Languages of Light: Studies of Contemporary Encounters with Anomalous Light Phenomena (ALP)

The following collection of reports differ from both UAP encounters and Near Death Experiences (NDEs) in that they are seemingly disconnected from any visible source, occur mostly indoors, and are, crucially, linked with the percipient’s emotional and mental state. We will address experiences that may be included under a general family resemblance called Anomalous Light Phenomena (ALP).

Except for a few instances, they include no reference to anything other than a spiritual presence. We will be concerned with contemporary accounts of unexpected encounters with what appear to be supernatural lights. These events, however, share a resemblance in that illumination itself is used to convey a message. This similarity is discernable through the events’ effects on the witness.

This subset of ALP, like many of the close-encounter UFO interactions, have components that flout our subjective/objective and physical/mental boundaries. As we’ll see, they very often occur at times of crisis or transition in a person’s life—and also very frequently have positive aftereffects.


To date, there have been only two large studies of what we could strictly call “encounters with unusual or anomalous illumination”: the books Lightforms by Mark Fox and Light Changes: Experiences in the Presence of Transforming Light by Dr. Annekatrin Puhle.[2]

These books treat two independent data sets consisting of firsthand stories. Fox’s data derives from Sir Alistair Hardy’s Religious Experience Research Center (RERC). Puhle’s analysis was the result of historical research and a personal solicitation to friends and the public for such experiences. 

Both, to the best of these investigators’ abilities, eschewed reports of strange lights in the sky, straightforward NDE accounts, or any in which mental illness was indicated. 

Puhle’s survey of over 800 self-reported incidents presented positive transformations in personality in a majority of the cases.[3] Mark Fox’s analysis of the RERC database revealed a structure: 

-personal crisis

-tipping point

-anomalous light experience

-“positive fruits,” that is, a spiritual transformation or improvement in the quality of the percipient’s life.

This occurred in a majority of the cases he studied.[4] Half the total experiences involved this structure. 

Annekatrin Puhle’s separate survey found the same distribution of, as she put it, 

-life crisis

-light intrusion

-psychological transformation.[5]

Fox concludes that NDEs involving the “dark tunnel with a distant light” or NDEs that take place in “light-worlds” should be considered a subset of ALP; that is, people with no imminent mortal threat to their lives account for the vast majority of light-form encounters, many which nevertheless portend a sort of egoic, but not physical, death.[6]

Fox points out that there is no “cultural contamination” present in the RERC cases—that is, there is no priming knowledge which could have led the percipients to expect such specific experiences, beyond historical-religious light accounts. Hardy’s RERC database was compiled prior to Raymond Moody’s first book Life After Life, which introduced many of the NDE-ALP features to audiences worldwide.[7] The RERC stories constitute a database of very similar experiences that is independent of Moody’s collection and the NDE studies that came after.[8]

Fox and Puhle found it difficult to categorize their databases (the light’s shape? Intensity? Color? The experience’s context? Situations in which the lights appeared? The after-effects?, etc.), and it is difficult to further summarize their material here, but I shall try. 


Here are some of the many structures which light experiences may take. All quotations preserve the syntax and spelling in the original reports:

-The light may be encountered as a ray or “stream” that is localized in space near the percipient: 

One evening, whilst sitting alone in our London flat, after having dined (but not wined) I was reading a book of R. Tagore, when I suddenly began to have what I can best describe as a great upsurge of feeling, which made me put my book down and listen very intently. Then I remember standing up, and realizing how clear and bright everything seemed around me. I was very elated and light in myself, and then the atmosphere seemed sort of electric and charged with suspense; then I became conscious of this strong visual sensation of a very fast flowing current, or stream of light, way out above me and beneath that a second stream narrower, but flowing in the same direction, with a gap between them. It seemed that I then cognized that the slower and smaller current somehow, symbolically represented my own life stream. Everything was very silent and intense, and I remember feeling extremely peaceful. After this there came this very strong physical sensation, as if I was sort of taken out of myself, turned around (or inside out) and was facing myself, but was being carried along in the direction of the smaller stream that was above me, but below the main stream. Like me on two levels, but facing each other and in some way connected. It is very difficult, practically impossible, to describe such a unique and physical experience. All I knew was it was a gripping reality. All the time there was this great intensification of light and energy and outline of objects in the room, and this wonderful feeling that I had somehow become a part of everything, and attached to something. At the same time I realize that strength and understanding were being given to me together with this new direction I seem to be flowing in. Eventually I felt a settling down and acceptance of what was happening, and after quite a few hours went to my bedroom thinking to get some sleep and rest, but those two streams seem to follow over and above me wherever I went, and the conviction that I would never truly be alone again came very forcefully (and it has always remained) as had a memory of that strange but funny two levels, inside out, sort of sensation, which still comes to me if I am thinking intensely or with a lot of people under pressure. Eventually I suppose I got some sleep, but next morning it was still a very gripping reality, and I could not settle to anything so I remember thinking I would go for a walk and see what happened, but it still all went with me. This lightness, and I felt so free and ridiculously happy and excited. I cannot think looking back on it how one behaved outwardly as usual, but that was the strange thing about it all it all seems so natural. The next day I had to go back to my family in the country and keep this enormous secret to myself (there when years to come my daughters all said they had about that time noticed an enormous change in me). [9]

-Sometimes it is a ray that their consciousness may enter, causing a cascade of “information” or images. A 53 old year woman describes how one day:

I was aware of knowing I had access to knowledge, that the answers were there and available to me. I was conscious of a sense of tranquility through some sort of inward strength…Through an upstairs window (of my old Georgian house) I was vividly aware of an image of strong white light stretching into the far distance between two straight lines—it could almost be described as a shaft of dazzling brightness, but it didn’t seem to get any narrower as it went out of my sight. There was no movement in it, it was more like a straight road of blinding white light and with the image of it came the feeling of a new dimension of perception through which I could have confidence in my intuition, and through which I should see everything more clearly. I think I remember thinking this is what people experience when they try to explain why they have a certain unshakable faith through a religious experience, but that was certainly not the form my “enlightenment” was taking…It was as if order was being created out of chaos in some part of my mind, then how soon I can’t remember I found my head was crowded with startlingly clear pictures of places and events and people. It was as though floodgates had opened on a vast store of forgot memories. One realized suddenly that, after all, one had both a vivid imagination and a good memory. Coupled with all this and controlling it all was the strong feeling of having a creative urge to write using all this fascinating and unfamiliar material which seemed to want to flow out of my mind. Strangely it all seemed bottled up somewhere under my diaphragm! It was all too new to me to want to do anything except enjoy it and to try to make some sort of pattern from the myriad pieces. At the same time it was all familiar as if I knew that this was the natural outcome of all my reactions and impressions throughout my life…The next day I felt very uplifted in spirit, not unlike being inebriated or perhaps having the unexpected news of a large inheritance. [10]

-Some rays of light (nearly all described as golden in color) “pierce” the person, causing an influx of light and the appearance of “supernatural” beings:

After receiving the sacrament, I went back to kneel in my pew. I became aware of a golden ray of light coming down directly at me. It flooded my whole being so utterly that I felt split into millions of atoms, as if each atom was surrounded by this golden light… Like being infiltrated by it. I no longer felt as a body of flesh but as if this “is” and not me, and yet I “am” too for I can feel it glowing as if with a living warmth. I looked up the length of lights and saw at the top what appeared to be a concentrated mass of itself with about a dozen people standing within. The position of this group was at about half the height of the church and slightly to the right… As if not to disturb anything going on at the main altar. I went up the path of light. This “concentration” at the top seemed to hide and blur those in the group so that I could not identify anyone. I was given to know that they are enfolded in the Love of God, that this is their life force; for a brief moment I felt this too as something indescribably intense and lovely; & it was gloriously beyond my capacity to have imagined, and not of this earth. I came back suddenly to kneeling in my pew again. I should think only a few seconds of our time had elapsed.[11]

-A brightening or enhancement of intensity of the landscape (or an interior) where no known source of illumination could possibly have produced it, often accompanied by a sense of stillness and perception of the “inner workings” of the universe or expansion of consciousness. Here are two outdoor examples:

I was in the garden of my parents’ home in Sussex and aged 19 at the time. I was standing near the trunk of an oak tree looking down at a bank and the fresh green leaves of wild violets and other small plants on the ground. I was experiencing thoughts of joy and love towards all the small and great manifestations of nature around me in that quiet place. As I watched, there was quite quickly a silent change. I looked with astonishment at the leaves and blades of grass. They had taken on what appeared to be an internal light of their own. They shone with a quiet radiance, and so did everything within my field of vision. I stood dead still, not daring to move. I felt tremendously uplifted and thankful as I watched this extraordinary living light which seemed also to have gentle sounds associated with it. It was as if all my senses had suddenly become more acute and as if I could hear the leaves growing. I noticed that all the colours were enhanced and brighter, and more alive than normal. The impression received was that I was looking at something real and fundamental and not just imagined by me. I do not know whether it lasted for seconds or minutes before, equally without warning, everything quietly returned to the relative dullness of its material exterior.


I have had a few slight and perhaps doubtful psychic experiences but one was significant and very wonderful. During the war we were stationed at Laggan House, Ballantrae, Scotland. In August 1942 I had been in a darkish hut checking store inventories. I left the hut and walk down a drive with a double line of trees down each side. Halfway down the drive I became aware of the great beauty of the late afternoon scene. To my left was a fairly wide valley and then a hill. To my surprise the valley seemed quite quickly to fill with a great light, living iridescent rainbow coloured light. The phenomena was huge, towering in an oval form up into the sky. Its center was a living dense coloured gold, the colors got fainter to the edges, the whole was ringed with a cloud of silver white light…The “vision” provoked some very warm responsive feeling in me. It lasted some minutes then faded. It in no way disturbed me. It seemed quite natural.[12]

-On the other hand, sometimes a room can fade into a brilliance,[13] at times showing the percipient an Otherworld beyond:

In 1956 my oldest son was drowned at the age of five years. My love for him was the most wonderful thing in my life. Some few days after his death, in my great sorrow, I was sitting alone in the study of my mother’s house and I prayed to God with all my heart, to ask him, when so greater love existed between two people, to give me some sign of it being eternal and indestructible, as in fact I believed it to be. I also prayed strongly to my son to “go on” with his new life and not wait for me to join him. Suddenly I knew that he was standing beside me on the hearthrug, so strong with this feeling that I put my hands to my eyes as though to open them in an effort to see him. I was at once surrounded by such a feeling of peace and happiness that I had never known before or since. At the same time I felt myself lifted up from the chair and my body became quite weightless. Indeed, the walls of the room dissolved themselves and withdrew into the distance as though they were quite unreal like a stage set and my son stood at the end of a great lane of shimmering light with beautiful colors, leading into infinite space into another dimension which I felt was beyond my earthly eyes to see. It was, as though for a moment or two, I glimpsed the “other world” in which he now lived. At the same time I was in a way “sore afraid”. Far from vanishing instantly, this “vision” faded away very gradually and the walls and things in the room resumed their normal experience, and closing me once again into their narrow space and it only disappeared entirely on someone entering the room. I would like to say that what happened to me was entirely unexpected and I am convinced that it was no figment of my imagination. One extraordinary thing was the relation of “light,” the light in which I saw my son standing in the lightness (weightlessness) of my own body.[14]

A grieving widow recounted:

In the early part of 1943 I received a wonderful vision. I had gone to my bedroom and flung myself on the bed and I implored God, if there was a God, to give me a sign. And lo and behold I felt my neck being raised. My tears were streaming down for my eyes, and they were being wiped away. Then the four walls of the bedroom vanished, and in its place was a wonderful golden light such as I’ve never seen on earth. It so transported me that it has made a great difference to me all my life, for well-nigh forty years. So curious, the golden light has stayed with me. And in that golden light I saw five people. They were not angels; they were human beings, but recognized by me; just glorified human beings. And that wonderful vision has never left me. And though I did not see my husband I knew that he was in God’s hands.[15]

Time elongation or a sense of the absence of time often occurs in these experiences. For instance, a man wrote about an experience that occurred to him while a teenager:

At that time I was wont to spend much time by myself, introspectively. Many factors in my life contributed to this—tension between my father and mother, with me more or less forced to side with my mother out of fear of my father; problems with paying attention to my schoolwork related to the previous situation (I seemed to be emotionally preoccupied by it) and confusion within my first relationship with a girl. A greenstick fracture of the heart—as someone called it! Also, from my mother, I had found myself possessed of a deep interest in religious matters, in particular, the nature of Truth and Love and how to achieve onto them…So, on the day in point of remembrance, I was alone in unspoilt, wild, natural and open surroundings. At some point I felt the need of a rest. Throwing my bike into some heather I lay down, closed my eyes and began to lap up the warmth of the sun. There was no specific trigger for the experience that followed that I can recall other than the general disposition of my mind and the things it was preoccupied with. But it seemed as if I drifted out into some great light and became aware of some Being or presence which I call God. I found my awareness flooded, however, with a perfect and total realization of the interdependence of God in my Self. They were, in some absolute and imperative way, necessary to the existence of each other (The emotions that I felt were more of utter wonder & joy, amazement & delight). I do not think the time that elapsed during this experience, measured by the clock, could have been more than a minute, if that, but the vision that I had perceived encompassed an awareness of time and space like nothing I had known before…The realization was so strong that it stayed with me when I became aware once more of where I was.[16]

Beams of light may be connected with synchronicities.[17] 

-Some amorphous lights are identified as angels that appear in times of distress and deliver telepathic or audible messages while remaining unperceived by others in the vicinity.[18]

– Some are experienced as classic winged beings (angels)[19] or numinous humanoids who are described as angelic (as in the grieving widow’s account above).[20] Puhle includes an account of this latter kind, told to her by the granddaughter of a dying woman in Sweden:

…(the grandmother’s) goal now was to prepare herself for the journey into the next realm. She said she was ready anytime…She told me that she wanted to share a strange experience that she had been having since she had moved to the rest home. It is a fascinating and beautiful story.

Her first remark before she started her narration was, “I don’t expect anyone to really believe this, and I myself know that sounds impossible, but it is true and has happened four or five times to me. It is not the product of senility or delusions.” As I listened, I felt strongly that grandma Ruthie had experienced all that she was relating.

Three or four times a week, she was awakened by “something” in the early morning hours. She could see two figures standing at the foot of her bed who were dressed in white with a golden light around them. They introduced themselves as a brother and sister team. Their names were Sylvia and Edwin, they told her, and they made the nightly rounds of many hospitals and nursing homes to comfort, care for, and console any patient in need.

