ‘black room’ restriction (such as that used in astronaut training) though hallucinations in total sensory restriction are  extremely vivid and complex. Motorists driving through monotonous scenery or at night often experience very vivid hallucinations; indeed they may enter completely trance-like states, a fact which is recognised as a significant cause of major accidents. Such a condition, especially in a deep trance subject, may be the cause of many of the dramatic UFO reports involving night drivers.

Hallucinations can be produced by a variety of chemical substances. Carbon monoxide in trace amounts, if inhaled over a long period can produce hallucinations and psychotic reactions; reduction in oxygen supply can produce similar results. It is also true that no definite opinion on the cause of schizophrenia exists. There seems to be as much evidence that it is caused by chemical changes in the body as by emotional causes. It may thus be that pollution is as significant a cause of the rapid growth of mental illness as is the ‘pace of modern living’. It may be that some flaps in agricultural areas are the results of some very unpleasant side effects of modern insect sprays.

There can be little doubt that the ‘silent contactees’ described by Keel and others are psychotic subjects. The symptoms described are classic symptoms of paranoid schizophrenia. Keel has claimed that the majority of Type I percipients he has interviewed are suffering from these after effects. If this claim can be substantiated it would indicate that either the percipients have experienced a traumatic event which has caused a psychotic reaction, or that Type I percipience may be a preliminary sign of psychosis. Therefore we would be justified in concluding that hallucination can take place under conditions described by UFO percipients.

Specific Objections to the Psychological Hypothesis

  • That collective percipience rules out hallucination as collective hallucination is impossible (PT).

While the evidence for mass hallucination is not conclusive, it is by no means negligible. The Fatima case is a striking example. It would be almost impossible to envisage any objective thing which would be visible to only a certain number of a contiguous group. Cases of collectively perceived apparitions are by no means a complete rarity. Tyrrell (4) counted 130 such cases and gave a number of examples. He and most other parapsychologists have regarded such cases as hallucinations generated by parapsychological interaction. Alternatives to such a viewpoint have never had much success, and were often little more than meaningless phrase. The notion of parapsychological interaction has a wide measure of acceptance in psychological circles, and has far more evidential blacking than the claims of ETH ufology.

  • That physical traces, photos radar tracks etc., rule out hallucinations (PT, HH).

Despite Groves’ statement that such traces occur in a significant number of cases, they are in fact quite rare. Alan Sharp has given convincing alternative explanations for several crater reports. In view of this, ground effects, unaccompanied by visual reports can be automatically discarded. In the case of visual/ground effect reports a general sequence takes place. The witness ostensibly perceives an object; later he finds curious marks at the spot. It is a natural reaction to suggest that the ‘object’ caused the marks, but there is often no convincing evidence for this. It is equally likely that the ground markings were already there, subconsciously noted, and later woven into a hallucinatory experience.

Of the 2000 plus photographs probably loss than twenty are of any interest at all. ‘Totally convincing’ UFO photographs have been convincingly explained as fakes, at such a rate as to make us wonder if any photographs are of evidential value. Even the McMinnville photographs have had serious doubts cast on their authenticity. My only conclusion is that unless photographs are taken under the most stringent and well documented conditions, such as have not, to my knowledge, yet been met such evidence can not be regarded as worthy of serious consideration. Radar tracks are of a similar nature, they are few in number, but puzzling. There seems little reason to believe that they must represent the same phenomenon as say, landings. It does not seem totally unreasonable to suggest that curious radar tracks may themselves be the result of hallucination.

  • That UFO reports predominate in rural areas, whereas it would be expected that psychological stimuli would predominate in urban areas (HH).

Grove’s prediction is quite incorrect. Hallucinatory conditions are more likely in relaxed rural atmospheres, where there is less sensory stimulation, leading to dreamlike states, than in noisy urban conditions. In this respect the UFO phenomenon is entirely consistent with the hallucination hypothesis.

  • That periodicity, especially the Mars synodic period cycle, is incompatible with the hallucination hypothesis (HH)

D. Knight (5) has shown that Fortean phenomena show a relationship with the Mars cycle. A variety of natural phenomena seem to show similar cyclical variations. Perhaps minute changes in the earth’s electromagnetic field can catalyse hallucinations in certain people. As for other statistical evidence, this writer is not a mathematician and will forbear comment.

  •  That no proven case of hallucination in reliable UFO witnesses exists

A number of clearly hallucinatory cases exists, though the percipients may not be regarded as reliable by Grove. Both Schonher (6) and Keel (7) have pointed out evidence suggesting that Type I cases are of a hallucinatory nature. Several of Vallée’s cases (8) are not capable of an objective explanation. As such witnesses can always be regarded as unreliable such cases tend to got ‘swept under the carpet’. Vallée now also concludes that entity reports do show regional/temporal variations. (8)

Jung and the UFOs

Jung suggested that UFOs are archetypal, symbols in a collective unconscious (9). Grove criticises this (JU) on the grounds that archetypes cannot be inherited genetically. There is little reason to suppose that Jung ever thought that they were, in a literal sense. Jung always regarded the ‘collective subconscious’ as an immaterial in a dualistic sense. Similarly the importance of archetypes in no way relates to their ultimate origin. However laboratory experiments on rats suggest that under certain conditions learning may be inherited. Tradition handed down from the earliest clan communities of Homo Erectus, until the advent of mass media may well have modified genetic structure. Jung’s hypotheses were not created to ‘explain’ the UFO phenomenon as was the ETH; thus one could say that the ETH violates Occam’s Razor. To say that a hypothesis is ‘suspect’ because it explains a phenomenon, yet  violates commonsense, is a curious novelty. It is difficult to see how the theory ofrelativity, for example, could have emerged under such a principle.

A significant number of psychoanalysts still adhere to  Jung’s ideas,The psychologists however have no such set of accepted views; enormous controversies still surround all psychological theorising.


Any general interpretation of the UFO phenomenon will have to violate the generally accepted ‘laws’ of physics, psychology, or both. At the present psychology is much less rigid than physics, therefore novel psychological theories are more plausible than any concept which jolts the laws of physics. The only serious critique of the psychological hypothesis, that of Carl Grove contains a number of unfounded statements and over generalisations, and thus has not established its case.



  1. Grove, Carl. ‘UFOs, Psychological theories and their defects’. BUFORA Journal, vol. 2, no. 11, spring 1970, pp. 3-5
  2. Grove, Carl. ‘Hoax and hallucination, the evidence’. BUFORA Journal, vol. 2, no. 12, summer 1970, pp. 3-5.
  3. Grove, Carl. ‘Jung and the UFOs’. BUFORA Journal, vol. 3, no. 2, winter 1970, pp. 3-5
  4. Tyrell, G.N.M. Apparitions, 2nd ed., Duckworth, 1953.
  5. Knight, Damon. Charles Fort, Prophet of the Unexplained, Gollancz, 1971.
  6. Schoenherr, Luis. ‘Question of reality’, FSR, vol. 17, no. 3.
  7. Keel, John. ‘A perfect apparition’, FSR, vol. 17, 3.
  8. Vallée, Jacques. Passport to Magonia. Regnery, 1969
  9. Jung, Carl. Flying Saucers, a Modern Myth of Things seen in the Skies.

 Carl Grove responded to this article HERE

Not the E.T.H.
Jenny Randles

This articles was first published in Magonia 17, October 1984, which was a special issue reviewing the current status of the extraterrestrial hypothesis. Related articles include:

I was surprised but very pleased that MAGONIA has decided to descend from the heights of psycho-social theorising (at least for one issue) and face the very real problems still proferred by the possibility that some UFOs just might be alien. I have a feeling that we have all rather got carried away with our theories regarding a wholly subjective solution to the UFO enigma. We are getting dangerously close to the point where we were willing subconsciously to distort the facts if they challenged our newly won and much vaunted theories. Anything which even hinted at some sort of exotic UFO reality was not to be regarded with the slightest trust, nor afforded more than a cursory or derisory glance.

I know that I nearly fell into that trap myself, for I swam with the torrents of raging subjectivity for several years, up to the last two or three. In working on my last couple of books I went back to basics and reappraised a few things in my own mind. I also started to listen to UFO witnesses for a change. That was a rather eye-opening thing to do; for I discovered that I had been preaching to them, largely from ignorance, saying “Sorry – despite what you think you saw that night two years ago you did not really see it at all, you only imagined it, but in such a way that it seemed very real”. Again and again witnesses would stare back at me and say, “But if you had been there, you would know:”

Then it occurred to me that I was foisting my conviction that their encounter could not be describing reality, onto them. But with what right? A dozen witnesses who were generally fine observers, clearly sane and intelligent, and obviously sincere, were telling me each year that what they saw was as real as the nine o’clock bus. And a dozen armchair theorists (me included) were telling them that this just could not be.
If you really think through this situation you may get a hint of the magnitude of error I believe we have been making. But I think I now understand why we have been making it. Quite simply we have always assumed that the world comprises black and white choices. In truth it rarely does. The question of UFO reality does not consist of either John Smith saw a real, objective, exotic craft that flew through the air, landed somewhere, and then stayed there until its next flight past an unsuspecting witness; or else he merely dreamt/hallucinated/imagined/archetypally reconstituted/birth trauma dramatised this, when nothing was actually there at all.

Whenever you keep hedging around a question in many different ways but still end up with paradoxes in return, then quite simply you have asked the wrong question. That is a basic scientific principle. We have never resolved this clearly because exotic UFOs are neither objectively real nor subjectively real. They are something else altogether. They are what I call ‘Quasi-Conscious Experiences’. They form their very own niche on the spectrum of reality.

We, as ufologists, have been acting rather like chemists in the last century, struggling with the embryonic periodical table of elements. We have this ‘thing’ called mercury which is a whopping great anomaly. But we have only two elements on our table clearly defined: hydrogen at the ‘light’ end and lead at the ‘heavy’ end. Mercury has certain characteristics of lead so we might choose to call it ‘funny lead’. Others may argue that it is too ‘light’ to be lead and call it ‘funny hydrogen’. The debate rages and goes nowhere.

From our cushion of years this looks stupid because we know mercury is mercury and not any sort of hydrogen or lead. But only the clear development of the table of elements demonstrates this. I think we are now similarly failing to see that the UFO close encounter, as a facet of QC-Experience is neither a strange kind of subjective reality, nor an extreme form of objective reality – but something in between and altogether different.

Once we accept this gradation of reality some remarkable things start to happen. We can slot particular experiences into their correct little niche and clearly define their parameters. What is more, we can predict sorts of experiences and their properties which seem to fit into the gaps in our gradation – just as the chemists were able to define the properties of rare elements which completed the Periodic Table. It is in this way that the QC-Experience is seen to be a necessary feature of the spectrum of reality. If nobody had ever experienced anything like it, we would be rather puzzled because the way phenomena blend into one another, as we move from objectivity to subjectivity, clearly shows that it ought to exist.

If we take total objectivity at one extreme, for example posting a letter in a bright red postbox. This is objective, everybody who approaches it sees the same red box. But the complete extreme of total objectivity is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve, because our mind and perceptions experience the box, and (however slightly) distort our interpretation of it. We may perhaps feel a strong empathy, or antipathy, to the colour red. This will distort our view to some extent.

At the other extreme of the spectrum is total subjectivity; again hard to achieve in practice, but most dreams come close. The imagery is wholly imagined and personal to us. But just as emotions affecting our colour concept of the postbox produce a slight step down from total objectivity, so can external data intrude into our dreams, and thus create a step down from total subjectivity.

These two step-downs enable us to see how the extremes begin to blend together, and the image of the spectrum of reality becomes clear. At some point, of course, there needs to be a 50/50 halfway house, where there are equal levels of subjectivity and objectivity. But there are also many shades in between.

Our present need is to slot the vast wealth of what we call ‘paranormal’ phenomena into their correct places on the spectrum of reality.
One phenomena we can place is the lucid dream [1], that strange experience where the person knows they are dreaming as the dream unfolds, and this realisation allows a certain conscious control over the dream imagery, and also sharpens the focus of the dream-making: it becomes dramatically more ‘real’ or lucid – hence the name.

It was my own personal experience of these magical things, plus later reading and research into them, which helped clarify my ideas about the spectrum of reality. The lucid dream has a place between the subjective end of the spectrum and the halfway house. It may be perhaps 60% subjective and 40% objective – although these are no more than figures at this stage of the game and ought not to be taken too literally.

The lucid dream seems so real because it contains such a relatively high degree of ‘objectivity’, but it is still recognisable as a dream because it lies on the subjective side of the halfway house. We can define it as a subjective experience with a (say) 40% level of objective data intruding; thus allowing the ‘waking consciousness’ to partly control and adapt the environment created by the ‘sleeping unconscious’. In other words, the dreamer emerges from a sleep/dream state, close to 100% subjectivity, with the dream landscape thus intact, but the new level of objective override moulds and shapes this.
Now, if you have accepted my argument so far you will see that some sort of phenomenon must exist that fits the point on the spectrum between halfway house and the objective end of the spectrum. In many respects this is a mirror-image of the lucid dream, and it is what I recognise immediately as the Quasi-Conscious Experience. The term ‘waking lucid dream’ may well be apt.

Here the person emerges from normal waking reality, and steps down towards the subjective end of the spectrum, with the intrusion of a 40% subjective over-ride. Consequently the landscape which finds itself moulded and shaped is originally an objective one – the ‘real’ world. In the QC-Experience, or Waking Lucid Dream, the percipient finds subconscious data flooding in to a 40% level, to such an extent that it changes the perceived environment to a considerable extent.

In the lucid dream the balance favoured subjectivity and the step down occurred from the dream state, so the percipient believes the new experience to be a dream, but much more real. In the QC-Experience the opposite is true. The balance favours object
ivity and the step down was from the ‘real’ world. Now the percipient believes the new experience is real, but more dream-like.
UFO close encounters display this dream-like aura well – I call it the ‘Oz Factor’ [2]. It is, in my view, just the symptom which denotes the stepdown towards subjectivity.

I have tried to put these ideas across to ufology for the last couple of years, but with limited success. This is probably because it is a complex thing which is much easier to grasp in my case because: a] it has developed over a long period, and b] I have experienced several of the different niches on the spectrum of reality.

But I am quite excited by it, because it seems to be making sense out of so much that previously left me baffled and confused. In no way am I suggesting this as some sort of dramatic discovery. To me it is only something reasonably obvious that many people must have seen before. Nor does it solve the problem of precisely what UFOs are (except that they are neither real nor unreal – but a bit of both. However, I think it opens up new
avenues of exploration.

You see, UFOs are many things, and I want it clearly understood that I am here discussing what I term ‘Exotic UFOs’ (principally close encounters). UAPs – Unidentified Atmospheric Phenomena – are entirely different, and are objective. They really exist, in every sense of the word real, and are natural physical mysteries on the threshold of science. There are almost certainly several different UAP types that are reported as UFOs; earthlights may well be one, extreme forms of ball lightning are another probably kind. I need to make this very plain, because certain reviews of my two latest books – including one in Magonia – have referred to my alleged theory that UAPs are alien. That is nonsensical, UAPs are earthbound, natural and in no sense controlled by intelligences of any description. The evidence that they exist is, to me, irrefutable.

The ‘Exotic UFOs’ are actually a very small residue out of the total of UFO reports; a fairly obvious fact when you realise that up to 90% of UFO reports are IFOs, and possibly up to 90% of the remainder are UAPs. The left-overs are few and far between, but in global terms they are still a large number of experiences.

Exotic UFOs are not spaceships. That fact is reasonably obvious once you see that, a] we have no photographs of UFOs landed or involved in creating close encounters and b] we have no photographs of alien entities, and c] nobody has yet witnessed somebody else undergoing an alien contact of any kind. You can backtrack as much as you like with convoluted hypotheses, but there is really no way out.

Similarly, Exotic UFOs are not totally subjective experiences of any kind. I say that because they contain far too many obscure but repetitive motifs; because they generate real physiological effects which are unlikely to be psychosomatic; because there are physical effects (e.g. car stops) which demonstrate some form of energy exchange; and because animals get disturbed by them too. I leave aside the thorny question of multiple witness close encounters, although enough exist with sufficient overlap to worry any truly open-minded adherent of the psycho sociological school.

What we end up with is something in-between. A QC-Experience does have heavy subjective overtones, simply by definition. The very thing which makes it different from normal objective reality is the over-ride by subjective data. What we have to do now is to decide the origin of this subjective over-ride.

It may come from inside ourselves, I accept that option. In a lucid dream the intrusion of objectivity is essentially self-oriented. But there is, to my mind, ample evidence that this is not always the case. Precognitive dreams, for example, seem to involve external objective data from the ‘real world’ (or ‘real universe’) – and this in a sense beyond the normal confines of space. In other words, information from an alien civilisation somewhere ‘out there’ is received subconsciously and intrudes into objective reality as a subjective data over-ride, thus changing our perception of reality, to create an alien or UFO reality.

The only reason I am taking the alien origin of the subjective data over-ride seriously is that it explains what we see much more simply. It explains why there are patterns and consistencies (the source is consistent); it explains why there are individual differences (the degree of pick-up and the way we integrate it into our experience will vary from person to person). It explains the form of the QC Experience – it is alien, because that is what lies at the heart of the message; I think it even explains the physical and physiological effects. It is my viewthat UAPs, or ambiguous IFOs, are at the root of most, if not all, close encounters. When UAPs are involved energy will be associated.

We have a situation like the following: Witness A sees a UAP and thinks “Oh my, a UFO”. Energy is emitted and may or may not harm the witness or the environment. Meanwhile because he is naturally susceptible to switches of location on the spectrum of reality (in other words he is psychic) or because of some other unknown trigger, he steps down into a QC-Experience. The Oz Factor takes hold and he later describes his strange sensations and maybe even describes a time-lapse, due to his temporary slip out of normal objective reality into UFO Reality, where time is not as easily delineated. In the QC state the subjective data flows in from the alien source and moulds the external reality. If it is an orange ball of light (a UAP) this may become a spaceship, symbolising the information he is receiving in terms familiar and acceptable to his subconscious, just as when we receive objective facts in a precognitive way in a dream we tend to express them in dream symbols.

As the QC-Experience unfolds the witness believes he is perceiving reality exactly as before, unaware that he has slipped into another niche on the spectrum, where he is now subjectively dramatising received data and superimposing this on the UAP. The experience eventually ends, possibly when the UAP disappears, the aircraft flies away, or the satellite reentry burns up, or when whatever had been the initial stimulus no longer exists.

Of course, the essence of the episode lies in the witnesses mind, clothed in symbolism, and he may not, consciously, even realise that fact. When questioned he will tell what he believes he ‘really’ saw, but that is not terribly important. What is important is the inner substance of the message – the data which was responsible for the over-ride.

Perhaps we ought to be analysing UFO encounters rather like Jung analysed dreams. But we should do so recognising that we may be seeking something much more interesting than our own deeply hidden wishes or desires, or some archetypal facet of the human race. We may be decoding messages from an alien realm.

And so finally to answer the question really posed by this article: are the UFO phenomena alien in origin? If we mean in the traditional sense of gravity-powered space ships from Alpha Century my answer must be no. The ETH in that sense is dead. But I have a growing suspicion that the ETH in a more subtle – or Quasi Conscious) sense may yet provide a few surprises. 

1. Celia Green;Lucid Dreams. (Proceedings of the Institute of Psychophysical Research. vol. 1.) Institute of Psychophysical Research, Oxford, 1968.

2. Spencer, Lawrence R. The Oz Factors: The Wizard of Oz as an Analogy to the Mysteries of Life AuthorHouse, 1999

Missing Time, Missing Links.
Dennis Stillings

From Magonia 28, January 1988

After the first day’s sessions of the fourth annual meeting of the Society for Scientific Exploration (SSE) several ufologists and I repaired to the motel bar to continue a variety of discussions begun earlier in the day.