Grandma Ruthie sensed a deep feeling of peace and love as she looked and listened. These two “helpers” produced a cover of soft gossamer, a shining, gauzelike material, with which they wrapped any person who was lonely, cold, or unhappy. This material had no weight but was extremely warm and comforting. Within minutes, the patient was warm, dry, relaxed, and sound asleep. After waving goodbye with a smile and a “God bless,” Sylvia and Edwin went up four small steps and disappeared.

I had to ask, what happened to the sheer gossamer coverlet, and did the attendance and nurses notice it when they arrived in the morning? Grandma Ruthie’s answer was: “as morning comes and dawn breaks, the covers seem to disintegrate and are gone when they are no longer needed. Besides they wouldn’t be noticed by anybody who didn’t believe in these things and wouldn’t be looking for them.”

There is no doubt in my mind that it is all true. It wasn’t many weeks after our talk that she made her transition.[21]

-Lights that appear as diffuse clouds that are recognized via telepathic messages as that of the passed on:[22]

I remember waking up, and almost instantaneously, this amazingly bright blue-white light was hovering near the ceiling. It was a large oval shape, about 4 feet tall and 3 feet wide.

As I was looking at it, I was told telepathically that it was my maternal grandfather, who had just passed on to the next world. I remember thinking this was really strange because I had no idea he had been ill. In fact, I didn’t have any close association with this man. He was a little ornery and had a poor relationship with other members of the family.

The light lingered for a while, and after it left I looked at the clock and discovered it was 2:17 AM. Then I went back to sleep.

The following morning my sister knocked on my front door. I knew why she had come and said, “you came to tell me that grandpa died, didn’t you?” She looked puzzled and said, “mom called to tell us that he died of a heart attack at about 2:30 AM.” I said, “no it was 2:17 AM”, and I told her what had happened.[23]

Diffuse glowing clouds can also be interpreted as angels in the context of their occurrence in places of worship.[24]  

Sometimes the light form is sensed to possess intention or personality even though it has no humanoid shape[25]and may even audibly “speak”:[26]

At the time I was an active member and a cofounder of the only existing group in Austria of a spiritual community of American origin. As part of the annual activities the European representative, accompanied by some followers, visited for a weekend to celebrate together. It was during that visit, on this Saturday in May, that the event occurred.

The morning celebration over, I stayed to bring the room back into order: lining up chairs and picking up litter. The “vibration,” so familiar to me, commonly builds up during so-called “classes,” and was at the time exceptionally strong in the room. This enhanced my feeling of reverence to a level I had not experienced before.

Suddenly, a voice spoke to me unexpectedly, commanding me to take a picture of the room. The voice was clear and decisive. The words formed in my mind, which means it was not an audible voice. It would not have mattered in the least had it been an audible voice, as there was nobody else in the room. Nevertheless, the voice preferred internal communication, perhaps to avoid alarming me?

I argued impulsively with the voice that it did not make any sense for me to take a picture of a room with no one in it! I knew the room, why should I take a picture of it, I wondered? The voice did not give in, insisting I take a picture. This time I silently agreed. I went downstairs to my room to get the camera. Both on the way up and down I did not meet anyone, and somehow managed to not continue arguing with myself about the occurrence. I took the requested picture!… Click.

That weekend we took a lot of pictures, my then husband and I. With so much going on, I totally forgot to tell my husband, or anyone else, about the voice I’d heard. Some days later, the pictures came back from the shop. My husband and I looked through them, enjoying the memories of that special weekend. “What is that?” I asked, stunned by one of the pictures. It was the one the voice had requested me to take! It had an abnormally strong ray or beam of light made visible, the ray coming directly out of one of the portraits hanging on the room’s main wall – an image of the founder of our spiritual community, whom we affectionately referred to as our beloved “Daddy.”

The detailed memory of the coincidence returned. This light phenomenon made me tremble in awe, giving me goosebumps. Deep gratitude replaced my sense of shame at having questioned the voice. The weekend’s festivities have been officially dedicated to her Beloved Daddy. Was it his voice that had spoken to me?

It would be easy to try to rationalize this incredible light phenomenon away by arguing it could have been a technical glitch introduced during development. Examining the picture in detail and seeing how the light ray emerges out of the portrait, I came to the conclusion that this was definitely not a development error. How could one explain that I had heard a voice and then take a picture of a strong ray of light? I cannot prove it and don’t wish to either. I know what I felt and heard, and can see what the picture captured. The exceptionally high energy level in the room that day had become visible in the form of this incredible light ray. I am sure about it. It is my firm conviction that my deep reverence allowed me to receive the gift of this extraordinary experience.[27]

-At times they affect the percipient in ways analogous to or evoking the imagery in esoteric religious practices, such as this account from Puhle:

One evening, I wanted to go into my small room and was alarmed to see a bright figure with a curious, penetrating expression standing by the wall. It was white, and look like an angel. I was very frightened and went back to my son’s room and told him what I had seen. He went into the room to check if he could also see the apparition and told me I could go in without being afraid.

I did so, and saw that the angel stood at another wall. Its face was now veiled – making it look like a white disc – and I felt that this had been done to take my fear away. I lay down on my duvet and waited to see if this figure wanted anything from me. Then I saw that over my body, below my chest—about the level of the solar plexus and the heart chakra—a flower, a calyx similar to a tulip, had taken shape. The color was salmon-pink, and the tulip began to revolve faster and faster, spreading a pink light around the room. I assumed that this had something to do with the angel, since the whole room became pink. It was a small room and there was so much pink that I could not even recognize the edges of the furniture. This lasted for about 20 minutes, then I fell asleep. 

– Elisabeth Johnson, first-hand account, Gothenburg, Sweden 12 February 2008.[28]

-People experiencing a sense of love and help from the lightform that is inferred to cause sudden physical healing:[29]

Ten years ago I had a major operation and I had been warned that I would feel ill for a few days after. During the second night after the operation I was muttering to myself “I feel so ill – I feel so ill.” On opening my eyes I saw the ward doctor, night sister and nurses standing at the foot of my bed. I asked the doctor the time and was told it was 2:30 AM. I then said “I’m going to die, aren’t I?” but was assured by him that he had worked too hard to let me die now. This didn’t convince me, feeling so desperately ill, then I glanced at the corner of the ward and saw the most beautiful brilliant light I have ever seen—it was suspended from the ceiling about 6 feet long, about 3 feet wide. I couldn’t take my eyes from the sight–never have I seen anything so beautiful. Such a bright soft light and somehow so comforting. I couldn’t find any particular shape–no figure–yet I am absolutely certain that I was dying at that time and that it was God who had shown himself to me. When the surgeon visited with me later that morning he was astounded to find such a great improvement after such a big operation. He always referred to me as his prize patient, but it’s my believe that God himself came and helped me through that dangerous time. When I was better I try to discover how the light was caused but could find nothing whatever. It was a visitation, of that I am convinced.[30]

Another healing account is this, from a 65-year-old woman who at the time of her experience was diagnosed with an incurable ankle ailment:

I was dumbfounded at…The prospect of walking about on sticks for ever perhaps, and so in my prayers each night and morning I included my left ankle, and to help things along, as I thought, I went down to Stokes Bay on every possible occasion to swim in the sea, where I would first swim for an hour or so, and afterwards relax in the chair in my Beach Hut and meditate.

After five months of this routine, and on the 15 October 1967, a most wonderful thing happened. After my swim and whilst relaxing and meditating with my eyes closed, I saw what seemed to be a round luminous, somewhat diffused light and a beautiful azure background approaching me, which disappeared on reaching my head. I opened my eyes and wondered for a while at the beautiful colors, but as I was beginning to feel cold I decided to get dressed, lock up and go home. You can imagine my great joy when I saw that there was no swelling, discoloration and no pain in my left ankle.[31]

In contrast there are a few without a “loving” aspect (in fact, inspiring fear) that one might say synchronistically presage the recovery of a sick person.[32]

Out of Body Experience (OBE)-like events in which the entire landscape is illuminated and show the experient parts of it unknown to them until they later explore them, like this example from the RERC database. It took place in 1933 to a woman who had suffered a miscarriage three months previously. Her feelings were near despair as she was walking down a country road. Then:

Suddenly I was enveloped (I can only call at that) and lifted high above the high bank and tall hedge on top, as though by unseen and unfelt hands, enveloped in a wonderful living brilliant light. I saw a small deserted quarry or cutting below, but everything, plants, bushes, even the stones on the far side were exuding a pulsating life and bathed in an unearthly bright golden light. It seemed an eternity I was held aloft with the most wonderful glow of peace and awareness of the wonder of God.

Then I finally found myself standing on the road and looked to see if anyone had seen me, it was so vivid, no one was in sight. I walked on to the shops, but with an unutterable feeling of peace within me. My longing for another child just disappeared.

A few days afterwards, as the bank and the hedge were too high to look over, I found by going up a side path I could look down, and it was as I had seen it, only the scene was just normal. We were newcomers to the area, and I had never wondered what was behind a high bank and hedge.[33]

-Lights that occur during OBEs associated with the passed-on:[34]

“Mrs. H. had OBE’s several times in her sleep. She was always aware that her body was lying in bed and that it was her mind or consciousness which was somewhere else. What makes the following case, reported to John Poynton, special is that it involves an experience she shared with her daughter. Both met when Mrs. H., the mother, was having an OBE while her daughter was dreaming. They found out about this nocturnal meeting when, two weeks after Mrs. H.’s OBE, her daughter related her dream to her:”

The experiences

The out of body experience, which my daughter and I shared, is actually centered on my cousin’s young son, who died unexpectedly when he was 20 years old. My daughter and James as we will call him, were not perhaps close friends, but that used to hang out occasionally.

My daughters room faced towards the door leading into my room, with the top of the stairway landing separating the rooms. In my experience, I stood beside my bed and I could hear my daughter talking to someone. It was the middle of the night and I knew nobody should be in my daughter’s room. I thought I was imagining things at first, then I heard my daughters voice again. I made my way over to my bedroom door and opened it. I looked into my daughter’s room. The door was open and the light was on. I entered her room and made my way over towards her bed. She was lying propped up with her pillows. I looked around her room to see whom she had been talking to but I could see nobody. I turned to my daughter and asked who had been in her room, as I had heard her speaking to someone. She replied she had been talking to James.

I knew she had been upset by the sudden death of James, so as gently as I could I explained that James was dead, and that she must have been dreaming and talking in her sleep. She denied this and said that James had told her that everyone thought he was dead but he wasn’t really dead; he was still alive. I was amazed when suddenly she shouted out into the empty room: “James, show yourself, it’s just my mum, you don’t have to hide from her.”

I stood for a few seconds after this outburst, wondering how to help my daughter to calm down. Just as I was thinking this, my eyes were drawn to the ceiling above the foot of her bed. What I saw was incredible. There were about five or six round, shining lights, all different colors, revolving around the ceiling. I had never seen anything so beautiful. The colors seemed so bright, as if they were alive. Tears streamed down my face as I repeated over and over to myself: “it’s true, it’s true, there is life after death.”

The following morning I woke up in bed, struggling to believe that this is been just a very vivid dream. It had all seemed so real. Eventually as the day wore on, the dream faded into the background, until eventually I stopped thinking about it. It was about a fortnight later when I was talking to my daughter that I was stunned when she related a dream that she had concerning James. I was even more amazed when she related the conversation I had with her in the dream and also the bright colors revolving around the ceiling. I asked my daughter (a few years later) to describe her version of the dream, and she agreed to do so. This is her version:

It happened about four years ago. It was a dream that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. My older cousin and I were friends, and his tragic death at 20 did upset me very much.

I wasn’t thinking about my cousin before I fell asleep that night, it was weird. It was a dream, but it felt so real. I was sleeping in my bed at my mother’s house, when my cousin came and sat down beside me on my bed, saying my name repeatedly until I awoke. When I eventually came around there were lights in my room and sitting there was my cousin. I got a fright and backed up against the wall. He was telling me: “it’s OK, it’s only me, don’t be scared, you know I’ll never hurt you.” It took me a while to take it all in, but when I did we started talking. I can’t remember all of the conversation, but I do remember him keeping telling me he wasn’t really dead, and I kept saying you are. But he insisted he wasn’t. My cousin was the first to realize my mom was coming. He quickly jumped up and said he had to go. I shouted: “don’t go. It will only be my mum, and she would like to see you”; but the lights just started fading. My mum walked in asking me whom I had been speaking to. I said my cousin’s name; she said: “don’t be silly, you’re only dreaming.” I kept telling her: “no he’s really here.” I shouted out his name, for him to show himself, and prove I wasn’t lying. A few seconds later lights started revolving at the top of the ceiling, at the bottom of my bed. I turned to my mum and said: “I told you so.” I can’t really remember what happened after that.

This dream haunted me until eventually I told my mum. When I did I was surprised to learn that she already knew what I was talking about. She told me that she had had the same dream. This spooked me, as I had never believed in the spiritual side, but now I’m not so sure. This was too much of a coincidence and it felt so real.

Letter from Mrs. H. to John Poynton, Paranormal review, issue 28, October 2003: 19–20.[35]

-Lights that induce, or are induced by, Out-of-Body Experience-like states:[36]

We were staying at a bed-and-breakfast in a little village of Altmuehltal in Bavaria. One morning I was like in bed, already lucid although I still had my eyes closed. I got this funny feeling again, which I have experienced several times before – a kind of tension all over the body, a kind of tingling or prickling. From my previously experiences I had learned that soon afterwards my body would lift up from the bed and I could steer the way I wanted to fly. I had even discovered that I could intensify this feeling of tension in order to start flying. On that particular morning I was curious as usual when I felt my body prickling, and very slowly I sat up in bed and leaned a bit forwards, in order to lift up. But this time I suddenly looked at my arms and hands and, to my great surprise, they were transparent and shimmering in golden light. The skin between the fingers look like webbings, and while wondering about all this, I awoke completely and found myself in the ordinary body lying in bed.

-Apparitions of living persons (possibly in a state of bilocation or undergoing OBEs) in which they appear temporarily in a darkened room that is yet still somehow illuminated during the event.[37]

-Unknown persons manifesting as increasingly bright forms to witnesses during “bedroom visitations.”[38] These don’t generally have the spiritual aspect (such as “angels” might) and may frighten the percipient:

This experience occurred in Hovalhof, a village in Westphalia, Germany.

I lived alone in a self-contained flat, over a bank. By day, meals were served there to a number of British soldiers and civilians, who were waited on by staff of German domestics, but by 10 PM, the last of the domestic staff left and any of the soldiers or civilians who remained were usually out by 11 PM… I was awakened from sleep by my left shoulder being shaken, it seemed to me, quite roughly. I set up in bed. The room was dark, but I could just see that somebody was standing at the foot of the bed. At first I assumed that it was a member of the domestic staff and I was puzzled at being woken in that manner and while it was still dark. I waited for the visitor to speak, and while I did so the figure became increasingly visible; it was a woman, hatless and with dark hair, and not anyone I recognized. Up to that time I still thought it was an ordinary person, but then the figure seemed to become gradually illuminated by an internal glow. It was not a glow as bright as when a hand is held around an electric bulb, and the illumination was yellow, rather like a luminous clock dial.