After a few minutes it became quite clear that I was the only one present who did not accept the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) to account for certain aspects of the UFO phenomenon. I brought up a few of mu arguments against the ETH with the result that the rest of the group tended to shuffle their chairs away from me and lean in toward one another to exchange meaningful anecdotes. I got the impression that I was odd man out in a living replay of The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. (‘Go back to your room. Dennis, your pod is waiting for you!’)

Perhaps my reference to Lawson’s ‘birth memory’ theory [1] amountedto a kind of intellectual B.O. Lawson proposes that UFO ‘abduction’ cases are ‘…archetypal fantasies] involving belief or deception in which an individual’s birth memories play a central role’. Mentioning this theory provoked loud scoffing and snorts. (In my experience, the mere mention of Lawson’s theory has provoked, without exception, excessively emotional responses from ETHers.) I replied that name-calling would not suffice. In what way, precisely, was Lawson incorrect? f was ignored.

As I sat there in my self-induced loneliness, I heard, from the corner of my ear, references to Budd Hopkins Missing Time. I have the book, which I obtained at the last Fortean meeting in Nebraska. I decided to read it through.



Hopkins’ book is quite readable. He believes in the ETH, and his thinking clearly reflects his choice of position. One of the mainstays of the ETH rationale is that the ufonauts are so far beyond us in their advanced thinking that what to us appears as absurd [2] is merely the result of our intellectual inadequacies in the face of overwhelming mental superiority – rather like confrontations with cosmic Zen masters.

Such thinking, of course, has its analogies in religion (Q? ‘Why were the innocent children killed?’ A: We cannot understand such things. Only God, in His infinite wisdom…’) and in politics (‘You can’t question LBJ’s policies on Vietnam. He has access to special information…’). In other words, this argument might be true, but it gets us nowhere. We have to operate with the information we have – what you see is what you get.

Actually, there is a symbolic reason for the popularity of the ‘higher reason’ argument. Khidr is an important figure in Islamic mysticism. [3] He appearss in the Eighteenth Sura of the Koran, entitled ‘The Cave’. Interestingly enough for our discussion here, the entire sura is taken up with a rebirth mystery. The ‘cave’ is a place of transformation where people experience ‘missing time’. Khidr, also known as ‘the Anagel of the Face’, who is a symbol for the self, takes the form of a ’round fish lacking bones and skin’.In the legend Khidr changes from the fish form to his original form and sits on an island on a throne consisting of light. [4] Khidr indulges in ‘incomprehensible deeds’ that are meant to puzzle the observer. In the end, his mysterious behaviour is explained by him in reasonable and comprehensible terms.

Jung remarks that these “… incomprehensible deeds.. show how ego-consciousness reacts to the superior guidance of the self through the twists and turns of fate. To the initiate who is capable of transformation it is a comforting tale; to the obedient believer, an exhortation not to murmur against Allah’s incomprehensible omnipotence. Khidr symbolizes … the higher wisdom …”

The symbolism of Khidr is replete with analogies to the UFO phenomenon and to the mental states of ETH believers. One may scoff at the reasoning of those who hold to the ETH, but their attitude is one of piety and submission [5] in the face of what appears to be transcendent power and wisdom — qualities never far from foolishness and the absurd. It is even probable that the UFO phenomenon is related to the resurgence of Islam. [6]

The second linchpin of typical ETH reasoning is the ‘anthropocentric argument’. When people raise the question: ‘Why don’t the ETs land on the White House lawn and ask to see the president?’, this is anthropocentric. When the ETHer comes up with his own ‘explanation’, it is not. Let me give you just one example from Hopkins (page 218): “It is irrelevant to raise the kind of objection that goes like this: ‘If extraterrestrials are really here, why do they bother with six-year-old children when they can land publicly and talk to our presidents and our scientists?’ [7] As if Ronald Reagan or Jimmy Carter, or, for that matter, Carl Sagan or Robert Jastrow, must inevitably be central to their concerns. Maybe yes, but equally conceivably, maybe no. Perhaps their kind of preliminary investigation requires monitoring a wide range of people over their entire lifetimes…”

As you can see, the relatively commonsense notion of the ufonauts contacting our heads of government is considered anthropocentric and worthy_ of sarcasm, while Hopkins’ pro-ETH ‘explanation’ is not.

We have to start somewhere, and – inadequate though they may be – our own reason and experience must be applied to such problems before we go soaring off into the ozone or endless speculation. Hopkins’ book is full of this kind of double standard. There is no need to multiply examples. Suffice it to say, the logic of the matter is this: if you object to an argument because it is anthropocentric, you automatically remove the subject from discussion. All human explanations are ‘anthropocentric’, strictly speaking. Again, a useless approach.

I am convinced that, for many people, concern with the phenomena of UFOs induces a non-rational state of a typical sort. Let me give you an example. Hopkins’ book ‘documents’ several cases in which people have been abducted against their will, hypnotized, operated on, scarred for life, terrorized and subjected to the investigations of ufologists. To all this, Hopkins remarks: “For all any of us knows the whole UFO phenomenon may be ultimately, blissfully benign – there is firm evidence for this position – and so having been abducted may have turned out to be a peculiar privilege. No one knows”. Damned peculiar privilege, I’d say.

The ‘absurd’ birth memory theory

Of course the ‘birth memory theory’ is ‘absurd’. When Hopkins subjects, under hypnosis, report “The walls around the room are curved … It’s like a big oval. It has a really calming effect, being in this room … It’s almost like being hypnotized…you feel as if you could float. It’s very peaceful. And there is not a sound. Nothing. I think it’s the quietest place I was ever in. This table … grows out of the floor. And … it’s a perfect temperature, so I’m perfectly comfortable’ (page 80). And, on Page 173, “BH: You say this face had a foetus-like look? P0: Yes … sort of like an embryo … and also, I did have the impression of blood vessels…’”

And on page 139 we have the following abductee report of sensations in the UFO laboratory: “I have a visual image of soft colours, pearl-grays with some blue or mauve … but a kind of textured feeling, like leather and velvet, you know those kinds of nice, smooth comfortable textures, but I don’t have … it
could be that somebody was in a different room and talking to me but, um — it was though I was in a room by myself…”

Now, Lawson may be wrong, but his suggestion that birth memories might be involved is not absurd and deserves consideration.

The surgical skills of the ETs

The surgical skills of the ETs are poor. For all their advanced science, they seem to be unable to perform the simplest procedures without creating severe pain and anxiety. They scar patients for life, both emotionally and physically. Yet they are to be considered ‘benign’. According to Hopkins, ETs may have a ’20,000-year’ jump on us. Considering the advances we have made in less than 100 years, an uninterrupted 20,000 years of technological and spiritual progress should produce surgical techniques of the order of teleporting of tissue.

Certainly pain-free surgery should be old hat. Even we poor benighted humans can perform quite serious surgical procedures with little or no pain. The implantation of a cardiac pace-maker, for one example, can be accomplished with local anaesthesia on an outpatient basis. The stories of bleeding cuts on the bodies of abductees after the experience do not impress me. I have received cuts on many, occasions, even deep, ‘surgical’ ones, that were painless and without apparent cause. I simply assume that I came in contact with something sharp while my attention was elsewhere. On one occasion, when there was a particularly long, deep, mysterious cut in my elbow and forearm, I figured out the cause – it was not obvious, but it was not anomalous either. In the profoundly altered states in which the ‘abductees’ experience their ‘encounters’, it requires no great strain of the imagination suppose that these ‘stigmata’ are self-inflicted, either accidentally, or in such a way as to correspond to the symbolic nature of the experience.

The putative ETs have all the earmarks of human psychic components in symbolic form, which are in the proceess of manifesting in the psychic economy of a person undergoing a psychological transformation of a typical sort — perhaps that very transformation traditionally referred to as ‘rebirth’.

The ancient and collective nature of this type of experience is symbolically indicated by the uniformity of the physical appearance of the ‘ETs’ (they are quasi-instinctive). Their constant dingling around with the earth and with human (and plant and animal) bodies is symbolic of the fact that they have not attained full manifestation ‘in the flesh’ and have not as yet entered into the individual’s new adaptation to the world. The ‘ETs’ are, metaphorically speaking, testing the new, unaccustomed waters of physical existence in space and time.

Such ‘births into the body’ may be compared to the image of Christ in the manger — the cave, the abode of animals (instincts). This timeless image for the birth of a new principle in the human psyche precisely corresponds to much of the symbolism of ETHer ufological speculation, hence the ‘birth imagery’ and all the glorious crank speculations about Christ being an extraterrestrial. Since these ‘components’ come from a region where ordinary concepts of space, time, pain and death do not exist, they have no way of relating to the problems of the ‘abductee’. This is a symbolic process at the deepest level.

Anyone who finds himself a centre for this kind of attention will be in the midst of some remarkable events. That stigmata may be produced would not be too surprising.

The ‘abduction’ fantasies: dreams and ‘active imagination’

The accounts of the ‘abductees’ are replete with descriptions of the ETs silently acting out scenes without paying particular attention to the observer. This is a characteristic of dreams.

There are distortions of time and space, often accompanied by lacunae in the sequences of events. In describing his tour through the inside of a UFO, one subject remarked (page 78): ‘It’s funny, this thing didn’t look that big from the outside’. One is reminded of the Charles Finney story of the Circus of Dr Lao. The circus tent (= UFO?), from the outside, is of quite modest proportions. Inside, it becomes almost a small cosmos. Hopkins cites one of the lacunae in a sequence of events: “When he first entered the … room, hewalked towards the table. …The next moment, he was seated on the table nearly naked, and his clothes were nowhere to be seen. One can speculate either that he has repressed the disturbing experience of being stripped and lifted onto the table, or that he may have been, in fact, unconscious during that operation. (page 85)

My explanation would be that we are dealing with a dream mechanism where such sequences are quite common. I need scarcely point out the relevance of this scene to the ‘birth memory’ hypothesis. It is of special interest that the subject in this abduction case reported: ‘I feel like a frog’ (page 84). One is reminded of the foetal leg positions as well as those of the neonate. Women often refer to infants affectionately as ‘little frogs’. The subject also felt ‘physically dirty, and wanted very much to shower’ (pacge 86). Hint. hint. One of Hopkins’ subjects even says: ‘It seemed like a dream sequence. That’s what it seemed like. It seemed like a dream sequence. It didn’t quite oil come out together’. What you see is what you get. You have here a remembered dream. Let’s give the abductee some credit and take what he reports for what it is.

It should be pointed out, however, that these are not average dreams. They are archetypal dreams, or ‘big dreams’ as primitives call them. Therefore, the subjects who have these very strong and impressive dreams feel them to be different in quality from ordinary dreams. They are quite right. Another of Hopkins’ subjects puts this experience this way: “It’s almost like it’s a dream. In fact, maybe I thought it was a dream except, except – I’d never had a dream like that! … The place is like a dream…”

Dozens of examples of dreamlike qualities can be found in the accounts given by the abductees examined by Hopkins. Nevertheless. Hopkins refuses to entertain this quite obvious alternative explanation. That many people present essentially the some dream is no problem. The meaning of UFOs and ETs is archetypal and may be expected to repeat a very similar pattern.

Some of Hopkins’ subjects appear to have hit upon the technique of ‘active imagination’. This techniques [9] allows one to go into a kind of ‘waking dream’, in which an imaginary play is carried out before one’s eyes, having the same sort of autonomous character as a movie or living diorama. One of Hopkins’ subjects, giving his impressions of an ET medical examination. reports on an ‘eye-like’ device as follows (page 171): “I never have just a stationary image. but I get a sort of initial quick impression and then it starts degrading into all other kinds or things”. This is a typical subjective experience in active imagination.

The subject continues (page 175): “I was just trying this time to tell you wherever just sort of popped into my mind. It was very much just kind of a collage of impressions … There was not any kind of sequential thing … There was not any involvement, really, or the feeling I was reliving anything … rather that I was acting as an observer”. And, further on: “It was not a bright room, and, ah, I don’t recoil any brightness at all, but that’s the image my mind is creating now”. This is active imagination pure and simple.

The experience of active imagination is initiated by a sort or abaisssement du niveau mentale, a lowering or ‘relaxation’ of consciousness. Certain exterior conditions are very favourable for the production or such states. Waking through the area where one ‘abduction’ took place, Hopkins himself remarks on the ‘eerie, slumbering quality’ of the grounds (page 183). A second subject of Hopkins reports on hearing her name called in the woods [10] (page 202).

I have had this experience myself in the deep woods of Montana. The ‘unconscious is, in compensatory fashion, reaffirming the person’s identity. This reaction is brought forth from the unconscious to counteract the well-known tendency for consciousness to fragment under conditions of isolation. Such a reaction, and its strength are relative to the degree of isolation experienced and to the strength of the individual ego-consciousness. These conditions cited by Hopkins are optimal for inducing active imagination.

Once one becomes familiar with these altered states of consciousness, the ETH as supported by cases such as those presented in Missing Time loses considerable credibility. Anyone who stumbles onto this technique is very impressed by it. I know I was at first, and I spent one whole night just recording the incredibly vivid images that forced themselves on my mind. You con do active imaginations about dragons, unicorns – what have you, and you will find that they are very typical and a slight personal variation on something that can be looked up in a fairy-tale book. Nowadays we have high-tech fairy tales.

ETs: cockroaches of the cosmos, or, when the world gets the DTs we start seeing ETs

The UFO phenomenon, broadly speaking is a monstrum compositum. Within the range of UFO phenomena, we see the organic, the inorganic, psychic events, and physical traces: also myths and fairy tales. The UFO phenomenon covers the full range of meaning and aesthetic appeal from the banal and ridiculous to the highest spiritual levels. At times aspects of the phenomenon can be described as fishlike, [11] birdlike, [12] insectlike, [13] and any combination of these features. It is of no avail to try to find out which of these things the UFO is. It is all of them. The composite nature of UFO imagery indicates that it arises from the deepest layers of the collective unconscious. [14]

This does not mean it is merely psychic. At some point in the collective unconscious the psychic meets the hylic. [15] and the usual categories disappear. Somecne once said: ‘A trick, if it’s done right, doesn’t look like a trick, it looks real’. If the UFO phenomenon were exclusively psychic or exclusively physical in nature, it would not capyure our attention the way it does. It is part of ‘the message’ that the phenomenon cannot be clearly categorized. When one does clearly categorize the phenomenon, one begins to suffer from UFO-lobotomy: one loses the ability to think critically about the subject, one falls into self-contradiction, forgets contradictory data, develops quasi-theological sophistries to ‘explain’ the absurd behaviour of the UFOs — in effect, one meets his pod. In my opinion, there is no small evidence that this fate has befallen the ETHers.

If we look at the ETs with any kind of objectivity at all, we see them as buzzing, expressionless, more or less indistinguishable creatures with little or no feeling for their human victims — like large insects with rudimentary tools for probing the bodies of the abductees as the probe the ground for soil samples – leaving their peculiar insect bites and ‘traces’.We are living in stressful times, not just for us, but for the whole planet. If nature has access to our minds – and she does — would not consciousness be the most vulnerable point at which to attack and disable the species threatening the entire natural world? For the first
time, perhaps, in the history of the world, there is a universal threat of extinction. We should expect the strongest sort of evolutionary response to this emergency.

This response cannot extend over the long periods of time usually available for such changes. The changes must occur within decades. The vulnerability of consciousness makes it the prime target for fast evolutionary change, a change so rapid that it has to overload the circuits, producing a vast array of overdetermined imagery with a wide spectrum of effects. The effects produced may result in higher consciousness, but not necessarily.

When I see some of the responses to the UFO phenomenon like, for instance, the ETH, I suspect that nature may be creating false fascinosa that keep our eyes glued upward until we fall of some cliff into the sea. Then the world will once again be at peace.



  1. Alvin H, Larson, ‘UFO abductions or birth memories?’, Fate, March 1985, pp, 68-84, See also Magonia new series 10.
  2. The behaviour of UFOs and their pilots is truly a ‘dance of the absurd’, for important comments on the function of the absurd in general, see my ‘Note on
    the function of nonsense’, Archaeus, 3, 1 (summer 1985), and for observations on the ‘absurd’ in relation to UFOs, see Jacques Vallée, Messengers of Deception; UFO Contacts and Cults, Berkeley, And/Or Press 1979, passim.
  3. For a full discussion of the Khidr legend see Carl Jung, The Archetypes and the Collective Unconscious, Collected Works, 9,1. New York, Pantheon Books, 1959, pp, 135-147.
  4. Jung’s Sufi headman of his safari through Kenya told him that Khidr might appear to Jung as a ‘pure, white light’. The headman himself reported he had dreamt of Khidr as a ‘bright white light near the door’, Ibid., p. 143.
  5. As the nuclear crisis is a backdoor reinstillation of the original ‘fear of God’, the UFO phenomena seem to be designed to reacquaint us with a wide range of other religious virtues.
  6. Undoubtedly, Islam is possessed of a new dynamism, This is negatively expressed in Khomeini but Islam, as the youngest of the world’s great religions, has its fulfilment still in the future, Jung has commented on this, and Anthony Burgess in his novel 1985 predicts an Islamic Britain by the end of the century, Wild, you say? Have you noticed our change in attitudes towards virginity pornography and alcohol?
  7. That UFOs do not manifest definitively to the organizational power structures is part at the archetypal ayth, there is no room for the, ‘principle of salvation’ in the Inn. It appears first to shepherds in the fields.
  8. See also Stanislav Grof, Realms of the Human Unconscious, New York, Viking Press. 1975, The possibility of the remembrance of the birth process, especially in connection with violence, is supported by Edward C Whitmont in his book Return of the Goddess, New York, Crossroad, 1982, pp, 17-18.
  9. For the original discussion of the concept of active imagination (term not used), see C. G. Jung, ‘The transcendent function’ in The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche, Collected Works, 8. New York, Pantheon Books, 1960, pp, 57-91) Discussion of the nature and function of active imagination can be found throughout the Jungian literature.
  10. A book was written years ago on this subject: Max Lowy, Uber sine Unruhe erscheinung; die Halluzination des Anrufes mit dem eigenen Namen (ohne und mit Beachtungswahn), Separatabdruck aus den Jahrbuchen fur Psychiatrie und Neurologie, XXXIII Band, Leipzig u, Wien, Franz Deuticke, 1911. The title translates: On an Anxiety Manifestation; the hallucination of being called by one’s name without and with pathological disturbances of attention).
  11. UFOs have been seen rising from and returning to the sea, Jung discusses the UFO as fish in Flying Saucers: a modern myth of things seen in the skies, in Civilization in Transition, Collected Works, 10, New York, Pantheon Books, 1964, See also Lyall Watson’s highly suggestive ruminations on underwater lights, squid and their large eyes and ETs in his book Gifts of Unknown Things, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1976, pp, 18-37.
  12. Greta Woodrew, On a Slide of Light, New York, Macmillan, 1981 – Hawks
  13. Gerald Heard. The Riddle of the Flying Saucers, London, Carroll and Nichdlson, 1950. – Bees.
  14.  At the deepest levels of the unconscious, everything is everything
  15. The region currently under investigation by several leading quantum theorists.


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Godships. Matthew J. Graeber

From Magonia 52, May 1995

Although we might expect to make little headway towards resolving today’s UFO enigma by comparing it to past mysteries, we may, nevertheless, examine both present and past UFO events as being comprised of optically perceived images or imagery that occasionally have an extraordinary effect upon the individual(s) who either observe or come into close proximity with them. Such effects may be emotional, physical, psychophysiological, or psychological in nature; and the mechanisms by which they are produced upon the observers by the UFOs are unknown, as is the composition, origin and intent (if any?) of the Unidentified Flying Objects themselves.

Several ufologists have described the UFO experience as a form of “display” (Jung, Alnor, Evans, Sprinkle, Salisbury, Graeber, et al.). Theoretically speaking, this display may be directed at an individual observer or a particular group of individuals, or it may even have collective significance. The effect of observing a UFO display may be likened to the intrapsychical process involved during the perception of a Rorschach plate (ink blot), with the exception being that the UFO experience is not contemplative and passive. Rather, it is sudden, shocking, and often overwhelming to the observer’s senses.