The features became quite clearly visible, the face seemed to be smiling and I could see the outline of the arms. From the start I had assumed that the visitor was a domestic which probably accounts for the fact that, in recalling the incident, I had the impression that she was wearing an apron, but I did not really notice the clothes. She slowly moved forward, her hand extended at arm’s length as though with the intention of shaking my left shoulder again. To move forward, she came around the bed as a tangible person would have done.

Suddenly, I became very frightened and tried to switch on the main light which was operated by a cord hanging down the wall behind my head, while at the same time moving away to my right to avoid the approaching figure. There was nothing menacing about the woman’s demeanor, in fact I had the impression all the time she was smiling. I groped about desperately with my left hand behind my head but I could not find the cord. So I moved around sideways in bed, put my right hand out, so they could lean on the floor, and managed to switch on the table lamp with my left hand. This lamp was to my right when I was in bed, but in the cross position to which I had now got, half out of bed, it was on my left. As soon as the light came on, the figure disappeared. The bedroom door was, as usual, shut.[39]

Conversely, they may provide a mysterious comfort:

I had been reading a chapter of a book, smoked half a cigarette and turning off the bedside lamp fell into a deep sleep. In the early hours of the morning I was having a very vivid dream which on reaching a climax I awoke with the sensation of an explosion in the head. On awakening I was inclining my head to the right side, the room was pitch black, I lay for some seconds in this position thinking over the dream. When turning my head to my left I was suddenly aware of a figure standing by the side of me. He was dressed in Royal Navy uniform, and would be about my own age at the time. The figure was a solid as any mortal except for the fact that he was surrounded by brilliant light, like the sun only it did not dazzle the eyes. Great waves of peace were emanating from this figure as he smiled down upon me, indescribable, I have never felt the like since…(after what) seemed an endless time the wonderful light surrounding the figure began to slowly change to the most magnificent colors, finally going to a deep purple, ever deeper the figure merging with the color and finally all merging into the night, once again leaving the room in pitch darkness…I remained sitting for perhaps half an hour thinking how marvelous it all was, then I lay down and slept till morning light.[40]

-Glowing crisis apparitions[41] of the type so abundantly investigated by the Society for Psychical Research (SPR) in the 1880s still appear to persons today. Here is a classic example from the SPR’s archives: 

The following case comes from Mr. Evans of Byron Cottage, Chalford, near Stroud, UK.

17 April 1884

In the fall of 1867, I took a trip to Canada, and one evening in the early part of October, that same year, I was sitting with a merchant of Toronto, in the dress-circle of a theater. During the evening my attention was attracted towards a portion of the pit which was, through shadow, slightly obscured by a face looking up at me in an intent, weird, and agonizing manner, that caused a feeling of awe to overpower me, as I recognized in the features my twin brother, who at that time was in China. The figure, although in shadow, appeared lighted up supernaturally, and revealed itself plainly, so that I could not be mistaken about the face. I instantly exclaim to my friend: “Good God! There is my brother,” pointing at the same time to the figure. He said, “I cannot see anyone looking up here.” However, I was so excited I rushed down to the pit where he stood, but could not see anyone resembling him in features whatever. I am not superstitious or a Spiritualist, but could not get over the startling circumstances for some time.

On my return home to England, shortly afterwards, much to my grief and sorrow, I found my brother had died at the French hospital, Shanghai, on 6 October, 1867.

I am prepared to make an affidavit that such are the facts.

J. Evans. (Gurney, Myers and Podmore volume two, 1886: 46)

-Light that appears to be an OBE-like manifestation, often witnessed by another person and recognized as the soul of a relative or acquaintance who is near death.[42]

-Glowing apparitions of long-deceased loved ones can appear in the darkened rooms at night, either as in their human form or amorphous clouds:[43]  

Some light experiences are associated with deceased individuals, and this is still quite common. Phyllis from Texas, a 40-year-old teacher, had a very special experience with Joshua, a boy who had been born with Downs syndrome and then died at the age of nine:

I had been taking care of Joshua in his home during the summer while I was going to school. He was severely retarded and physically handicapped. Then he went off to his school for handicapped children, and about nine months after that, he died in his sleep unexpectedly.

Three days later I was in my bedroom, and I suddenly became aware of a very bright blue and gold light of tremendous brilliance. There are no words in our language to describe these colors. A sense of the magnitude and beauty of this being was impressed on me by this light.

It became very clear that this was Joshua and he wished to send a message to his mother. His message was simply that he was very happy and free. Now he could laugh, now he could dance, and now he could sing!

When Joshua was sure that I had received the message in a telepathic way (to pass on to his mother), he was gone.[44]

Eleanor Sidgwick of the SPR published this case from 1878. The case involves two percipients: Mr. Jupp, a warden and his orphanage and a little boy he took care of, the youngest of six children. Mr. Jupp’s report records:

… I suddenly woke without any apparent reason and felt an impulse to turn around, my face being towards the wall, from the children. Before turning, I looked up and saw a soft light in the room…I turned round, and then a wonderful vision met my gaze. Over the second bed from mine, and on the same side of the room, there was floating a small cloud of light (about five inches high), forming a halo of the brightness of the moon on an ordinary moonlight night… In the bed, over which the lights seem to float, slept the youngest of the six children mentioned above (whose mother had died six months earlier)…

Having witnessed this, the Warden feels he is told to lie down and sleep. The following morning:

At 6 o’clock I began dressing the children…Presently I came to the bed over which I had seen the light hovering. I took the little boy out, placed him on my knees, and put on some of his clothes. The child had been talking with the others; suddenly he was silent, and then looking me hard in the face with an extraordinary expression, he said: “Oh, Mr. Jupp, my mother came to me last night. Did you see her?” For the moment I could not answer the child. I then thought it better to pass it off, and said, “come, we must make haste, or we shall be late for breakfast.”

I fear that anything the little boy might now say would be unreliable, or I would at once question him. Although the matter was fully discussed at the time, it was never mentioned in the hearing of the child, and yet, when at the request of friends the account was published in our little magazine, and the child read it, his countenance changed, and looking up he said: “Mr. Jupp, that is me.” I said “yes,” and he then seem to fall into deep thought, evidently with pleasant remembrances, for he smiled so sweetly to himself, and seem to forget I was present…[45]

-In a variant of the first case above, in which a message was to be passed to the grieving, an “unknown” radiant human apparition may ask a message to be passed on to a relative or friend of the percipient—but a person whose identity is only later verified by the targeted person.[46] Third-parties to a “target” individual as well can witness apparitions, visible healing energies, and pass messages onto the intended person:

In the 1930s my mother had an emergency operation in hospital. She was gravely ill for 2/3 days, then began to recover. A patient opposite in the ward spoke to her when she was ready to leave (a complete stranger). She asked my mother’s permission to describe a “vision” she, the stranger, had seen on the night my mother returned to the ward from the operating theater, unconscious. The stranger said that two figures appeared one each side of the bed. One, a white-haired old lady with steel spectacles, smooth hair and a “bun” at the back; the other, a soldier in 1914-18 war uniform. The old lady spoke to the soldier, who took off his jacket and the two figures disappeared. Shortly afterwards, a shaft of “white light” came down from above onto the bed. The stranger, who said she was a “medium” of some sort, considered that this light strengthened by mother physically and she began to recover from then onwards…The stranger asked whether this vision meant anything to my mother. It certainly did, both to my mother and me. A few years previously, my maternal grandmother had died and her last wish was for the army tunic of her youngest son, who have been killed in the 1914-18 war, to be brought from her wardrobe and laid at the foot of her bed. The stranger’s description of the two figures correctly describes our relatives.

The writer also adds a later experience of his own: 

It happened in the summer of 1942 when I was in the army stationed in a country village, where I met my wife. We had only known each other for 2/3 months and were almost “penniless“. However, as we knew I would soon be posted abroad we impulsively decided to get married. On the eve of our wedding whilst talking to her, by a “slip of the tongue” I found that she had been lying to me about a personal matter we had discussed soon after the meeting. I was so shattered, that I return to the mess son to telephone the priest of the church in which we were to be married, to postpone the wedding for which I had very good grounds for doing. As I approached the telephone my friend, who was to be best man, spoke to me as and as I looked into his eyes it seemed as though lightning had struck me, closing my eyes. I then had a vision, clearly seeing the head and shoulders of a “biblical” type of man, with strong features, piercing eyes, red hair and beard. He did not speak but raised his fist as though to strike me down. I bowed my head, the figure disappeared. When I opened my eyes and raised my head, I asked the others present what happened to the lights. No one else experienced anything, chatting normally. From that moment I felt a great sense of reassurance, and the wedding took place the following day.[47]

Sometimes beings are seen or sensed within glowing circles or ethereal landscapes,[48] or show the percipient a scene in a “holographic projection” manner,[49] or a visionary realm.[50] Here are two such examples. The first is not unlike an NDE:

After a month of what I call “unmitigated hell” one day (January 10, 1970), early in the morning, I was sure I was going to be able to die. During this period I had been sitting up nearly 24 hours each day because of excruciating pain, and then came the day when I could not even sit up straight. So, in a chair, with my left elbow on my knee and my head on my hand, I closed my eyes and immediately left this earth.

All around me was a soft white light and I felt the presence of someone beside me, on my left and a little in back. So, I did not see, but I thought that God was walking along with me. We were going forward, slowly and steadily, getting closer and nearer with every step, and I kept talking to Him. I was so happy. Real happiness, not of this earth where people and material things are involved. Just pure happiness. Then, all of a sudden, we stopped, and I did not want to stop. So, I pleaded, “I have such a short distance to go. Only a few steps more.” I could almost see where I was going, but this was in distinct and I cannot describe it. And then I experienced the most wonderful feeling of peace. Not just quietness or serenity, but perfect peace. I immediately thought “perhaps this is it” and I hurried to thank God before I died. Of course, I did not know if this feeling of peace would continue. I might just go to sleep. I did not know what it would be like, but I was sure that it was going to be marvelous—so very marvelous.

And then a noise brought me back. I opened my eyes and was so disgusted to discover that I was there. The biggest disappointment of my life.[51]


A British subject, unmarried, female, I had just arrived in Naples to take up a new job 3 1/2 years ago, just before my 56th birthday. The morning after my arrival I woke up feeling very ill, and as it turned out, I was to go through a bad illness lasting for the succeeding two months, alone in a pensione, with no one to look after me or even prepare food, with a doctor who didn’t even diagnose the illness till I myself suggested it to him four weeks later – in fact, plumbing the depths, physically and emotionally.

That morning, as I was sitting in my room feeling so ill, I suddenly had a vision. High up, as it might be in the sky, there appeared a circle of people wearing long, white, flowing robes; they were almost up towards a large glowing light, like a miniature sun, –almost too bright for me to look at, and they were singing with tremendous fervor and great joy. Although they were looking upwards, away from me, I felt as if they were drawing me up to them—the sense of being drawn upwards as if by a magnet was very strong, and for that instant I shared the joy that was emanating from them.

The vision only lasted a few seconds, but when it faded, it left me was such a feeling of desolation and utter depression—that I was back here instead of being with them, –that I wept and wept, longing to be away and finished with this life and able to join those people whose company I had shared for those brief seconds.

Mark Fox comments: “A fitter, healthier person might be expected to return to “life” not merely disgusted and disappointed as in the above two cases but invigorated. A return to normality from the state of sheer bliss—having tasted, perhaps, the “fervor and great joy” of the heavenly host—might indeed be expected to lead to depression, disgust and desolation, particularly if such normality involves 24 hour suffering or illness endured whilst alone in a foreign land. In such cases it is surely not the experience that creates the fruits, but, rather, the withdrawal of the experience that leads to them. If, on the other hand, the “return” is to a more tolerable state of existence, might we not find the familiar positive fruits already encountered in the accounts of unusual lights that we have examined with our previous “categories” of experience?[52]

-Many quasi-NDEs have occurred with associated religious figures who glow or emerge from brilliant light.[53]Here is an anesthetic-induced example:

I was given a general anesthetic (gas) for major dental surgery. It was here in Edinburgh and I was 23 years old. It was my first experience of this anesthetic.

Before losing consciousness I seem to find myself in a great dark tunnel, at the far end, an immense distance away, was a single tiny white light. I was moving towards this and it grew in size and brightness until I found myself in a large room. It was some kind of course (“Last Judgment”?), Various officials were moving about, some with sheets of paper. I was asked my name and age, a long discussion took place between three of these men, at length one came up to me and said “there has been a mistake, you should not be here.“ At which I woke up in the dentist chair.

My actual diary entry reads “I had the strangest premonition, a kind of “double understanding.” I seem to know that although all I had of the Absolute was one tiny fragment, yet I must hold onto it at all costs for it would be worth more than all “reality.” My heart jumped and hammered but I held on, and now it is mine forever. I am not a particularly “religious” person but I tried to keep an open mind. I am of pure Scottish ancestry as far back as I am aware of. I have had several, other general anesthetics since then, but all were by injection, there were no similar experiences.[54]

**This is an interesting case, because cross-cultural studies of NDEs have found that South Asian near-death experiencers many times report being sent to a council or tribunal of some kind (with a “bureaucratic character” to it) in which it is decided that “a mistake has been made” and they are to be sent back to their earthly body. See Chris Carter’s Science and the Near-Death Experience: How Consciousness Survives Death for more on cross-cultural comparisons.[55]

In some cases, the person enters an engulfing light that may be golden, silver, or blue and which comforts them greatly until they “return”; sometimes this light communicates verbally with them.[56]

-Particularly complex experiences have occurred around the death of a loved one when family or friends are present. These include “shared NDE” light phenomena in which family members enter a state of consciousness similar to the classic NDE as their loved one is in the death process:

In 1937, while still teaching, I nursed my father for five months. He died of cancer in 1966. When I learned that my aunt (mother’s sister) who was one of our family, aged 84 years, was a cancer victim, I was appalled at the thought of having to nurse her. Now retired, I was able to devote myself entirely to my nursing duties which this time lasted for three months.

One night I settled my (aunt) patient for the night and sat down in my chair near her bed, with my back to the window.