Primitive man feared, revered or was awestruck by things that came from the sky – probably because he had little or no power over such things as lightning, tornadoes, thunder, whirlwinds, etc., and did not understand what these natural phenomena really were. In fact, many people of ancient cultures even believed that gods and a host of demons also inhabited the skies and that they could swoop down upon them at any moment. So, it is not uncommon to learn of cross-cultural legends and myths about sky people who rustled livestock, abducted humans, mated with earth women, and even switched their offspring for human infants. Today’s UFO abduction reports may be a technologically accented version of this ancient myth;, but, instead of the aliens snatching babies from their cradles, they now surgically remove the unborn foetus from the abductee’s womb. Obviously, today’s social experimentation, unrest, andnear obsession with the abortion issue has activated an unconscious or perhaps instinctual response to the “split-mindedness” of our society concerning this issue. Perhaps that is why the “new age” variety of sky people (i.e. the little grey aliens) are reported to look very similar to a human foetus.

Modern day ufologists, especially those of the hypno-abductionist persuasion, would do well to keep these things in mind as they plumb the depths of the human unconscious for proof of alien interactions with humans. For mythological ideas and beliefs such as the above mentioned are, in fact, the end products of unconscious psychic processes that autonomously appear when there is a great emotional need present. So, simply because UFO abduction stories sound very much alike, we shouldn’t believe that indicates that they are “real experiences”, that is, “real” beyond the realms of the human psyche and its fantastic power and effect upon the individual.

Since we are primarily discussing the optically perceived “display factor” of the UFO encounter, we would probably do well to select a specific UFO configuration to examine for its potential archetypal character and symbolic meaningfulness to modern man. The UFO I have selected for this cursory probe is the gigantic cylindrical craft which are commonly called “motherships” by UFO researchers. I have chosen this particular UFO with the hopes that its size and unusual performance will afford us some insights regarding its origin.

Although motherships have been rarely observed in the last couple of decades, they represent an important facet of the UFO legend’s ongoing development because they were considered by many ufologists to be the vessels that the aliens use to traverse the stars; while the smaller discoidal craft that they carried were thought to be excursion vehicles primarily used to survey the Earth or to collect terrestrial soil, flora and fauna samples. In this case, it is obvious that man’s own space-conquering aspirations and techniques have been directly projected upon an assumed alien technological presence in our environment.

In the early days of UFO activity, these transporters were rather rapidly moving craft and were occasionally involved in the highly publicised airliner pursuit cases of the 1950s and 1960s. But, in more recent times, not only have they slowed down considerably, they also have become rather unstable aerostats frequently said to be observed bobbing, about in the sky because of the buffeting effect of high winds.

The descriptions of these sky-tubes tend to vary a great deal, and there seems to be some confusion amongst the UFO groups regarding how they should be categorised. For some of the great ships are said to be rigid forms (metallic looking) and hollow like a conduit of some sort. These UFOs are usually reported to be silvery or quite dark in colour, while others appear to be translucent or luminous objects that closely resemble a red-hot poker that is occasionally sheathed in a veil of white light or smoke.

Then, of course, there are the “cloud ships” or “cloud cigars”. These are often said to be detected by the witnesses because they move against the prevailing winds and do not tend to dissipate like the regular clouds in which they take refuge. Interestingly, these carriers also display the ability to land, which is an extremely rare occurrence for the other type and, although they appear to lack any sort of metallic structure, they still manage to maintain a particular shape, such as a loaf of French bread or an enormous cigar.

If we search the ancient writings of man and examine a few of his mythological concepts, we will discover that these motherships probably should be called the god ships. (1) For, certainly these carriers are easily associated with Biblical epiphanies of fire and light, pillars of fire, whirlwinds, and other miraculous manifestations such as the great luminous cloud which was said to have led and nourished Moses and his followers during the time of their flight from Egypt.

We might also find interest in the fact that these cylinders as “a symbolic phallic form” compare quite nicely with the ancient worship of the generative power of nature (and God), which was depicted as a phallus. (2) Such religious rites were practised in several ancient cultures (especially in the Orient), and also appeared in the Dionysiac festivals of ancient Greece. (3)

Symbolically speaking, one might say that the god ship is a colossus (pregnant) and is said to launch (give birth to) many zip-zapping smaller craft (spheres or discs; i.e., female symbols) which wildly scoot about the troposphere like sperm cells in search of an egg to fertilise. Even more interestingly (according to the reports), the cylinders tend to assume a provocatively youthful erection attitude when the ejaculation of the smaller craft takes place (roughly 40 to 45 degrees off the horizontal plane); and to further compound their male sexuality, they quite often take on a reddish glow that quickly engulfs the entire interior of the cylinder (as if to suggest that blood was surging through the tube).

Dirigible landing at Mineola, NY, July 1919

As an androgynous (phallic-uterine) symbol, the god ship is then a sort of “dual-singularity”, or, what Jung might have called “a union of opposites”, which has the ability to carry/eject and absorb smaller UFOs. It is at once a sort of visual aid, projected upon the atmosphere, which symbolically explains, according to the level of man’s thinking or belief, that:

  • 1) That God has the power to create and reclaim;
  • 2) That the natural pulse of life (nature) is a cyclic phenomenon eternally replenishing itself;
  • 3) That energy is conserved.

Curiously, the followers of the ancient Hindu faith will tell you that Matha-Vishnu (second person of the Hindu trinity) can, by merely breathing in and out, create or destroy entire spiritual universes, and we know that this thought closely parallels the remark made by a little sylph to Facius Cardan, [4] which asserted that God’s creation was not a singular event but rather an ongoing, from moment to moment, occurrence, and that if God should desist for even a moment, all would end. 

These notions seem to have anticipated quantum theory, just as surely as the phallic forms appeared in the skies long before the 20th century. What’s more, the phallic also influenced the artists of antiquity, for such forms frequently appear in drawings and carvings which were not only intended to symbolise nature but were also believed to invoke the fructifying powers of the gods at the time of planting. The phallic symbol also appears to have had directional meaning (5) and was possibly believed to have had threatening powers over one’s enemies.

Besides being threateningly penetrating, it can also single one out or offer direction to us in the form of a very penetrating dream or dream message. Interestingly, Dr Jung noted that many of his patients encountered this archetypal symbol in their slumber and it was obvious these dreams had very diverse meanings; but, generally, they come through in what he called “big dreams” – that is, dreams of tremendous power and influence. The kind of dream one thinks about a great deal upon awakening, wondering what in the world it might have meant.

One such commentary appeared in Jung’s landmark book on UFOs and I would like to elaborate on it here because it illustrates how the phallic UFO is perceived in the unconscious mind which is, of course, extremely important to any serious study of the UFO enigma; simply because we are not certain how many of these mysterious objects hail from man’s inner space, that is, his unconscious.

Dr Jung’s patient’s dream: 

“I was out walking, at night, in the streets of a city. ‘Interplanetary machines’ appeared in the sky and everyone fled. The machines looked like steel cigars. I did not flee, one of the ‘machines’ spotted me and came straight toward me at the oblique angle. I think Professor Jung says that one should not run away, so I stand still and look at the machine. From the front, seen close to, it looked like a circular eye, half blue, half white.

“A room in a hospital: My two chiefs came in, very worried and asked my sister how it was going. My sister replied that the mere sight of the machine had burnt my whole face. (6) Only then did I realise that they were talking about me, and that my whole head was bandaged, although I could not see it”

I have selected this dream for study for a couple of reasons. First of all, it touches upon the process of selectivity frequently attributed to the phallic symbol and UFOs, and, secondly, because it had the remarkable burning characteristics found in quite a number of UFO cases, in particular, a case on file at UFORIC, (7) which was investigated by Mr Michael McClellan, formerly of APRO.

Mike’s report on that experience starts off with the witness’s (Mrs Flagg’s) letter to him relating her sighting particulars and reads as follows:

“Dear Mr McClellan, Having read an article in the Times News about the UFO sightings in Mahoning Valley that took place – I thought perhaps it might be a good idea to tell you what I have seen Friday A.M. on October 26. I saw something very unusual in the sky. It wasn’t anything like a flying saucer but rather three large silver planes that looked like jets and they sparkled like three large diamonds in the sky. They also had a flickering light that kept blinking at a speed which I have never seen in all my life.

“The three flickering lights kept blinking so fast and each one had a rod attached to it. In other words, from down here, to me, they looked like three wands with a large star at the tip of each rod. The three planes (as I call them) were huddled so close together and I thought for a minute they would crash if they bumped into one another.

“The objects were all lit up and could be seen from all parts of the world. One couldn’t miss them. It seemed to me as if they were being held in the air by magnets. They weren’t moving there. All of a sudden, the UFO in the center made a quick turn just as a fish would swish its tail (8) and headed towards the opposite direction from the others. This scared me, as I thought for a minute it was going to zoom down here at me. I ran in the house so fast that I almost fell, I turned out all the lights and I went for my binoculars but when I looked up into the sky they had disappeared. I have seen other things (other times) with rays or beams of light emanating from them but it would take a book to write all these and furthermore I always kept this to myself because there are people who think one is a nut. But I was always in fear of these UFOs because I found the tips of my dog’s ears all burned as though someone burnt them with a match. I’m just beginning to wonder if the UFOs are doing it?

“Oh yes, on another occasion one came very close to my home when I happened to be looking out of the window, and this thing from the sky kept coming closer and closer. Well, I got inquisitive and watched. All of a sudden it came real close to my window, gave a turn and a beam went out. It was dark and I didn’t see anything more that evening but as the ray of light hit my windows I heard them crack. The next morning I looked at the windows and, sure enough, they were cracked. I have three windows and they are still cracked from that time.”