Why, I do not know, but my eyes seemed drawn to the corner of the room. There, at the top of the wall shone a small light which slowly grew in size and brilliance. I could not withdraw my gaze but I had no sense of fear. I determined to be quite practical and made myself look out the window, thinking that outside light might be reflected in the bedroom but there was no outside light. I sat down again and kept my eyes on the light. I have never, before or after, felt such a sense of peace and comfort. I felt a powerful presence in the bedroom and I knew that I would be given Divine strength to carry-on with my duty to the end. I felt an exhilaration, the peace and well-being and I knew that I had been given a manifestation of God’s care for me, unworthy though I was. I went to sleep, calm and reassured, knowing that the burden was no longer mine.

There was an unexpected sequel to my experience.

On the following night, when I had again attended my patient, I noticed that she did not, as usual, close her eyes. I followed her gaze and was surprised to realize that she was staring up above at the very place where the light had shone for me. I asked my aunt what she was looking at. She replied: nothing. I said: come on. Tell me. What do you see up there? She replied: I’m not going to tell you. It’s a secret.

My aunt died a few days later. I am convinced that we were both, however unworthy, privileged to be granted this manifestation of divine help in our hour of need. I can assure you that none of the above account is due to imagination. I am a very practical person.[57]

Sometimes information not known to the percipient but which is later verified is presented to them:

I was standing at the left foot of the bed when suddenly I felt my heart gets warmer, and the warmth went down to my solar plexus, and there was a very thin ray that went to my mother. A few moments later I was “back” and I was smiling, I thought: “it will be all right,” and I had a feeling of relief… My mother had a blood pressure of 62/54.

Later on, one of my sisters in law and I went to my parents’ place to make some sandwiches and stuff for the others who were still at the hospital. I wanted to sit down for a while to relax a bit, and suddenly I was taken by surprise by a “light” and fell asleep—from one moment to the next. Something had simply made me fall asleep.

Then I saw what had happened at my mother’s bedside. My mother was standing at the “borderline.” She had to make a decision. On one side, behind the beautiful bright, white light, several people were standing: her father and mother and her sister Wiepke who had died at a young age during the war. I was standing on the other side of the border.

I told my mother: “Whatever you do, everything is going to be all right. You have to decide, but everything is all right. Even when I will be 70 and you will be 100, I will always remain your little girl. It does not matter. But you have to decide…”

My mother slowly recovered and she is still recovering, but she has always had the will to stay alive and she will never give up. I talked with her about this experience but she claims she cannot remember anything. My mother has lost a lot of memories of her stay at the hospital. She had six operations in a short period of time, and she is still having a hard time coping with all that.

I’ve asked her who the young girl was standing next to her father and mother. I was able to describe her as a young girl with mid length blonde/brown hair, wearing a dress with a tight top and a wide skirt of chequered material. The name that came to me sounded like Wiesje. As I said before, the correct name was Wiepke.

My mother had never told anyone about this sister, because soon afterwards my grandparents had had another daughter to whom they gave the same name, Wiepke. That is why they never talked about the first sister by that name – and no one in our family did.

I was very surprised to hear about the sister when I told my mother about “our experience” at the hospital and I asked her some questions.

My mother immediately recognized her from my description: the hair and blue eyes, but especially the dress. According to my mother, Wiepke really had had such a dress. Right after the experience, the name “Wiesje” had stuck with me as a combination of sounds.[58]

Meditative sessions too can produce apparent messages from the passed-on, even to a person who does not know the “communicating spirit”:

Friday 23 March 2007. Late at night I was sitting alone in my room for meditation. It was totally dark. Just prior to that I had had a little quarrel with a person close to me, so I was sad and upset, and felt I needed to be alone in the dark room for a while to clear my mind. I had just lit a candle. After about ten minutes I started to feel chilly and got goosebumps, my heart beating. There was a certain density in the room, the air heavy. I had my eyes closed in with my “inner eye” I saw a light. I felt I was not alone. I opened my eyes—the light was still there—and suddenly I could see a woman standing in front of me. With dark, pageboy hair, and a nose quite thin, she was quite a slim person in her fifties, and not too dressed up. One had the feeling she was happy wearing sports shoes, a thick pullover, and old jeans. I sensed a certain loneliness about her. She probably liked being out in the countryside most, in nature, but I felt/knew she had a small flat in a city. I was drawn to her upper right arm. I also felt a pain in my leg, and almost started crying when I heard her telling me: “please tell your sister Ellen that everything is OK.” I felt as if she was sorry she had not been able to say goodbye in the way she wanted to. Now she wanted to bring this forth to my sister, and once again I had a feeling she said: “tell your sister everything is OK.” Then it was dark. I was puzzled as to what was “really OK.” Why was she saying that?

The following morning, I called my sister. I was a little worried about telling her, because she is not very used to this kind of experience. She is quite a scientific person. She is an engineer and a journalist in Stockholm, and now also a medical student. I told her about this experience and related as well as I could the information I had received. My sister then told me that this woman had been a friend from work who had died about a week earlier of an illness which I had perceived (skin cancer that had spread down deeper in the arm—that was the “feeling” of “knowing” in the experience and a visual impression I had had), and it fitted with the part of the body that I had described as being affected by the illness. The woman’s general appearance also fitted, regarding hair color, shape of the face, specific facial details, body-build, and style of dress. My sister wept and told me that the day before she had actually cried out: “please give me a sign.” It appeared that my sister, on the days leading up to my experience, had faced a dilemma: having a newborn child made it difficult for her to be at the friend’s funeral the following week, much as she longed to make that journey.

Some days later my sister contacted me, and told me she felt calmed by our last talk. She now felt calm in that she didn’t need to be personally present at the funeral—she could stay at home with a good conscience. A part of the picture is that my sister is a rather rational, scientific, and pragmatic person, who doesn’t believe in life after death.

Sara Hedman Simonsberg, firsthand account, Sweden, 11 February 2009. 

Dr. Puhle’s comment: In fact, Sara’s sister had told her before her experience that one of her girlfriends—with whom she had had a lot of contact—had died. But Sara had forgotten about it. However, Sara had never seen this woman nor heard her name before.[59]

Additionally, relatives may experience a supernal light as their loved ones pass on,[60] and at times are witnessed by the dying at the same time as the percipient. These lights have been amply recorded by doctors, family members, hospice workers, and nurses by the hundreds. See this for more accounts:[61]  

My husband’s mother, in her 80s, came to stay with us after her husband had died a few weeks before.

Just after her favorite radio program had finished, I heard my husband calling me anxiously. I hurried to the dining room but stood transfixed in the doorway. My mother-in-law had collapsed over the table and was breathing in great gasps. Suddenly she lifted her head, as though her name had been called, a look at bewilderment on her face.

Slowly a light like warm, glowing firelight spread across her. She lifted up her arms to someone invisible to us, smiled with such joy and radiance and fell forward again.

At 7:10 PM a doctor staying in the road had certified her dead (angina).

Later, when I told him of my experience he smiled and said, “you saw that lovely miracle doctors and nurses sometimes see, when a good soul passes over.”[62]

-People experience the spirits of the passed on as globes of light[63] (sometimes “misty” in appearance) that often “bear telepathic messages” about the dead, that “they are okay” in the world beyond:[64]

When I was still smoking, I used to go out onto the balcony, because I did not wish to pollute the air inside the apartment. Since my wife is a non-smoker and we have two little children, I thought it more appropriate to. Now and then my son, who today is six years old, would come out to me in the balcony, and we would together look at the stars in the sky. This happened two years ago, when he was just four. He had always told me about a sad spirit or ghost, who would fly as a little light backwards and forwards in front of the one-family-house opposite ours. He did not say any more about the apparition. I had not taken it seriously until one evening, when I became a witness myself while smoking my last cigarette at about 11 o’clock. I saw in front of our balcony a little light, which constantly changed its form. It was about the size of a tennis ball. It first flew towards me and then disappeared and then appeared again a few meters further away. Once again it disappeared, showing up one last time at the place where my son had always seen the sad spirit. Up till this day I have no explanation for what this could have been.

I really can exclude reflections. We have here in front of the balcony only a small path… For the people living here… To get access to their houses. If there had been any vehicle I would’ve noticed it. A torch I can exclude as well, since I could not see any light cone. Had any other person been present, I would have seen.

Lars Parison, firsthand account. Germany, 27 April 2009.[65]

Sometimes the spheres appear during periods of extreme depression or stress in a person’s life.[66] These nearly always ease the percipient’s emotions:[67]  

Donaueschingen, January/February 2000: A new situation, new organization and the question: “how do I manage my life, my outer situation as well as my inner life?” I had arrived at a point when I said to myself: “I have to find a new way. Not in my usual, familiar surroundings; but since I am Swiss, maybe employment in Switzerland.” Then I found the new job. A completely different area, not artistic, nothing to do with jewelry, but in the area of logistics. This also meant getting up very early and going to bed very early.

The alarm clock went off at 5 AM. First I had to rouse myself, followed by a ritual: down to the bathroom, make coffee, up again, and then I sat on the sofa, drank my coffee with the morning paper, and went into my thoughts: “my dear! Annette, where have you ended up?” In the morning at 5 o’clock, there would be no birds singing. I was hurt, disappointed that my boyfriend had left me. “What will happen to me? Why am I here?” I felt completely out of place. It happened then, on this sofa. There came this sun, like an Ave Maria, a sun-ball, like a burning iron, very suddenly. I was almost hypnotized, entering another sphere. There I was, drowning in those negative thoughts, when suddenly such a feeling of warmth. I looked straight ahead and felt inside myself a ball of Orange and Yellow. This I could feel with all my senses. I have seen it, sensed it, felt it in my tummy, in my heart—it stretched from my tummy up to my breast, like a little oven, like a fire, a feeling of perfect happiness. This experience never left my mind, because it came so suddenly and overwhelmingly over me. You feel it in every cell, up to the fingertips. The ball was in the heart center, and so liberating – after all the months I had been running the gauntlet against society, against certain people, against everything one holds tight to—which hangs over one like a sword.

And then came this ball. I saw it as standing for those who wished to help me, who knew that I was not well. Amongst them, living beings such as my parents, and also deceased ones like my grandparents perhaps. It was an archetypal love free from conventions, free from profit, and honest feeling, everything felt 1000% right. At that moment I was sure that everything would work out fine for me. I sensed an archetypal confidence, the realization of which was unnerving. It was first an overwhelming feeling, then one of astonishment, and finally a joy, a sense of well-being, difficult to put into adequate words. I had the strong feeling it came from another world. At the time I had been praying a lot. So this was really a sign, a present, an answer to my prayers, to my palpitations. I was actually very taken by the color, too. I am very drawn to colors, perhaps because I work intensively with precious stones. To sense a color so deeply within myself was fascinating. It was indescribably beautiful. I have never experienced anything similar in my life. This moment was a unique and followed me for days.

The southern Black Forest in a very thick fog, cold early morning—me driving my car. Now that I had gained that archetypal confidence, all would be well. You are cared for, you are protected. Before my experience I had had existential fears, fear of relationships, fear of loss. But this lasting serenity following my experience with the light helped me immensely through that. I would say it was a turning point, a key experience, which enabled me to master my anxiety. Step-by-step I could develop in a new direction. There is something greater: it is faith which makes the difference.[68]

-Light-spheres are occasionally encountered during or after meditative or prayer sessions, as we saw in the case above involving an apparent unknown apparition of a person.[69] They may materialize gradually or appear to move through walls and solid objects.[70] They are seen hovering close to very ill people and are described as “stars.[71] But just as often they may be simply undifferentiated, formless sensations of light that are nevertheless perceived as both external and somehow internal to the subject experiencing them.[72] Sometimes they are described as globes of light that approach from a vast distance and subsequently engulf the person, changing them both physically and psychologically:[73]

I was sitting in my kitchen crying, and asking for help from God, I was praying with my eyes closed, when all of a sudden I saw a light, that seem to come closer and closer, it knocked me backwards off my stool, I turned over on my hands and knees and opened my eyes, but found I had no eyesight, I crawled and pulled myself up by the sink unit, I opened my eyes and still had no eyesight, I was just about to scream for help, when I heard a voice telling me not to panic, that my prayers had been heard, and that this light had defeated armies and knocked people off horses in the past.

I was then told to find my stool and say my prayers and my eyesight would be returned, of which it was. I was told my life would be altered and it has.[74]

And another: 

In 1964 I had the experience visually seeing a ball of light of undescribable brilliance, spinning and traveling at immense speed towards me from a remote distance far beyond the confinement of the walls of the room. My first feeling was of fear and yet I had an overwhelming sense of it belonging to me and when it “hit” and engulfed me I had a feeling of unity, of warmth and peace. I thought little more of it at the time other than an unusual happening as with other odd occurrences of and about the same time. However, the memory has never diminished as one would perhaps expect after 10 years; indeed it has become firmly embodied in my paintings and writings as an expression of illumination and more. Three years later, after a series of illnesses, I retired from commerce and have devoted my life to painting quietly and I hope progressively. My life has changed from an active to a more contemplative one, partly from “choice” and partly because of a number of coronary attacks which, at the crucial times that produce rather unusual experiences, some of which I have illustrated.[75]

-As we have previously seen with the rays, landscape brightenings, and other forms, light is almost always associated with classic mystical experiences of ego-loss and the cessation of bodily identification[76] or religious renewal or transformation.[77]

-There are flashes of light that comfort the percipient,[78] and also speak:[79] Here are three examples: 

One day I was alone and was busy laying the table for a meal. At the same time I was praying for someone in need of God’s help. Suddenly there was a brilliant flash of light brighter than the sun and an audible voice said, “you need not pray anymore, your prayers will be answered.” I nearly dropped the plate I was carrying. I thought I was praying for the impossible and was only praying to relieve my feelings because there was nothing else I could do. About a fortnight later God performed a miracle and that prayer was gloriously answered. I have had the experience of hearing God’s audible voice twice in my life. Each time followed by a miracle.

One very dark tonight I had to pass a desolate, and to me very frightening spot on my way home. So great was my fear that I prayed with my whole being for protection. Suddenly with a vivid flash of light I felt myself lifted and carried in an instant of time to my own doorstep. Surrounding me again I felt the power of a great sustaining love, followed by a spiritual revelation of many days’ duration.


I had just been through a spiritual crisis, helped by an R.C priest, and I thought I would read a book by an R.C convert and this book was quite definitely waiting for me at W.H. Smith’s bookshop across the road from the R.C church. The experience to place at a house called Bellair, Madron, near Penzance, overlooking Saint Michael’s Mount.