Psychophysiological aspects of a close encounter

According to Michael McClellan’s investigative report, the witness became quite ill after the incident and she also suffered a cluster of reddish-coloured skin eruptions and some general discolouration on her entire face which was thought to be a direct result of being exposed to the UFO’s ray. The pimple-like cluster (9) was treated medically as was the illness (nausea) and their sudden emergence remains as much a mystery to Mrs Flagg as it does to the UFO investigator. (10) It should be mentioned that Mr McClellan is a reliable and thorough researcher, who stressed that he had no doubt concerning the sincerity and mental stability of the witncss. However, a clue to the origin of the witness’s UFO experience might be found in her rather cryptic references to the UFOs as the “big three” (11) which she thought were about to crash (i.e., clash) together and would be seen by or otherwise involve the whole world. For, the lady was obviously very concerned about mounting international tensions, and had even felt compelled to compose some patriotic music.

Quite interestingly, in cases of this type we must ponder the thought that a distinct psychophysiological process may be affecting the observer. How this occurs remains unclear, but that does not deny the fact that marked physical effects upon the UFO experiencers and close encounters with UFOs (or their operators) do coincide. For evidence such as nausea, temporary paralysis, unusual skin discolourations and bouts of memory loss are quite often the only physical proof that the UFO investigator can point to to show that a genuine UFO experience has occurred.

Such evidence is, of course, well documented in the responsible saucer literature and can be verified by the physician’s records concerning the observers treatment(s) after the event. But, evidence of this kind should not be considered as some sort of proof-positive concerning an extraterrestrial visitation. However, it does offer the researcher an excellent opportunity to study the possible workings of psychophysical processes (12) in relationship to the perception of specific UFO-like imagery or psychic symbols.

Anyway, if we look at the motherships’ performance record in modern times – we find that they first appeared in the skies as “mystery rockets” over Scandinavia just at the close of World War II. Usually these rockets were heard as well as seen. Moreover, when they were witnessed (as objects with and without vapour trails) the reports indicated that they did not seem to zigzag or hover; rather, they coursed steadfastly through the skies much like the dreaded V-2 rockets and flying buzz bombs that the German military had developed.

Needless to say, many people suspected that these “ghost rockets” were actually Russian devices slapped together by some Nazi scientists who must have fallen into Stalin’s hands. So, quite naturally, the Allies (American and British) immediately dispatched military investigators to search for their launch sites, but the effort was in vain because the sightings suddenly dropped off.

So, it wasn’t until the Cold War year of 1952 that the “motherships” really earned their status in UFO legend. For it was there, high above the French towns of Gaillac and Oleron, that the sky cylinders started dishing out little saucers all over the heavens while also spewing large clumps and fine strands of “angel hair” over power lines, trees, buildings and fence posts. This gossamer substance has rather fascinating characteristics of its own; for it is said that it quickly evaporates, especially when touched; and quite naturally, one is immediately reminded of the Biblical accounts concerning the heaven-sent manna; for this, too, had a protective coating with similar dissipating qualities. Moreover, the emission of the angel hair has also occurred over several cities of the United States in the late 1960s and early 1970s and it seems that the smaller disc-like objects can also produce similar effects.

UFO investigators specialising in “angel hair cases” advise that we should not think of this substance as hair lightning – nor are we to entertain the rather ludicrous notion that high-flying (wind borne) spiders were responsible for the strands as was asserted by several non-believers in the press. But, on the other hand, one must say that this sperm of the gods appears to be just as elusive as the chariots they drive. For, to date, no one has produced a sampling of either for scientific analysis.

Of course, any discussion of the “motherships” would be terribly incomplete without mention of the “great airship flap” that swept the USA just before the turn of the century (1895-97). Apparently, these “antique UFOs” also emitted bright light beams and were piloted by both normal-sized human-like entities and a smaller variety which are often called humanoids. Many saucer experts tend to lay a great deal of emphasis on these sightings; (13) and, although it seems perfectly obvious that such airships were almost exactly like the anticipated method of conquering the sky during the era some saucer enthusiasts tend to see them as a sort of alien introductory model.

The implication is, of course, that the extraterrestrials are so intelligent and considerate that they were conditioning us earthlings to their presence by promoting the shape of things to come. The problem with this line of thought is, quite naturally, that the aliens failed to anticipate that airships were not to be this planet’s sky kings in spite of their superior technology and intellect. In short, the ufonauts and most earthlings of that time period suffered from a very serious kind of techno-myopia and it was only a few far-sighted fellows like the Wright Brothers who were soon to develop and launch the better idea.

Ironically, if we search the 1890s airship flap data we will discover only one reported UFO configuration vaguely resembling a contemporary aircraft or an early glider-like contraption, even though much glider experimentation was occurring in the United States and Europe during that period.

Obviously, the human expectations of the times regarding manned flight involved the lighter-than-air airship simply because most people, including the lead-ing writers and scientists of that era, tended to believe that anything heavier than air could not possibly fly. Apparently, this ancient desire to see the phallic airship in the skies was pushed well into the 20th century and even finds some very serious proponents today. (14)

One is compelled to think that it is not that the airplane isn’t a truly marvellous invention, for it most certainly is, but there is something awesome and captivating about the mere sight of great airships just as there is something truly unique about the sensation of soaring in a glider.

Dare we suggest that it feels more like the man himself is flying – rather than riding in an engine-powered machine which is being thrust about the sky. Moreover, can we seriously entertain the thought that this “soaring feeling” satisfies one at a much deeper level, possibly a level which we have somehow lost touch with, but still yearn to experience?

For we know that man’s ancient fascination with flight and his dreams of flying under his own power has not been entirely lost to today’s technological advancements; for even in this age of supersonics and space shuttles we still find individuals gleefully leaping off the edges of cliffs while dangling on the flimsy wings of gliders; and more recently, there comes the news of the successes of a few diehards who have finally realised Leonardo’s dream of true man-powered flight.

One is compelled to think how wonderful this age truly is; the radio has fulfilled one of man’s oldest dreams (to send his voice across great distances); TV expands this dream come true and even allows him to see those distant places; while the telephone adds selectivity and privacy to the process. So, too, remarkable flying machines have shrunk the globe to a point where no place is very far away any more.

In addition to all of this, human organs are being transplanted, life spans prolonged, and several men have even walked upon the face of the moon. But, despite all these miracles and man-made wonders, we still wish to somehow escape this tiny planet with all its dreadful problems. On the conscious level, we seek tropical vacations to relieve the chilling effects of the stress loads we accumulate. Unconsciously, the “escape wish” takes on the fantasy of a flight from the oppressive weight of reality – and escape from the planet itself becomes desirable.

If the “escape/flight wish” should emerge in its “all-too-human form”, that is, as an archetypal symbol catapulted through the unconscious, the instincts and emotions, then man, the flyer (the phallic UFO), and not his contemporary aircraft would be the vision men see in the skies.

For the phallic UFO, which is the aerial extension of man’s inner being on the wing is what we mistakenly call the mother-ship. It is a primitive symbol in the technological guise of the times. This is as obvious a statement as that which is boldly proclaimed by the extended wheels which dart from between the legs of the motorcycle gang member, for his machine ‘comes off’ as being as much of an extension of his manhood as does the image he tries to project with his garb, body language and speech.

We also recognise that more sophisticated individuals express their manhood with far more socially acceptable symbols, such as the long hoods of expensive limousines and shiny sports cars. Yet, we fail to see that the phallic UFO is man, the dream flyer.

Undoubtedly, the sky cylinders are meaningful, for in ancient times they were thought of as gods. But we cannot prove that they mean exactly the same thing to men today. All we might cautiously consider about them is that this type of recurrently reported object may indicate that an archetypal symbol of cyclical, selective penetrating, threatening and/or directional potentiality is evident. (15) If we wanted to find a more familiar concept which touches on these potentialities, perhaps some of the characteristics attributed to the current Christian idea of God as the Third Person of the Trinity (the Holy Ghost) would fit quite well – especially since the Holy Ghost is said to be the conduit between heaven and Earth (or God and Man) and the method by which God implants His seed on Earth too. Something quite similar to the Roman god of healing, Mercury, or the Greeks’ messenger of the gods, Hermes.

We as people of this secular age fail to recognise this because we are not as tuned in to the archaic modes of mythological thought as our ancestors were. I think it would be reasonable to say that an ancient man of moderate intelligence and educational background would have had little or no difficulty in the assimilation of this type of vision, for visions of this sort were prayed for and fully anticipated in their times.

What’s more, if our minds were so conditioned through a kind of mental reverie built up over generations of relative unchange, as were our ancestors’, then the modern day visions would be read without much difficulty too. But today’s man is living in a time of tremendous uncertainty and fear caused by volatile social transition, mounting political, economic and intellectual turbulence, along with fantastic technological advancement. Indeed, in a generally “non-spiritual” but, nevertheless, so-called “enlightened age” when even the most brilliant of theologians tend to ignore and/or completely fail to interpret the signs that men are seeing in the skies.

To summarise, the god-ship UFO (a specific archetypal symbol) is reported to be the carrier, ejector and retriever of smaller UFOs. As if to suggest that, on the one hand, a complex nucleus is expelling some of its components (packets of power) or on the other, is absorbing additional energy.

Our search of the reports gathered and investigated by UFORIC probers and that of “the good UFO literature” indicates that, generally speaking, many smaller objects are expelled or disbursed; but only one or two seem to be recovered, if any at all. This may be an important psychodynamic display, for it illustrates that the energy levels are being spent, reduced, or divided as we have proposed by describing the Dynamic Display as psychically therapeutic.

The UFO sightings and the elation factor

UFOs perform all sorts of marvellously preposterous feats – they wobble, spin, glide, and flit about at blurring speeds. They perform bug-like aerobatics, hover, blink off, blink on, and then completely vanish before one’s eyes. They apparently do not behave in a logical manner while operating; but yet, they manage to elude capture, overt contact attempts and our most sophisticated aircraft.

Through a marvellous mixture of sensory stimulation and emotional responsiveness, they tend to excite and delight us because they routinely overcome the obviously threatening, and make a mockery of statistical probability. In short, they either beat or cheat the odds each and every time.

They are, quite simply, a joy to behold and provoke very powerful emotions in their observers; for, not only are they consciously perceived, but they are also “unconsciously recognised” as the observer’s fears problems on display. Most importantly, these problems (as symbols) are shown to be overcome, split up, or reduced in power, perhaps this is why some adult UFO witnesses proclaim that ‘their’ UFO sighting somehow changed their lives – although they haven’t the foggiest idea why they feel that way about it, while, on the other hand, some youthful witnesses often say that their sightings seemed too much like a fantasy (which is, of course, a process of active imagination that has not yet been educated out of them or lost to the advancement of the ageing process); and they, too, would really like to know exactly what they did observe.