That the experience provided a clear turning point within the crisis, leading to a sustained and positive outcome, is clear as the writer continues to describe how:

I am deliberately leaving out as much of the emotional impact as possible, but at the same time this was intense. I felt completely uplifted and everything was flooded with light and I found myself in an entirely new level of consciousness. Everything in my life seemed to “dovetail” and I could discern the hand of Providence in everything. I became increasingly aware as the days went on of being in a pattern and I found myself meeting the right people, reading the right books, as if everything to help me was flowing towards me and into my consciousness.[80]

-Apart from all these “commonly encountered” light forms above, there are outliers—“exotic” lightforms, such as an arrowhead of light that externally appeared and flew off at the time a stressful decision was made while the percipient was meditating in a graveyard,[81] or light which became a hand holding a torch that “set the person aflame” with a healing illumination,[82] or a blue cloud that extended a cord into the body and caused an overwhelming influx of light (this matches Vedantic descriptions of the opening crown chakra).[83]

Another class of exotic lightform might be called somatic light transformation, in which a person’s physical being is gradually or instantly filled with an unsought-for sense of illumination.[84] In this example, lights “from all directions” led to a spiritual blowout and the formation of a “servant-nation” society.[85]


As the above catalogue shows, there is indisputably an emotionally comforting tone to the majority of these experiences. They are in no way historically unique; it may be fair to say that the majority of the world’s religions speak a “language of light” in describing how the powers beyond interact with humanity. 

In Wales, 1905, the young Methodist reverend Evan Roberts underwent visions and began a series of evangelical revivals that swept across the country. As happens many times during waves of religious fervor, anomalous events occurred: shafts and crosses of light and music manifested in the skies, trances and glossolalia overtook hundreds of participants. Scores of journalists witnessed these phenomena as they covered the frenzies rolling from town to town. Glowing disks and “raining” balls of light were regularly seen. A.T. Fryer, who interviewed witnesses, reports one testimony: “Aerial lights were perhaps the most commonly witnessed phenomena during these revivals. The lights took various shapes from will-o’-the-wispish orbs hovering or darting just above the ground to huge discs in the sky: ‘I have seen (the light) every night from the beginning of the revival about six weeks ago. Sometimes it appears like a motorcar lamp flashing and going out and injuring nothing at all; other times like two lamps and tongues of fire all round them, going out in one place and lighting again in another place far off sometimes, other times a quick flash and going out immediately, and when the fire goes out a vapor of smoke comes in its place, also a rainbow of vapor and a very bright star.’

Another witness described the light as “… Hovering above a certain farmhouse and it appeared to me as three lamps almost three yards apart…Very brilliant and dazzling, moving and jumping like a sea-wave under the influence of the sun on a very hot day. The light continued so for ten minutes.”[86]

In July 1905, residents of the town of Ynysybwl returned from a revival meeting to hold their own in the village square. The gathering included spontaneous preaching, confessions, and singing, and went on for hours. A glowing globe appeared hovering above the throng, as if their group mind had conjured or called the lightform. Soon people all around the countryside began seeing orbs and spark-like flitting lights that would combine and bob unsteadily into the sky.

Journalist Beriah Evans, accompanying another popular “psi-producing” evangelist named Mary Jones on a walk at night, reports: “Having proceeded a little over a mile along the road, all walking abreast, I saw three bright rays of light streak across the road from mountain to see, throwing the stone wall 20 or 30 yards in front into bold relief, every stone plainly visible. There was not a living soul there, nor house, from which it could have come. Another half mile and a blood-red light, apparently within a foot of the ground, appeared to me in the center of the village street just before us…”[87]


Three shepherd children Lucia dos Santos and Jacinto and Francisco Marto began to see a glowing “white lady” near a tree in Fatima, Portugal in May of 1917. They identified her as the Virgin Mary and she visited them on the same day for four straight months. The church attempted to censor the news but failed. Crowds grew each time, both the believing and skeptical, and witnesses saw nothing but the children in ecstasy before the tree. Some persons saw a glow. In September a crowd of 10,000 witnesses heard a buzzing sound about the tree during the spectacle. The next month, October, 50,000 people showed up on the rain—and they were not disappointed. The clouds opened and an object resembling the sun but far dimmer dipped down, spinning. Another disc-like lighted object was seen. People 20 miles away either sensed or could see the strange lights on the horizon. There were healings, and the heat of the “objects” dried hundreds of pilgrims’ clothes instantly. 

Lucia dos Santos was given three prophecies, only two of which have been made public and involved the “penitence of Russia, which has fallen from God” (this occurred before the Bolshevik Revolution which eventually claimed hundreds of thousands of lives and ushered in Stalinist USSR) and generally rebuked people for turning away from the church. 


The Zeitoun events equal and perhaps overwhelm even the Fatima visitation in scale. A Church of St. Mary that sits in this Cairo neighborhood hosted a shining apparition beginning on April 2, 1968. Two mechanics in a nearby garage happened to notice a nun in white standing atop the dome and appearing to be readying herself to leap from the height. Calling many other persons in the vicinity to attend and shouting up to her, they soon came to see that it was no person: it was a shining being.

         For the next four months the apparition appeared nightly, often heralded by “sheet lightning” and intense flashes of light that compelled the observers to use sunglasses at times. We might be tempted to say it was an amorphous human-shaped light formed of pareidoliac perception but for the fact that the entity was clearly articulated and would walk about the parapet and bow to the people, wave and give the gestures of blessing. Light shapes resembling birds would fly about her figure. The entire roof of the church would at times glow intensely.

Sometimes the figure would appear floating high above the dome, with waving robes as if in a wind, as noted by bishop Athanasius, the Coptic Pope Kyrillos VI’s envois to the events. Gradually it faded and was replaced by a glowing cloud. 

Hundreds of thousands of people witnessed this apparition. Many times, a disc of light would hover over the church from which the form appeared.[88]

As investigator Scott Rogo points out, the Egyptian government eventually began charging for spectators’ entrance into the area, and in seeming response the apparition decreased its appearances. Many hundreds of photographs were taken of the lightform. The church location is traditionally considered the area near or upon one of the places where Mary and Joseph hid from Herod’s rampaging agents bent on killing every newborn male. Rogo speculates the area is the repository of beneficent, loving, and pious “psychic energies.”[89] I would speculate that we can’t separate this event from the paroxysms rocking the world at this time: Nasser’s dictatorship, the defeat of Egypt in the Six-Day War of June 1967, the student rebellions, the assassinations, and the Vietnam war.  

-Glowing forms of religious figures such as Mary.[90] Saint Bernadette Soubirous originally witnessed what she described as a “glowing lady” within a cave’s alcove at Lourdes in 1854. Only later did she associate it with Mother Mary.[91]

-Persons have experienced a sense of love and help from beyond associated with wholly “inner light”[92] or the intercession of a religious figure such as Jesus.[93] Here is an example of the former type from Fox’s study:

In 1952, being then 28, I was teaching in a temporary appointment, being recently out of finals as an art student and awaiting admission to a teacher training college. I did not relish this at all, in fact the “experience” followed a long period of inner unrest during which nothing seemed worthwhile, often intense, but only vaguely defined, and usually overlaid by the jumble of day-to-day occupations.

A particular moment came when, overwhelmed by what seemed the utter futility of things, I utterly broke down and, and blind desperation (sitting alone by the margin of some field) spoke into space something like, “oh, God! You come and see to my life, I can’t run it alone.” I did not, of course, expect any response…Following this I sat quietly, feeling exhausted, for some minutes. I was then aware of a curious “light” which seemed to grow up within me, and which became stronger and more defined as the minutes passed. I cannot now see how long it took to develop, but the “ecstasy” lasted over roughly 3 weeks. The main sensation was of being loved, a flood of sweetness of great strength, without any element of sentimentality or anything but itself. The description is quite inadequate. I also felt a unification of myself with the external world: I did not lose my own identity, yet all things and I somehow entered into each other, all things seem to “speak“ to me… Something was communicated to me, not in words or images, but in another form of knowing. Towards the end of the. I was aware that the “light” was being withdrawn.[94]

-Many times, they may be figures recognized as belonging to another religion or culture yet do not cause a conversion to that religion. Here is an example from a Near Death Experience:

At the time of my NDE I was a practicing Roman Catholic. Had a died I would most certainly have expected that any visions I had would have related to my faith, and then if I were to see a being of light I would have related it to Jesus or Mary or an angel. As it was, when I suddenly found myself in this gentle glowing light and standing a little below the three beings above me, they appeared as young Indian men, and though they were dressed alike in a high-neck, silver-colored tunics with silver turbans on their heads, I felt they were young Indian princess, or rajas. Two were facing each other and the third facing me. And from a jewel in the center of each forehead or turban three “laser” beams emitted, meeting in the center…My whole lifestyle was changed as a result—much reading about various religions and philosophies.[95]

-Sometimes, individual’s faces or entire bodies glow. In the early 17th century, many people observed Blessed Bernardino Realini’s face glow (sometimes blindingly) and he was once witnessed to have glowed intensely while levitating in a state of deep meditation.[96] The same was observed of St. Lidwina of Schiedam.[97] Some contemporary witnesses have seen auras, halos, or persons’ faces glowing,[98] and there have been instances of persons whose skin glows, witnessed by many observers.[99]


The term Anomalous Light Phenomena (ALP) probably conjures many ideas to different people. Only experts acquainted with rare meteorological events would think of parhelia (sundogs), mountain glow, moonbows, or earthquake lights, all of which have natural explanations. Many contemporary “paranormal” light events have been cursorily explained as incendiary swamp gas (also known as ignis fatuus, or, traditionally, “will o’ the wisps” or “fairy lights”), coherent plasmas/ball lightning, earthquake lights, or sky-to-ground aurorae.[100] Light forms that were once legends to mariners then aviators, such as cloud-to-upper-atmosphere discharges called “sprites” and “elves,” have finally been acknowledged to exist and studied.  

But Terran/anthropogenic energy fields may interact with the human or animal brain to produce startling effects and experiences. Extra-low frequency (ELF) electromagnetic waves and piezoelectric discharges put out by the planet’s seismic activity (from which at least some of the reported ALP, such as earthquake lights, emerge) may also theoretically produce temporal lobe disturbances in the human brain. These disruptions may induce hallucination, sudden dream-like states, or even unconsciousness or “missing time” episodes. This altered state of consciousness (ASC)—especially when the affected individual also witnesses an aberrant light-form—can produce a situation in which the light is mistaken as a vehicle of eerie appearance—hence a UFO report.[101]

ELF-caused ASCs can even result in purported encounters with “extraterrestrial beings.” The psycho-physiological explanations for such experiences can be traced through the clinical work of Dr. Michael Persinger, the statistical correlations of Paul Deveraux between geological fault-lines and mass UFO-sighting “waves,” and the electro-hypersensitivity hypothesis of Albert Budden—but these theories have yet to be satisfactorily scientifically proven. 

And they are just the most spectacular in a spectrum of ALP experiences, for there are many more quiet ones (“under the radar” of the paranormalist so to speak) that are no less reality-shattering. Again, these have yet to be studied scientifically. 

[1] Puhle, 73. See Mary Rose Barrington, ParanormalReview, 2000:24

[2] Fox, Mark. Lightforms. Spiritual Encounters with Unusual Light Phenomena, 2nd Edition, Spirit and Sage Ltd, 2014. Puhle, Annekatrin. Light Changes, White Crow Books, 2014. 

[3] Puhle, 195-203

[4] Fox, 195-199

[5] Puhle, 195-214

[6] Fox, 198-199

[7] Fox, 152

[8] See the works of Dr. Pim Van Lommel, Dr. Kenneth Ring, Dr. Michael Sabom, and Michael Grosso.

[9] Fox, 179-181

[10] Fox, 186-187

[11] Fox, 183

[12] Fox 131-133, 136-139, 171-172, 186-187

[13] Fox, 165, 170-71, 174-175

[14] Fox, 170-171

[15] Fox, 174-175

[16] Fox, 171-172

[17] Fox, 181-182

[18] Reilly, 35-38

[19] Puhle, 100-101

[20] Puhle, 102-108, 114-116; Fox, 94-96, 170, 174-175

[21] Puhle, 103-04

[22] Puhle, 75-77, 82-83; Fox, 63, Guggenheim and Guggenheim 1997 249

[23] Fox, 63

[24] Puhle, 140-153

[25] Fox, 57-60, 125-126, 146-147

[26] Fox, 94-97, 101, 103, 110, 115-116, 122, 156-158, 175, 185-187, 189; Puhle, 65, 198-199, 201-206, 217-218

[27] Puhle, 64-66

[28] Puhle 106-07

[29] Puhle, 123-124; Fox, 84, 123, 146-147, 167, 184

[30] Fox, 146-147

[31] Fox, 167

[32] Fox, 85, 119-120

[33] Fox, 123-124

[34] Puhle, 167-170, Fox 170-171

[35] Puhle, 168-170

[36] Fox, 179-181

[37] Green and McCreery, 12

[38] Puhle, 87-88, Fox, 94, 185-186 (blue light in room, two figures), Green and McCreery, 14-17

[39] Puhle, 87-88 (Proceedings of the SPR, Volume LIII, 1960: 150-151; also in Green and McCreery, 1975: 12-13)

[40] Fox, 94

[41] Puhle, 88-89, 96-97 (in a vivid dream), Fox, 184-185

[42] Puhle, 83

[43] Puhle, 84-85, 96-97, 158-159 (Dazell, 2002, 58-60), 161-162; Fox pg. 184

[44] Puhle, 75-76, from Guggenheim And the Guggenheim, 1995: chapter 6

[45] Puhle, 82-83

[46] Puhle, 175-176

[47] Fox, 184-185

[48] Puhle, 87; Fox, 154-155, 167, 170

[49] Puhle, 156-157; Fox, 93, 116-117, 154-155

[50] Fox, 165-166, 170

[51] Fox, 153-154

[52] Fox, 154-155

[53] Puhle,110-111

[54] Fox, 158-159

[55] Carter, Chris. Science and the Near-Death Experience: How Consciousness Survives Death. Inner Traditions, 2011, pgs. 137-140, 257-260.

[56] Fox, 153-161

[57] Fox, 80–81

[58] Puhle, 129-130

[59] Puhle, 175-176

[60] Puhle, 94-95, Fox, 148

[61] Fox, 80-82, 148

[62] Fox, 148

[63] Puhle, 59-62, 99-100

[64] Fox, 89-90

[65] Puhle, 60

[66] Puhle, 183-184; Fox, 98, 100-101

[67] Puhle, 195-203

[68] Puhle, 62-63

[69] Puhle, 157-158, 174-175 (Fenwick and Fenwick 1996 384-385); Fox, 165-168, 170

[70] Fox, 99-100

[71] (this one is blue, see also Fox 159-61 for blue light) Fox, pgs. 82-83 

[72] Fox, 97, 118-124

[73] Fox, 101-103, 167

[74] Fox, 101

[75] Fox, 102

[76] Fox, 45-49, 107, 120, 137

[77] Puhle, 148-149, 171-173, 195-203; Fox, 112-113, 133-138, 140-143, 170, 190-191

[78] Fox, 176, 189-191

[79] Fox, 189

[80] Fox, 189-190

[81] Fox, 117-118

[82] Fox, 168,

[83] Fox, 169

[84] Fox, 107-111, 135, 120, 140-143, 169, 176, 185-187, 190-191; Puhle, 191

[85] Fox pg. 177

[86] Rogo, D. Scott. The Haunted Universe, Anomalist Books, 2006, 61-64. The latter description is similar to the well-known “falling leaf” or rocking motion of “flying saucers” and UAP since 1947.

[87] Rogo (2006), 63. Wales has had a rich history of UAP and entity encounters going back many centuries. The coastal village of Dyfed—about 20 miles from Ynysybwl—had a ferocious outbreak of apparitions, entities, and UAP sightings from 1974-77. See Randall Jones Pugh and F.W. Holiday’s The Dyfed Enigma: Unidentified Objects in West Wales, Faber & Faber, 1979.

[88] Rogo (2006), 74-79.

[89] Rogo (2006), 77.

[90] A classic example occurred in Knock, Ireland 1879, in Fox 50-51; other examples are in Fox, pg. 76, 185,

[91] Rogo, D. Scott. Miracles: A Parascientific Inquiry into Wondrous Phenomena, Contemporary Books, 1983. Zeitoun: 250-257; Fatima, 220-233; Lourdes, 284-295.

[92] Puhle, 62-63, 126-127, 195-203; Fox, 112-116, 119-128, 136, 139-141

[93] Fox, 53, 90-93, 163

[94] Fox, 125

[95] Fox, 60

[96] The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism, Thurston, 157-158.

[97] Thurston, 160.

[98] Fox, 133-135

[99] Puhle, 160-161 (Passian, 2008, pg. 90–the Luminous Woman of Pirano, who was asthmatic and in the hospital).

[100] William Corliss’s Handbook of Unusual Natural Phenomena: Eyewitness Accounts of Nature’s Greatest Mysteries, Arlington House, 1986, provides thousands of recorded examples of strange meteorological and atmospheric anomalies that ride the edge of science. 

[101] Apparent spacetime disruptions and displacements occur often in relation to strange light phenomena, as Jenny Randles details in her book Time Storms. These can take the form of abrupt jumps in clocktime or geography or “missing time” periods. We will see such manifestations in a few cases above. Because there are often multiple witnesses to a “time storm,” Randles also notes definite olfactory, auditory, and dermal experiences that may occur during the light and spacetime distortions; they are often not single-witness events without physical proof. Percipients may report the smell of burnt ozone, a distinct stillness or absence of sound to the area, and inexplicable rashes or burns. She explains that these might be the result of rare, barely understood but scientifically explicable geomagnetic and electrical phenomena. By the time of the book’s publication in 2001, Randles had apparently given up on UFOs and extraterrestrials as explanations for strange light events that involved time distortions (thus dismissing regressive hypnosis ufologists who would insist upon their therapies to “recall the memory blocks” time storm victims underwent).


WIP: Assorted Rejoinders to Scientism’s Anti-Scientific Dogma

It’s only Anecdotes!

When it comes to the proper assessment of evidence, it is as well to put forward a few principles and propositions. People who pride themselves on the scientific way of distinguishing between things that are real and things that are unsubstantiated (imaginary, invented, spurious) usually draw a firm line between facts that have been, and can be, demonstrated by experiment or predicted to happen in prescribed circumstances, and those that are merely the subject of “anecdote,” meaning eyewitness testimony describing a particular event, an event that cannot be repeated, any more than the coronation of Queen Victoria can be repeated. That was just something reported in historical records, i.e. sundry anecdotes. The lack of credibility attributed to anecdotes is contrasted with experiments in which those effects capable of repeated demonstration or subjected to a reliable routine and the results are published in refereed journals.

With regard to people not present at the experiment, all they have to go on is the anecdote published, and let us assume, for further comfort, it is in a refereed journal. Why in principle should we believe that anecdote more readily than the one about a key that attached itself to/from a split ring, even if the person reporting that is actually as much a scientist as the one reporting on the experiment? It may be argued that anyone doubting the reliability of a published report can carry out the same experiment for himself–that is, if he happens to have a Large Hadron Collider (or whatever) at his disposal and knows how to operate it. The fact is that people outside a scientific specialty are entirely dependent on the anecdotes reported by those within the specialty, and until they have reasons for suspicion, they usually accept them as essentially truthful.

It might be said that they have faith in their colleagues and other disciplines because the sort of people who publish refereed papers are totally credible and have no reason to improve on their “stories” in the way that must be irresistible to retailers of jottles (that is, witnesses to the sudden dematerialization of an object). Is that so? Do we expect to read in published reports about personality clashes that had a deleterious effect on the smooth running of the experiment, about things that went wrong building on reliable/unwelcome results, about technological breakdowns and other mishaps that would detract from the tidiness of the results if spelled out? We do not.

Mary Rose Barrington, JOTT: When Things Disappear…and come back or relocate…and why it really happens, pgs. 8-9


Hand-Wavery: Regarding the debunkers’ “there must be trickery involved in all ‘expert’-observed paranormal occurrences, despite there being no evidence that trickery is the case”:

Such a position (undetected trickery) is, in a sense, quite impregnable. But, paradoxically, it is its very impregnability which undermines it. One cannot deny that, logically speaking, undetected trickery, undetected natural causes, undetected malobservation and undetected lying may lie behind all reports of poltergeist phenomena. But to assume without supporting evidence, and despite numerous considerations (such as we have advanced above) to the contrary, that they do live behind them, is to insulate one’s beliefs in this sphere from all possibility of modification from the cold contact of chastening facts. It is to adopt the paranoid stance of the flat-earther or the religious fanatic, who can “explain away” all the awkward facts which threaten his system of delusions. At its worst, such a stance borders on insanity; at best it constitutes an unhealthy and unprofitable turning away from the realities of the world.

Poltergeists, Alan Gauld and A.D. Cornell, pg. 262.


On the Arrogant Denial that Investigating the Paranormal can Ever be Scientific, and the Humility Required in the Endeavor to Investigate it:

To minds which can admit nothing but what can be explained and demonstrated, an investigation of this sort must appear perfectly idle: for while, on the one hand, the most acute intellect or the most powerful logic can throw a little light on the subject, it is, at the same time—though I have confident hope that this will not always be the case—equally irreducible within the present bounds of science; meanwhile, experience, observation, and intuition, must be our principal if not our only guides. Because, in the 17th century, credulity outran reason and discretion; the 18th century, by a natural reaction, threw itself into an opposite extreme. Whoever closely observes the signs of the times, will be aware that another change is approaching. The contemptuous skepticism of the last age is yielding to a more humble spirit of inquiry; and there is a large class of persons among the most enlightened of the present, who are beginning to believe that much of what they have been told to reject as fable, has been, in reality, ill-understood truth. Somewhat of the mystery of our own being, and of the mysteries that compass us about, or beginning to loom upon us—as yet, it is true, but obscurely; and, in the endeavor to follow out the clues they offer, we have but a feeble light to guide us. We must grope our way through the dim path before us, ever in danger of being let into error, while we may confidently reckon on being pursued by the shafts of ridicule—that weapon so easy to wield, so potent to the weak, so weak to the wise—which has delayed the births of so many truths, but never stifled one. The pharisaical skepticism which denies without investigation, is quite as perilous, and much more contemptible, than the brought blind credulity which accepts all that is taught without inquiry; it is, indeed, but another form of ignorance assuming to be knowledge. And by investigation, I do not mean the hasty, captious, angry notice of an unwelcome fact, that too frequently claims the right of pronouncing on a question; but the slow, modest, painstaking examination, that is content to wait upon Nature, and humbly follow out her disclosures, however opposed to preconceived theories or mortifying to human pride. If scientific men could but comprehend how they discredit the science they really profess, by their despotic arrogance and exclusive skepticism, they would surely, for the sake of the very science they love, affect more liberality and candor. This reflection, however, naturally suggests another, namely, do they really love science, or is it not too frequently with them but the means to an end? Were the love of science genuine, I suspect it would produce very different fruits to that which we see borne by the tree of knowledge, as it flourishes at present; and this suspicion is exceedingly strengthened by the recollection that, among the numerous students and professors of science I have at different times encountered, the real worshippers and genuine lovers of it, for its own sake, have all been men of the most singular, candid, unprejudiced, and inquiring minds, willing to listen to all new suggestions, and investigate all new facts; not bold and self-sufficient, but humble and reverent suitors, who aware of their own ignorance and unworthiness, and that conscious they are yet but in the primer of Nature’s works, they do not permit themselves to pronounce upon her disclosures, or set limits to her decrees. They are content to admit that things new and unsuspected may yet be true; that their own knowledge of facts being extremely circumscribed, the systems attempted to be established and such on certain data, must needs be very imperfect, and frequently altogether erroneous; and that it is therefore their duty, as it ought to be there pleasure, to welcome as a stranger every gleam of light that appears in the horizon, let it loom from whatever quarter it may.

The NightSide of Nature, Catherine Crowe, 1848


No, Timmy, Extraordinary Claims Simply Require Ordinary, Scientifically-Sound Evidence:

The first of these distinctive fallacies has been neatly defined in the words “extraordinary claims demand extraordinary proof.” There seems to be some question about who first formulated this adage but it appears frequently in the writings of the late debunker and CSICOP member Carl Sagan, and so it seems only reasonable to name it “Sagan’s fallacy.” Like most fallacies, it seems reasonable at first glance, but behind it lies a drastic distortion of logic. What this adage means is that evidence for one set of claims – “extraordinary claims” – ought to be judged by a different and more restrictive standard of evidence than other claims.

What makes a claim extraordinary, though? Jimmy Carter’s 1969 UFO sighting offers a good example. What we know about the sighting is that a small group of businessmen watched an unusual light in the sky for a few minutes. Robert Shaeffer’s claim that the witnesses saw the planet Venus, and somehow suffered a collective hallucination in which the planet seemed to turn red and approach within a few hundred yards of them, is surely just as extraordinary as the suggestion that the witnesses saw something strange in the sky, and reported it as they saw it. If the same group of men had sighted parhelia or ball lightning, say, Shaeffer would likely have excepted their testimony as a matter of course. The only thing that makes Carter’s sighting “extraordinary” is that believers in the null hypothesis (that no ETs exist) want to argue that it did not happen.

This point can be made more generally. The evidence that has been offered to date for the real existence of UFOs–not, please note, of alien spaceships, but simply of things seen in the skies that have not yet been adequately identified by witnesses or investigators, which again is what the term actually means–would have been accepted by most scientists if it involved anything within the currently accepted range of natural phenomena. Sagan’s fallacy attempts to justify this divergence, but in the process it violates several of the most basic rules of logic.

It’s one of the classic fallacies – the Latin name for it is petitio principii – to insist that the evidence for one side of an argument are to be judged by a different standard than the evidence for the other side of the same argument. It’s another classic fallacy – consensus gentium is the Latin term for this one – to insist that because a given community of people believes that something is true, it is true. Sagan’s fallacy combines these two in a triumph of circular reasoning. Once a claim has been labeled false by debunkers, the evidence that supports the claim is automatically considered less valid than the evidence that opposes it, because the standards of proof that apply to all other claims–and, in particular, to the claims of debunkers—no longer apply to it. Since UFOs don’t exist, in other words, any evidence offered to prove their existence must be invalid, and the lack of valid evidence shows that UFOs don’t exist.

–John Michael Greer, The UFO Phenomenon, pgs. 120-121

Parapsychologists really want to play the game by the proper statistical rules. They’re very staid. They thought they could convince these skeptics but the sceptics keep raising the goalposts. It’s ironic, because real psychic researchers are very committed to doing real science, more than a lot of people in science are. Yet they get rejected, while we can be slipshod in psychology and sociology and economics and get away with it. We’re not painted as the witchdoctors, but they are.

-Marcello Truzzi, professor of sociology


The Fallacy of Science as a Self-Interested Institution that, Nevertheless, by Definition, is Immune from Social Factors:

The institutional approach may be useful to historians of science, as it allows them to accept the various definitions of fields used by the scientists they study. But some philosophers go so far as to use “institutional factors” as the criteria of good science. Ladyman, Ross, and Spurrett, for instance, say that they “demarcate good science—around lines which are inevitably fuzzy near the boundary—by reference to institutional factors, not to directly epistemological ones.” By this criterion, we would differentiate good science from bad science simply by asking which proposals agencies like the National Science Foundation deem worthy of funding, or which papers peer-review committees deem worthy of publication.

The problems with this definition of science are myriad. First, it is essentially circular: science simply is what scientists do. Second, the high confidence in funding and peer-review panels should seem misplaced to anyone who has served on these panels and witnessed the extent to which preconceived notions, personal vendettas, and the like can torpedo even the best proposals…

The fundamental problem raised by the identification of “good science” with “institutional science” is that it assumes the practitioners of science to be inherently exempt, at least in the long term, from the corrupting influences that affect all other human practices and institutions. Ladyman, Ross, and Spurrett explicitly state that most human institutions, including “governments, political parties, churches, firms, NGOs, ethnic associations, families…are hardly epistemically reliable at all.” However, “our grounding assumption is that the specific institutional processes of science have inductively established peculiar epistemic reliability.” This assumption is at best naïve and at worst dangerous. If any human institution is held to be exempt from the petty, self-serving, and corrupting motivations that plague us all, the result will almost inevitably be the creation of a priestly caste demanding adulation and required to answer to no one but itself.

It is something approaching this adulation that seems to underlie the abdication of the philosophers and the rise of the scientists as the authorities of our age on all intellectual questions. Reading the work of Quine, Rudolf Carnap, and other philosophers of the positivist tradition, as well as their more recent successors, one is struck by the aura of hero-worship accorded to science and scientists. In spite of their idealization of science, the philosophers of this school show surprisingly little interest in science itself—that is, in the results of scientific inquiry and their potential philosophical implications. As a biologist, I must admit to finding Quine’s constant invocation of “nerve-endings” as an all-purpose explanation of human behavior to be embarrassingly simplistic. Especially given Quine’s intellectual commitment to behaviorism, it is surprising yet characteristic that he had little apparent interest in the actual mechanisms by which the nervous system functions.

Ross, Ladyman, and Spurrett may be right to assume that science possesses a “peculiar epistemic reliability” that is lacking in other forms of inquiry. But they have taken the strange step of identifying that reliability with the institutions and practitioners of science, rather than with any particular rational, empirical, or methodological criterion that scientists are bound (but often fail) to uphold. Thus a (largely justifiable) admiration for the work of scientists has led to a peculiar, unjustified role for scientists themselves—so that, increasingly, what is believed by scientists and the public to be “scientific” is simply any claim that is upheld by many scientists, or that is based on language and ideas that sound sufficiently similar to scientific theories.