Artist's impression of a 'mothership' launching UFOs

And finally…

This cursory probe into the probable meaning behind the observation of the cylindrical type of UFO still falls far short of what is required, for it has only touched upon that fact that the symbol, whatever it finally represents in consciousness, is only one side of its potentiality, for all psychical symbols are two-sided and extraordinarily multi-faceted.

However, the symbol is not ‘complete’ at its source; in fact it is not an image at all, but rather only the potential of one that develops, much like a photo negative as it moves into the light of consciousness. And it is in consciousness that a person’s need to find some relief, a saviour or mentor – or conversely their fears of meeting with the very devils that are tormenting them – may become affixed to any kind of strange occurrence like rumours about the appearance of UFOs in the sky. It is because of this all-too-human factor that UFOs become endowed with all sorts of awesome, miraculous and magical powers.

Perhaps we have discovered enough about the mythical, sexual, and marked psychic background of the god-ships to determine that their origin is most likely the human unconscious, and not some alien planet situated at the edge of the cosmos. For it seems highly unlikely that a visiting alien intelligence would be so human-like as to possess similar intrapsychical processes regarding the development of their technology, their exploratory aspirations, and their myth-making tendencies.

It also appears that, while we may have been actively seeking a better understanding of some aspect of the UFO phenomenon’s interaction with humankind while examining the god ship legend, we probably have uncovered a great deal more about humankind’s projection upon the rumours of UFOs appearing in our skies.

This type of human interaction with the UFOs is ‘a reality’ – whether or not UFOs (i.e., extraterrestrial space craft) actually exist and are visiting our planet.



  1. Dr Carl C. Jung Informs us that the Berliners call the motherships “Holy Ghosts”, while the Swiss military have managed to came up with a much more earthy description for the spherical objects they emit.
  2. Early Christian carvings often portrayed the Trinity as a thrice-phallus.
  3. The phallus is still an object of veneration in some areas of Japan.\
  4. Faaius Cardan – father of mathematics and philosopher, Pierre Cardan, as reported by Dr Jacques Willis in his book on UFOs, Passport to Magonia.
  5. In ancient Greece, a stone herm (or psycho-pomp) was often placed at crossroads symbolising the god’s role as a mediator between the spiritual and physical worlds.
  6. UFO light beam and propulsion emissions are often said to produce burning effects upon the faces, hands and arms of the observers. In some cases, the skin appears as if sunburned – while in other instances the skin just feels hot to the observer and no siscolouration is apparent.
  7. The UFO Report and Information Center of Philadelphia founded by the author and his wife (operational from 1972 to 1980)
  8. A commonly reported characteristic of UFO flight behaviour.
  9. This may be similar to the ring of skin eruptions that formed in the general area of Barney Hill’s groin after he and his wife, Betty, had a close encounter with a UFO in 1981.
  10. Mrs Fiagg’s physician thought she had the Hong Kong flu, but Mrs Flagg dismissed his diagnosis entirely.
  11. The big three could be the USA, USSR and Red China.
  12. The author is currently probing this aspect of UFO experiences.
  13. There is a popular trend in ufological thought which embraces the notion that the UFO operators have had an active influence on the advancement of human spiritual and/or technological development.
  14. The Piasecki Aircraft Company of Philadelphia was developing a helistat for forestry use by the Department of the Navy in the mid-1970s. It consisted of a central gas bag and four modifiedhelicopters for load lift and propulsion. The project was scrapped when the test vehicle crashed and its pilots were killed.
  15. Dr Sigmund Freud effectively demonstrated that any pointed object appearing in a dream may take on phallic significance. But it was Dr Carl C. Jung who first noted that the phallic symbol had significance beyond the sexual.


ALNOR, W.M., UFOs in the New Age , Banker House Company, Grand Rapids, Mich., 1992
DIONE, R.L., God Drives a Flying Saucer, Bantam Books, New York, NY, 1973
EVANS, H., Gods, Spirits, Cosmic Guardians, Aquarian Press, UK, 1987
EVANS, H., Alternate States of Consciousness, Aquarian Press, UK, 1989
GRAEBER, M.J., ‘UFO sightings as ‘vision-like experiences” which may produce beneficial effects on the observer(s)’, AASMI Conference, 1991
JESSUP, M.K., UFO and the Bible, Citadel Press, New York, NY, 1956
JUNG, C.G., Symbols of Transformation, The Bollingen Foundation, New York, NY, 1956
JUNG, C.G., Flying Saucers a Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky, Rascher & Cie, Zurich, 1958
JUNG, C.G., Synchronicity, An Acausal Connecting Principle, The Bollingen Foundation, New York, NY, 1960
LE POER TRENCH, B., The Sky People, Award Books, New York, NY, 1960
McCULLY, R.S., Jung and Rorschach, Spring Publications, Dallas, Texas, 1987
SALISBURY, Frank B., The Utah UFO Display: A Biologist’s Report, Devin-Adair, Old Greenwich, Ct., 1974
SPRINKLE, R.L., ‘Psychological implications in the investigation of UFO reports’, in LORENZEN, L.J. and C.E., Flying Saucer Occupants, Signet, New York, pp 160-186,1967
SPRINKLE, R.L., ‘Psychical analysis of UFO experiences’, International Symposium on UFO Research, Denver, Co., 1992
VALLEE, J., Passport to Magonia, Henry Regnery Company III., 1969



Strange Awakenings. Keith Basterfield

MUFOB, new series 13, Winter 1978/9


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Jenny Randles has some more cases of curious awakenings HERE


Off Limits; Ufology and the Deconstruction of Reality. Peter Rogerson

From Magonia 30, August 1988

When I wrote my column ‘Northern Echoes’ to mark the 20th anniversary of MUFORG two years ago l practically wrote the obituary for ufology. Recent developments show that this, like so many such laments, was premature.

There is, I think, a growing separation between the revived ‘folklore’ of ufology, and the views of ‘serious ufologists’. The folklore is one of secrecy, hidden things and duplicity.

Two recent books, [1,2] have brought home to British ufologists one of the major themes of American saucer ufolklore – the Great Conspiracy/Crashed Saucer Saga. Pages of print are devoted to the minute discussion of governmental ephemera and pseudo-ephemera. Clearly the mental climate of Irangate and Spycatcher holds sway here.

The message is ultimately reassuring – Big Daddy in the White House (or Mummy at No. 10) do know what is going on, even if they do not tell us children – after all, we might panic or loose our innocence. The Freudian symbolism is too obvious to count on: parental figures are not letting us in on the truth about alien intruders like foetuses hidden in secret places.

The tellers of the crashed saucer tales clearly gain kudos: they are an elite, They know where Mummy and Daddy have hidden the Christmas presents, and where babies come from. They are children who have gained a toe-hold in the world of grownups. This is maturity of protected innocence, where the grownups may take over again. Like the children in Lord of the Flies, they still believe grownups to be wise, calm, a all-knowing and protective. There is a fall from innocence still to come.

This fall is perhaps best expressed in the folklore of the abductee, which is just part of the folklore of the secret victim. Budd Hopkins’ book [3] deals with ultimate fears. Children taken from their homes, experimented on, tagged like animals; women made pregnant by aliens; changeling children taken away but returning in dreams. These are the themes of fairylore, before fairylore was domesticated and made safe for the nursery. [4,5]

The Terror comes into a child’s bedroom – visitors from that first Wilderness, the dark place under a child’s bed, or the closet in the corner [6]. Kathie Davis’s son Robbie has a night-terror: “Mummy, a man with a big head came in my wall and went into my closet and kept going back and forth and wouldn’t let me move. And he had lights around his head. The man wanted Tommy, Mummy, he wouldn’t let me move”. [3, p.75]

This for Hopkins is good evidence, the best spectral evidence we can have for alien abductions. Other adults would use the same narrative as good evidence for rings of satanic child abusers:

“He was afraid to go to bed and I asked him why. He said ‘Because of the spiders’. I said ‘C’mon, there are no spiders under there’ and he said ‘Oh yes there are, the man down the street told me there are’. I said ‘What man?’ and he said ‘The man who ties me up and puts me in the closet’” [7]

Similarly we may recall the accounts of those who have had childhood fears of haunted houses and ‘not-quite-right’ rooms, told to Andrew MacKenzie. [8]

For just how easily the categories of abduction and child abuse can run together, take this story from a recent issue of the Observer [9]. A fifteen year old black girl disappears for a few days, and reappears in a small town in New York. She is covered in dog faeces and racist graffiti, and tells a tale of abduction and rape by white men in a black car, like the ones MIB use. But there is no physical evidence, her schoolbooks mysteriously reappear at school; perhaps she has just been hiding in a former flat. And yet… all the old Travis Walton questions come back again. She now refuses to speak, and the case has become a racial and political cause célebre.

Here we have echoes of children taken by the fairies or the gypsies or the spirits of the far forest. In Japan this was known as a kamiga-kushi, or abduction by a kami. A boy or young man would disappear from his home, and was believed carried off by a supernatural being to its own realm. Upon the recital of appropriate spells the abductee would reappear days later in some inaccessible place, such as the eves of a temple or the cramped space between the ceiling and roof of his own home. He would lie for days in a stupor, and afterwards may always remain a halfwit. But he may recover to tell of a tall stranger or strangers with gleaming eyes in the form of a mountain sage, or of a flight in the sky, of visions of the Great Wall of China or visits to the sun, moon, or underground passages and caves. At first he may have enjoyed the flight, but later would ask to go home, whereupon he was deposited where he was found. [10]

The myth of the secret victim then has its premise that the most vulnerable are never safe. That we or our children can be taken from the security of the home: that all the while their parents are watching TV in the lounge, Jimmy and Susan upstairs are victims of nameless outrage, that mummy and daddy, secure in the safety of their electric light complacency, know nothing of. Only the specialist, a Budd Hopkins or a Marietta Higgs, by discerning secret stigmata, can uncover the horror.