—Austin L. Hughes, “The Folly of Scientism”


The occult provokes uneasiness. That it did so in someone as insightful and influential as Freud emphasizes the importance of the problem, even if it was unresolved. His attempted resolution led to errors and excesses. Freud and his followers readily embraced a shoddy myth of origins rather than fully address the sacred. In his own way, Freud signaled the danger of the sacred; he established a taboo. The potential ridicule and derision of being labeled neurotic or infantile is still sufficient to keep rational, academic, status-conscious scholars from approaching the supernatural too seriously.

-George P. Hansen, The Trickster and the Paranormal, pg. 353 (emphasis added)


Regarding Those Dumb, Dead Scientists of Centuries Past:

Ptolemy and Aristotle were no less scientific than today’s scientists. They were just unlucky in that several false hypotheses conspired to work well together. There is no antidote for our ability to fool ourselves except to keep the process of science moving so that errors are eventually forced into the light.

-Lee Smolin, Time Reborn


The Sausage-Making of Science:

Most cognitive scientists have a relatively narrow field of expertise. With the hundreds of clinics churning out new information, keeping up-to-date is a monumental task. For basic scientists to also be well-informed in psychology is impossible. Not having the time, and often lacking the background, training, or interest, they must, to explain their findings, rely on popular psychological theories if they are often inadequate to judge. Experimental psychology is a field onto itself. The use of studies is necessary in order to achieve even a superficial understanding of the innumerable pitfalls of experimental design and interpretation.

Psychologists, cognitive scientists, and philosophers increasingly incorporate summary conclusions (which in all probability have not been independently verified) from neuroscience to support their ideas, but without having the training to recognize inherent limitations of basic science methods and interpretations. The cycle is never ending. New psychological theories become the neuroscientists’ language for translation of their own basic science data, which in turn are cited by the psychologist as evidence for their theories. Once an idea gets a foothold in the collective mind of the cognitive science community, it develops a life of its own, irrespective of its underlying validity. Unsubstantiated word-of-mouth morphs into hard fact.

-Dr. Robert Burton, A Skeptic’s Guide to the Mind: What Neuroscience Can and Cannot tell us about Ourselves


One reason that the full force of (sociologist Max) Weber’s ideas has not been recognized is that they ultimately implicate the limits of rationality–the very foundations of western thought. Science ignores those limits, and it is at those times that the supernatural erupts. But it is not only the supernatural that is of interest, the problem of meaning, the idea of objective reality, and the validity of logic are all directly related to rationalization and to each other. These matters are entirely ignored within science, but they are at center stage in the humanities–particularly in postmodernism and deconstructionism. When these ideas are raised in regard to science, scientists become anxious, panic, viciously lash out, and display an unconsciousness of the fundamental issues.

-George P. Hansen, The Trickster and the Paranormal, pg. 108


Replication of scientific experiments is one of the thorny problems tackled by SSK. It is a foundational issue of science. Most scientists accept the simple idea that valid experiments must be repeatable by others. But when the matter is closely examined, all sorts of complexities arise. What is replication? Who determines whether it is accomplished? How is it described? In controversial areas, simply doing more experiments doesn’t resolve issues about putative effects; there are continuing arguments about what is required for a satisfactory experiment. Slight changes in conditions may have important consequences, and those can be debated endlessly. Conducting more experiments can lead to what has been termed the “experimenter’s regress.” Do objective observations establish fact, or is it only social agreement? Further, written reports are not always sufficient to explain an experiment’s procedure. Sometimes direct personal training is required to teach the skill and convey the necessary information for successful replication. Abstract text is inadequate. SSK raises all these issues, and in a subtle but profound way it strikes a blow against the foundational myth that science is a fully objective process.

-George P. Hansen, The Trickster and the Paranormal, pg. 286



Admittedly, among Western intellectuals today, materialism is the default philosophical position, one often unthinkingly assumed to be self-evident–but that doesn’t make it true. It simply means that materialism, at this period in history, is more popular than dualism. To this a materialist might say, “The popularity of materialism is no fluke. It’s based on the tremendous success of materialist scientific inquiry over the past few centuries.” But here we encounter a very common intellectual confusion.

The term materialism can be used in more than one sense. There’s philosophical materialism, as described above, and there is also what can be called technical materialism, which is a tool or method of inquiry. Technical materialism makes no assumptions about the ultimate nature of reality. It simply posits that a physical, non-supernatural explanation should be sought first for any phenomenon. For instance, rather than assuming that thunder and lightning are produced by angry gods, a scientist following the rule of technical materialism will discover that the phenomena are caused by electrical discharges. Or again, rather than assuming that diseases are caused by malevolent spirits, a scientist following the rule of technical materialism will discover that microorganisms are responsible.

Technical materialism has been an enormously fruitful method for exploring the physical world. We moderns enjoy a fuller understanding of physical phenomena, and have been gifted with longer lifespans, greater comfort, and more affluence, than any previous generations. But our modern lifestyle is not owed to philosophical materialism, but to technical materialism, two things that are by no means the same. (In fact, it could be argued that much of the downside of modern life — the angst and anomie that characterize many developed societies — is attributable to philosophical materialism, with its rejection of spiritual values and its embrace of an uncaring, meaningless cosmos.)

-Michael Prescott, blog entry


We regard promissory materialism as superstition without a rational foundation. The more we discover about the brain, the more clearly do we distinguish between the brain events and the mental phenomena, and the more wonderful do both the brain events and the mental phenomena become. Promissory materialism is simply a religious belief held by dogmatic materialists . . . who often confuse their religion with their science.

-John C. Eccles, neurobiologist.


An example of self-referential absurdity is a theory called evolutionary epistemology, a naturalistic approach that applies evolution to the process of knowing. The theory proposes that the human mind is a product of natural selection. The implication is that the ideas in our minds were selected for their survival value, not for their truth-value.

But what if we apply that theory to itself? Then it, too, was selected for survival, not truth—which discredits its own claim to truth. Evolutionary epistemology commits suicide.

To make the dilemma even more puzzling, evolutionists tell us that natural selection has produced all sorts of false concepts in the human mind. Many evolutionary materialists maintain that free will is an illusion, consciousness is an illusion, even our sense of self is an illusion—and that all these false ideas were selected for their survival value.

So how can we know whether the theory of evolution itself is one of those false ideas? The theory undercuts itself….

Applied consistently, Darwinism undercuts not only itself but also the entire scientific enterprise. Kenan Malik, a writer trained in neurobiology, writes, “If our cognitive capacities were simply evolved dispositions, there would be no way of knowing which of these capacities lead to true beliefs and which to false ones.” Thus “to view humans as little more than sophisticated animals …undermines confidence in the scientific method…”

The reason so few atheists and materialists seem to recognize the problem is that, like Darwin, they apply their skepticism selectively. They apply it to undercut only ideas they reject, especially ideas about God. They make a tacit exception for their own worldview commitments.

–Nancy Pearcey, Why Evolutionary Theory Cannot Survive Itself


I spent 14 years chasing gamma rays and neutrons in industry…I’ve never seen a neutron or gamma ray. I’ve never seen Australia, but it’s there.

—Stanton Friedman, physicist and ufologist

Wikipedia’s Anti-Psi Mafia & the Revenge of the Damned


Most of the online population window-shops Wikipedia for their information, but if you happen to be interested in psi phenomena its accounting of the facts can be outrageously biased or even revisionist. The entries would be laughable if their writers weren’t so dishonest.

Anyone who’s spent time researching psi on Wikipedia can discern in seconds the editors’ predilection for any debunking explanation. If you look up just about any paranormal subject, you’ll find the same pattern: an insultingly cursory outline of the anomaly, followed by sometimes ludicrous explanations that demonstrate the editor(s) did virtually no work in investigating the original reports and probably nutshelled what little information is presented only from books written by pseudoskeptics—who themselves have cherry-picked aspects of the cases to bolster their perspective.

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The trashing of a particular phenomenon or the character assassination of a psi-talented individual very often revolves around a core of “celebrity” debunkers associated with the Committee for Skeptical Investigation (CSI)[1] such as Joe Nickell, Martin Gardner, Susan Blackmore, Elizabeth Loftus, James Alcock, and Paul Kurtz. When an appeal to authority is needed, there will often be offered a quote from Carl Sagan (despite Sagan’s professed openness to investigating telepathy and reincarnation), Michael Shermer, Alcock, or the “Amazing” Randi to snark upon the poor, “deluded,” and long-dead psi researchers of yestercentury and today.

Of these debunking sources, only a few are genuine scientists—and even a fewer number than that are still active in CSI. Bill Nye isn’t a scientist. The Amusing Randi isn’t a scientist. In fact, in the group’s early years, a number of credentialed scientist members bailed on the organization because of its dogmatic, anti-scientific attitude.[2]

Meanwhile, the number of academically-credentialed psi investigators increases by the day.

In addressing the thousands of psi studies and the meta-analyses of these studies, the writer-editors invoke “methodological faults” quite often—conveniently footnoted to articles by Joe Nickell, Martin Gardner, James Alcock, or even the non-scientist Randi. As psi investigator Craig Weiler points out:

“Since alternative sciences are mostly shut out from mainstream consideration, the evidence isn’t examined closely in many mainstream scientific discussions.  In other words, there are very, very few solid scientific sources for skeptics to work with. There are no sources that sufficiently support statements about parapsychology or many other frontier science such as ‘this is pseudoscience’ ‘rejected by the scientific community’ or ‘negatively impacts the public understanding of science.’  No one has ever gone to the trouble to try to prove these things scientifically.  And it’s very doubtful that it’s even possible.

So skeptics have to resort a lot of the time to sources that are created ‘in house’ so to speak.  These come in the form of skeptics being interviewed, skeptical articles, newsletters, blogs by notable skeptics, etc.  This is especially true on Wikipedia when it comes to psychics.  It is very tough to make the case that any of them are frauds or deluded without resorting to opinion or (the failure of James Randi Foundation’s) Million Dollar Challenge. (To award a psychic for genuine psi abilities). Mainstream sources generally stay away from landing on one side or the other of this debate because of either liability issues or fear of losing audience by being too skeptical.

This is undoubtedly why the Guerrilla Skeptics work so closely with CSI and JREF.  Without the sourcing from these two reactionary organizations or their fellows and other skeptical organizations, many of their assertions would be just about impossible to make.”

Further, the rebuttals to the debunkers’ criticisms by the original psi investigators are never mentioned in the Wikipedia entries. The latter have often clearly enumerated the mistakes, mischaracterizations, or outright falsehoods made by both skeptics and pseudo-skeptics.

The use of this small core debunking crowd as final authorities is akin to having the Wikipedia entries for Impressionist movement and artists referencing ten or so Impressionist-hating critics, when there in fact have been thousands of art critics.

Again, the references and “further reading” sections at the articles’ ends rarely contain the primary references/reports on the phenomena or the work of psi researchers. It’s inevitably debunking books or articles you’ll find…Almost as if they want to short-circuit your interest; as if they don’t want you to do independent research and make up your own mind.

Thus, Rule 1: Try to avoid reference primary sources, that is, the lengthy investigations by the persons who initially researched and often witnessed the anomalous activity. Always reference only the debunking material, or the opinion of some member of CSI. You’ll know this is so if the book referenced is published by Prometheus Books, the house organ of CSI.[3] 

I don’t have any problem with giving natural explanations the primary place in an article—if those explanations were honest and credible in their mechanical-physical specifics—but Wikipedia entries don’t exhibit this equality, because the debunkers’ explanations usually don’t.

And that is because there exists a “mafia” of pseudoskeptics controlling the editing process of Wikipedia entries on anything “paranormal.” CSI and Guerrilla Skeptics have pages devoted to how one should debunk anything they deem “non-science,” both in real life and in online contexts.[4]


First, the “RationalWiki” entry covering the Society for Psychical Research is a shambles, as it unfairly downplays the first generation of the SPR. Richard Hodgson, Edmund Gurney, Henry and Nora Sidgwick, Frank Podmore, and (on the American side) William James all busted dozens upon dozens of fraudulent mediums. Hodgson exposed Theosophy founder Madame Blavatsky of several types of imposture in 1885. Podmore worked on collating the accounts contained in Hodgson and Myers’s massive Phantasms of the Living (1886) yet himself remained unconvinced of mediumship and postmortem survival (he concluded telepathy was probably responsible for mediums’ “hits”). But Podmore didn’t stop trying to find the evidence. William James revealed many spiritualist seances as conjuring feats (which alienated the original Spiritualist contingent within the ASPR into rejecting that organization, ironically, as a bunch of debunkers). The wiki entry doesn’t mention the SPR’s in-depth and failed attempts to disprove the mediumship of Leonora Piper.

Yet the Guerillas reveal little to none of these facts in their account—because these Victorian searchers professed and applied what the mafia don’t practice: a skeptical yet open-minded commitment to discovering the truth. Truth cannot be absolutely settled in science—that is what makes it unique in human intellectual history. As William James said, “Science means, first of all, a certain dispassionate method. To suppose that it means a certain set of results that one should pin one’s faith upon and hug forever is sadly to mistake its genius and degrade the scientific body to the status of a cult.”

This is the deeper truth about the role of science the Guerilla Skeptics cannot bear to face, but was foundational to the SPR pioneers, because the latter were philosophers and philologists and lawyers unburdened with a worship of a materialism that can be as corrosively dogmatic as Baptist literalism.


Or take the subject of poltergeists. The Wiki mafia editors are very selective as to which cases to debunk by granting them a dedicated page. The Amityville, Enfield, and Borley Rectory cases get the longest Wiki pages by far—and they were deemed fraudulent by investigators from the Society for Psychical Research as well as the committed debunkers.[5]

The Wiki entry for the well-documented 1967 Rosenheim poltergeist is a particularly decrepit specimen of attempted ledgermain. There are no mentions of the 1967 Tropication Arts poltergeist in Miami (exhaustively investigated as it occurred by William Roll and J.G. Pratt), the Stratford, Connecticut poltergeist of 1850 (witnessed by thousands of persons over seven months, detailed in diary form by Rev. Eliakim Phelps, owner of the house, and investigated by skeptical scientists, journalists, and clergy who came away convinced the phenomenon was paranormal), or the Sauchie, Scotland poltergeist of 1960 (investigated by A.R. Owen and witnessed by a clergyman, three medical doctors, and a teacher). These three cases are conspicuous absences in the Wiki data, due either to their impeccable documentation or, relatedly, the fact that no close to credible debunking explanations exist by the “experts.”