The folklore tells us that no-one and nowhere is safe from the exotica, not even our own bodies. Hopkins tells us that aliens can take liberties with us, rape us, make us pregnant, steal our babies, implant strange devices in us, like some animals in a zoo. All in secret. The reduction to ‘thing’ status, the humiliation, even such details as Whitley Strieber’s anal rape, can be paralleled in tribal initiation rituals – note also the recent controversy over initiation rituals in the army.
This is the liminal realm, the place of reversals – the wild woman who rides the captive male [see also 11], or the pattern of opposites encountered by Strieber (individual/collective, human/insect, male/female, etc.)

This is what an Amerindian shaman called ‘the space of death’ – the underworld, the zone of visions and communications between natural and supernatural beings: putrefaction, rebirth, death, genesis. This space of death Michael Taussig [12] compares with the concentration camps of Chile and Argentina: the places where the ‘disappeared’ are, as true abductees, taken at night by overwhelming force, reduced to a ‘thing’ status, subjected to inhuman ordeal, and pounded down to abject helplessness.

What horrifies about Hopkins’ aliens is not that they are alien (interbreeding with a true alien is, of course, a total biological absurdity) but that they are us. They are neither benevolent or malevolent, they are ‘just doing their job’, doing ‘what is best in the long run’. Their alienness lies in their denial of humanity, to themselves, and to, the patients/victims as they reduce them to client/experiment status.

The ‘glacial indifference’ of the alien who takes Kathie’s baby and her screams of rage remind me of nothing so much as the final scene of the famous 1960′s TV drama Cathy Come Home (nice coincidence of names there!), where the social workers, with icy indifference, remove Cathy’s children through her screams, because it is ‘for the best’.

However, there are situations where a howl of pain and rage is the only appropriate and healthy response. Kathie’s howl of rage when the aliens came for her child: “I screamed (don’t take my baby] at them… and the fucker looked surprised”, does not disturb in the same way as the following account from Kenneth Ring:

‘A woman had a NDE during childbirth and encountered a being of light who said he had come for her child. She felt joy that her child had been selected and grief stricken that she had no child to give. She had a vision of doctors weighing the life span of the baby on a machine which read 80 years. But the being said the machine was faulty and the baby would only live for a few days. She forgot this until the baby did die, when she felt no grief, only joy.’ [My synopsis, PR]

The beings from Magonia, the exotics, the forces of wild nature, must be offered something of ourselves, our own future, our own vulnerability, in the hope that they will be a little less wild, a little less indifferent.

Like Lady Gregory’s Visions and Beliefs, reading the works of Budd Hopkins is a searing experience, like standing before a furnace of pain. This is the folklore of humanity in extremis, messages from the spaces of death, the landscape of fear, the realm of total impossibility.

Yet an escape route is offered from this realm; one can see it in these narratives. At the very least they hint at a new race – ‘dark they are and golden eyed’ – waiting in some Magonia offstage. There is more than a hint of the Christ Child in the manger in some of these ‘wise baby’ narratives. Are the abductee women to be the parents of some messiah growing under alien skies; their suffering a mark of supernatural grace? The abductees may be given supernatural powers and gifts which catapult them from the realm of absolute impossibility to that of absolute possibility.

This is the realm of the charismatic urban shaman; the contactee. The image of the contactee has begun to make a comeback. Billy Meier is a typical example [14], on fire with the energy of creation and destruction. Like H P Blavatsky [15], L Ron Hubbard [16] or Tony Wedd [17], he creates not only for self expression, but for power.

The manipulation of fictional characters can never satisfy, only the deconstruction and reconstruction of reality as a gigantic novel, with themselves as grand hero and all the rest as cardboard sidekicks. Meier uses his modelling abilities as Hubbard did his writings, to impose power over others – the more ridiculous the charade and the more self-important the victim the better. The parallel with the ‘Psychic Questing’ episodes are clear. The urban shaman can escape from powerlessness by the radically dissocialising identification with the limitless power and total freedom of wild nature. The shaman seeks to ride this power, to harness it. If he fails the grim fate of Louis Riel beckons. [18]

The abductees may rarely reach such heights, but most have experimented spontaneously, with what many societies seek to recapture by ritual and pharmacology – at least enough to know that fairyland was never a place where ‘gentle folks and graceful fairies dance` [19], but rather a place of dead babies and lost women.

When ‘Valerie of Peckham’ sees a star and reports it as a UFO, it is a kind of revelation, a seeing for the very first time

The average run-of-the-mill UFO experience of course, does not have this power. But when ‘Valerie of Peckham’ sees a star and reports it as a UFO, it is a kind of revelation, a seeing for the very first time. She is seeing the world without our usual mental maps. A logical chain of thought is set up which runs

“I would not feel like this is I were looking at a star, but I might feel like this if I were looking at a spaceship, therefore probably I am looking at a spaceship”

These logical chains are in psychological terms ‘secondary delusions’, attempts to rationalise the primary sense of ‘otherness’ and uncanniness. There is a stripping away or shift of meaning of perception. The percipient is momentarily lost in a wilderness of raw perception, bereft of the normal psycho-social maps. [20]

It is not surprising that percipients resist ‘rational explanations’, for such explanations do not correspond with the percipient’s own experience. Valerie knows that it was not a star she saw. Any map, however defective, is better than no map at all.

The dominant folklore in British ufology at the moment appears to be Earthlights or Spook lights. The powerful appeal of this concept lies in its romantic roots. It is a folklore of open spaces, where tales still survive of the eerie secrets of wild nature, before TV and streetlights robbed them of their wonder. It remains a useful antidote to the rather theory-bound nature of much ufology, which carefully screens itself from raw narrative behind masses of computerese and pseudoscience.

On the other hand the Earth Lights hypothesis seems to combine reductionism and romanticism in equal amounts. There is implicit in some of the arguments of Persinger et al, a view of social phenomena which seeks to explain them in terms of physical, environmental factors. One writer – I forget who – tried to ‘explain’ the 1906 Liberal landslide in terms of sunspot activity. This can lead to arguments of the type ‘If it wasn’t for the lead in petrol our children would be nice and docile’, which can easily develop into more sinister lines.

And is not the Romantic view of the past expressed in this lore, close to the ‘preserve the dark satanic mills’ type of heritageism which blocks out the reality of past pain and suffering? I note particularly how in his treatment of the Pendle witches, David Clark subsumes the reality of social strife and persecution into a landscape romanticism, by projecting terror from the human community onto the wild landscape.

There is within Devereux’s presentation a hidden agenda. Many people have criticised his ideas about mental manipulation of subtle energies as seriously detracting from an otherwise ‘reasonable’ theory. But is not the manipulative claim close to the heart of this ideology? This is what transforms the percipient from being a helpless victim of environmental or social forces, into a manipulator, an artist on a grand scale, sculpting the landscape, exercising his will over wild nature. One up on Billy Meier indeed!

Is there not in psychosocial ufology, too, something of this? A determination to assert the autonomy, self-reliance and creativity of human beings against the bleak, impersonal forces of the cosmos, and much of our society. Does not the idea of the alien encroaching on human affairs imply a gigantic ‘no say’, an arbitrary veto on human possibilities.

We can thus see that ufological folklore oscillates between visions of human helplessness before a limitlessly powerful ‘other’, and visions of limitless power and individual creativity.

Ufologists will have to be very careful how they handle this folklore. Perhaps accepting that they are folklorists, recorders of stories – and not freelance geophysicists, intelligence agents or psychiatric social workers – will be the first step on the road to wisdom.



  1.  GOOD, Timothy, Above Top Secret; the world-wide UFO cover-up. Sidgewick and Jackson, 1987.
  2.  RANDLES, Jenny. The UFO Conspiracy; the first 40 years, Blandford, 1987,
  3.  HOPKINS, Bud. Intruders. Random House, 1987.
  4.  BIGGS, Katherine. The Vanishing People, Batsford 1978.
  5.  GREGORY, Lady. Visions and Beliefs in the West of Ireland, Colin Smyth, 1976.
  6.  ’Wilderness Under Daddy’s Bed’, quoted in NASH, Roderick, Wilderness and the American Mind, Yale, 1982.
  7.  RAPPLEYE, Charles, ‘Satanism and Child Abuse’, in Fate, April 1987.
  8.  MacKENZIE, Andrew, The Seen and the Unseen, Weidenfeld, 1981.
  9.  PYE, Michael, ‘When the Victim Refuses to Speak’, The Observer, 1 May 1988, p.35.
  10.  BLAKE, Carmen, ‘Other World Journeys in Japan’, in DAVIDSON, Hilda R G, The Journey to the Other World, D S Brewer for the Folklore Society, 1975.
  11.  DAVIS, Natalie Zemon, ‘Women on Top; symbolic sexual inversion and political disorder in early modern Europe’, in BABCOCK Barbara, A Reversible World; symbolic inversion in art and society, Cornell U. P., 1978.
  12.  TAUSSIG, Michael, Shamanism, Colonialism and the Wild Man, University of Chicago Press, 1981.
  13.  RING, Kenneth, Heading Towards Omega; in search of the meaning of the near-death experience, William Morrow, 1984,
  14.  KINDER, Gary, Light Years, Atlantic Monthly Press, 1987.
  15.  MEADE, Martin. Madame Blavatsky, the woman behind the myth. Putnams, 1980.
  16.  MILLER, Russell, Bare-faced Messiah; the true story of L Ron Hubbard. Michael Joseph, 1981,
  17.  HESLETON, Philip, Tony Wedd, New Age Pioneer, Northern Earth Mysteries, 1987.
  18.  FLANAGAN, Thomas. Louis ‘David’ Riel; prophet of the New World, Goodread Biographies, 1983.
  19.  VALLEE, Jacques, Passport to Magonia, Regnery, 1969.
  20.  REED, Graham, The Psychology of Anomalous Experience, Houghton Mifflin, 1974.
  21.  ‘Illusion des soises’, in which friends and relations, though perceived as being physically identical, are not perceived as being ‘really’ that person, but viewed as though they were a double or changeling.