Rule 2: Always highly emphasize the crudely-produced frauds, then tar the entire phenomenon with these selected instances—and try not to use the work of genuine skeptics who busted the frauds, such as SPR investigators Frank Podmore, Henry Sidgwick, William James, Nora Sidgwick, Alan Gauld, Richard Hodgson, or E. J. Dingwall. Mentioning their work apparently only gives them respectability, and no dispassionate psi investigator should ever be tolerated in a Wikipedia article on the subject.


The 1967 Zeitoun, Egypt Marian apparition entry is apparently a fluke in that the descriptive entry about it is surprisingly longer and more detailed than the “mass hysteria” explanation made further down the page (meaning: we have no idea how so many people could see and even photographed repeatedly an identical apparition, therefore here’s an unproved accounting for it)…

Which brings us to the core of their mindset: they often suggest “natural” explanations that beggar belief in their convoluted chutzpah.

According to these “rational” authorities, multiple witnesses to apparitions like Zeitoun can be primed to suffer simultaneous and identical hallucinations of the Blessed Virgin Mary.  They can also hallucinate levitating bedsheets, candlesticks, and even phantom people–the lack of scientific/psychological evidence for “group hallucinations” be damned…The mafia would prefer us to believe women mediums merely fake trances during which they surreptitiously manipulate unseen but necessarily present concealed ropes that can pull 50-pound bureaus a foot and a half across the floor and back again in seconds…And did you know that 10-year-olds can easily fool professional magicians and a dozen trained observers during a poltergeist outbreak? And that these kids obviously place dozens of stones into their houses’ walls to disgorge themselves by means of invisible networks of threads (that are never found)—and then float across rooms and land with no contact sound?

These are remarkable feats for untrained, pre-adolescent conjurers—many of whom had never actually seen a stage magic act in their life. Thus,

Rule 3: Use anything within the realms of standard Newtonian physics, psychology, cognitive science, or sociology, even if unproven, obsolete, or just plain pseudoscience (like “mass hysteria”), to explain away the phenomenon in an ad hoc manner.

We’ll take a look at mediums. The Wiki editors’ bias is most easily demonstrated by the amount of page space given over to the rationalizations which always outweigh the compressed anecdotes on the mediums’ feats (the latter which, a curious individual’s further scrutiny will find, are told through often highly detailed accounts that what was experienced clearly violates physics as we know it).

Again, the entries for individual mediums such as Leonora Piper all consist of very short summaries (or outright omission) of the prodigious examples of their talents and the laborious screening-out processes for fraud undertaken by investigators. The debunking explanations amount to a hand-wave mention of conjuring tricks and one of two instances of witnessed fraud meant to negate the psi they exhibited.

A jury would inevitably find the grounds of these debunkings as weak hearsay compared to the oft-mountains of evidence in favor of the abilities’ existence. Thus

Rule 4: Always refer to case studies as sets of anecdotes or anecdotal. This is supposed to insulate them entirely from consideration as evidence, and it applies doubly to case studies of the careers of individual psychics or trance mediums; in this case, one can then proceed to fraud! them further and attack the person as a charlatan. As in Rule 2, if one instance of anything ambiguously fraudulent is found in a medium’s career—in other words, an anecdote of fraud—raise this one anecdote to the status of unimpeachable truth and tar the person’s entire career with fraud, despite any contrary evidence from investigators and reliable witnesses. This is an example of the double-standard fallacy many pseudoskeptics use. Fraud discovered=true fact; Psi ability demonstration that is far beyond what chance would predict= “non-evidential.”



Lourdes: In 1858, 14 year-old Bernadette Soubirous spoke with a “white lady” at an ancient grotto in southern France. The apparition told her to dig in the ground near the cave and Bernadette did, causing a spring to appear whose waters have become a potable shrine to millions. Both the Vatican and independent medical authorities have verified 69 medically inexplicable healings.

The Wiki response: the placebo effect, naturally…But have the debunkers any clue how an idea or a suggestion in the mind can induce the near-instantaneous healing of fractured bones, cancer-eaten tissue, or blindness (all medically documented)? Nope. No one does. Move along. It seems the editor stopped short. The less said about this one the better.

Fátima & Medjugorje: Well, there are no Guerilla Skeptic interpolations in the Fatima entry at all—no section on possible alternate explanations, nothing but a sentence offering possible retinal effects due to looking at the sky near the sun, natural meteorological optical effects, or the suggestibility of the huge (30-50,000) crowd during the “Miracle of the Sun” on October 13, 1917. Apparently, a Guerilla Skeptic doesn’t (or rather, isn’t allowed to) mess with canonical Catholic beliefs.

The papal blessing on Fatiman Lucia Santos as a saint and the authentication of the mass visions probably explains the different treatment the mafia offers in the Medjugorje entry (and the fact that it occurred 51 years closer to our present, 1971, when we should know better about these things, right?) The Medjugorje visions were never given Roman official seal of authenticity, nor were the young women involved ever canonized. Open season, then! In the skeptic section, there are two references by Joe Nickell, one to a CSI’s Skeptical Inquirer magazine article, and a skeptical weighing-in by Pope Francis.

The difference in treatment between the Fatima and Medjugorje events is striking. One wonders if the mafia would have been given a hands-off if the Bosnian events had been recognized as genuine and the primary “seers” beatified or even canonized.


Padre Pio: Like Saint Lucia Santos, Saint Pio of Pietrelcina has been canonized, so there’s minimal interference by the mafia. As far as the accounts of his stigmata go: The skeptic attempt to use an ad hoc that Pio bought carbolic acid to fake the wounds is immediately countered by the admission that Pio and his monastery brother Paolino purchased the chemical to sterilize needles for Spanish Flu immunizations. No evidence at all is offered that the stigmata could have been caused by the acid.


Geraldine Cummins: The entry on automatic writing medium Geraldine Cummins actually quotes psychical researcher Harry Price, of all people, as debunking her voluminous writings as “products of her subconscious.” Now go over to Wikipedia’s Harry Price page to see how his character and career fare as a whole in the mafia’s eyes; they do not note the many times he credulously boosted his star psychics. The man was very protective of his test subjects. Using Price’s opinion of Cummins in the entry is blatant cherry-picking, in other words. Cummins herself is on record as being skeptical of her own channeling’s sources, which is in fact mentioned in passing in the “reception” entry. Then go to other sources on Harry Price’s career as a psi researcher and you’ll find a firm believer in the anomalous abilities, but only when it suited him. He was, if nothing else, a promoter for the abilities of Harry Price.


Gladys Osborne Leonard: The Gladys Osborne Leonard entry goes into no detail about the many spontaneous “hits” the trance medium Leonard/her control “Feda” made that neither Leonard nor her sitters could possibly have known—because they were proxy sitters two (or sometimes three) times removed from the actual questioner.[7] How could Leonard have known who the real sitters’ identities were asking the questions? It would seem impossible, yet Feda was accurate in names, times, descriptions, and life-events of these thrice-removed sitters more than half the time. If fraud is ruled out (and on testimony of the SPR investigators, who had Leonard trailed by detectives, she was of impeccable character vouched for by all her friends) the only alternative for the mafia is telepathy or even super-psi—but they can never use those explanations, of course…So the mafia cites only attempts at explanation from skeptics wielding the usual techniques (fishing, cold reading, fraud). Explaining away Feda as a second personality of Leonard’s, as some of the referenced skeptics do, explains nothing, for this second personality apparently was either telepathically gifted or in fact a disincarnate intelligence.


Eileen Garrett: Trance medium Eileen Garrett was more curious about and flummoxed by the source of her abilities than perhaps any other medium, and tried for decades to understand it, enlisting psychologists, psychiatrists, and scientists. Of all people, the wiki entry on her clairvoyance uses the opinion of parapsychology’s worst fraud-perpetrator Samuel Soal to dismiss her ability to replicate J.B. Rhine’s experimental successes with him, Soal. Thus—

Rule 2b: anyone’s opinion is apparently permitted, as long as it debunks with extreme prejudice, and

Rule 2c: researchers who believe(d) in the existence one type of paranormal phenomena are occasionally 100% okay to use as sources of authority as long as they are debunking another paranormal phenomenon.

In the Garrett wiki writer’s case this is ironic, in that Soal was known to be deeply envious of Rhine’s experimental work and, when could not replicate Rhine’s famous telepathy studies, Soal produced them fraudulently by altering score cards.

In 1930, Garrett was “spontaneously contacted” by the consciousness of Herbert Irwin, captain of the R101 airship that had crashed two days before, killing Irwin and 47 others.

CSI house organ Prometheus Books’ two authors John Booth and Melvin Harris both get ample quotes from their books explaining the results of her R101 sittings by not explaining them at all as fraudulent, trivial, non-evidential. No rebuttals by direct witnesses or other parapsychologists are permitted; the “final word” by Booth and Harris is she was a fraud.


I’m going to take four examples of Wikipedia’s blindered approach and look at them in-depth.

Stefan Ossowiecki


Polish industrialist and remote-viewer/psychometrist Stefan Ossowiecki was nationally famous in Europe for his ability to not only read multiply-sealed letters but often tell the investigator what occurred while the letter was written (the writer’s gender, age, appearance, health condition, describe the room or house where it was composed, etc.) His “hits” at reading the contents of envelopes far outweighed his misses, and there is no way short of hot reading (extensive detective work done on the target material beforehand) that he could have known about the writers’ lives—but in many cases neither Ossowiecki nor even the investigator knew they would be performing an experiment on the spur-of-the-moment.

Many times, someone Ossowiecki did not know (a Parisian, say) wrote a letter that was given to someone else who in turn, at the last moment, handed it to the investigator to test him. How could he possibly have known what was written (or drawn) in such a letter? He would then not only describe what was written or drawn inside, but spontaneously describe the writer. Furthermore, he several times told the investigator personal details about the writer and the people through whom the letter passed to his hand, who he also didn’t personally know, nor even had an idea existed.

This led researchers Charles Richet, Gustav Geley, and Eugene Osty to conclude Ossowiecki was a not only a superpsi-level clairvoyant (remote viewer) but an astounding psychometrist: by touching the envelopes, he could see into the past and somehow watch the person write the note/drawing, and sense the scene.

For this one, the Wiki editors roll out psychologist C.E.M. Hansel for the inevitable “conjuring trick” claim with no further elaboration, then hit us with this: “Psychologist E. F. O’Doherty wrote that the clairvoyance experiments with Ossowiecki were not scientific.”[8] This is a strictly true criticism; but still, triple-blinded tests of the man’s ability while he is being closely watched by the experimenters for fraud (dozens upon dozens of times) makes for compelling anecdotes that he possessed an extraordinary talent.

The editors’ omission of the preparations the investigators made to test Ossowiecki is a refusal to wrestle with the details, as is usual. It serves to demonstrate their bedrock faiththat there is literally no possible test debunkers would call scientific with regard to psi abilities. Which is exactly their intended program: it doesn’t exist, simply because it can’t, therefore there is no way to test it.

Leonora Piper


In the first stub, we have Mrs. Piper characterized as a cold reader, a fisher for information, and muscle reader. None of the authors cited for these statements sat with Leonora for a reading, nor did they interview any of the persons who did; it appears they simply came to the subject with these explanations based upon the SPR reports. With complete disingenuousness, it ignores the fact that A/SPR members William James, Richard Hodgson, Frederic Myers, James Hyslop, and Oliver Lodge conducted strenuous measures against cold reading, hot reading, and muscle reading. These trained philosophers and scientists weren’t stupid and gullible as the pseudoskeptics would like you to think. Richard Hodgson was so flummoxed by her abilities that he hired private detectives to secretly trail Mrs. Piper and her family for several months, watching them for meetings with “cut-outs” between their friends and the SPR who might be feeding her any information. They turned up absolutely no evidence of fraud, which impressed Hodgson and the other investigators. Over the years Hodgson continued to periodically monitor as closely as he could Piper’s social activities but again came up with no evidence at all for hot reading. They even paid for she and her daughters to travel to England for strenuous examination by the British SPR and use dozens of random strangers as sitters, where there was no possibility of her gaining a hot reading.

These facts go conveniently unmentioned anywhere in the article.

While it is true that Mrs. Piper often had the sitters hold her hands or place their hands against her forehead, which could open her to charges of muscle reading in gauging how close her answers were, the quality of double or triple-blinded information she on occasion gave—ostensibly evidential of either spirit communication or omniclairvoyance (superpsi)—would lead one to think that even if she did use muscle reading, it was irrelevant to her results, because the information would have to have been conveyed via unconscious telepathy by the sitters themselves to Mrs. Piper; even the sitters were often unaware of the information she provided, which was found later by them to be true.

This is a possibility the Wiki editors never consider. And she did fish, but the sitters were for the most part told to remain silent and poker-faced as her controls sought for names, dates, or concepts.

The biography section says she “made a fortune” from her readings. It doesn’t make clear that this money was paid to her by the SPR to keep her exclusively their subject, with an investigator and stenographer/note-taker present at every sitting. She was essentially a salaried test subject for some 15 years.

Two examples of Piper’s sittings amongst many serve to demonstrate what sort of inexplicable talent they found themselves compelled to explain:

For a period of several years, Mrs. Piper’s main “spirit control” was the coarse-speaking French physician “Phinuit.” A man named John Hart had a sitting with Leonora which was suddenly interrupted by the “spirit” of George Pellew, (GP), who was a recently deceased friend of Hodgson and Hart both whom Piper did not know about. GP successfully spelled out his name for the two surprised men (Hodgson sat in on the sessions most of the time). Pellew, speaking through Phinuit, described a specific pair of shoes he was wearing that had been originally given to Hart by Pellew’s parents (a true past event). This of course would count towards nothing but possible telepathy. GP then asked Hart to get in touch with Pellew’s friends Jim and Mary Howard to have a sitting with Mrs. Piper, and described a specific conversation on metaphysics he once had with the Howards’ 15 year-old daughter Katharine—another event that turned out to have occurred (but neither Hodgson nor Hart knew about at the time). GP mentioned a specific book he had failed to finish reading when he died which Hodgson knew to be true.

The Howards then came in for a sitting (pseudonymously, at Hodgson’s ever-skeptical insistence). This time GP communicated directly, bypassing Phinuit. GP corrected Jim Howard’s wayward assertion that a mutual friend (Rogers) was writing a novel by telling him that Rogers was actually working on a memorial to him, GP. This was correct. GP described Rogers’s deceased daughter as being nearby (that is, “on the other side”) as she still fretted over her condition during her final days, in which she had to be fed with a tube. GP then mentioned “Berwick” and “Orenberg,” more friends of the Howards.

Mrs. Piper knew of none of these persons, and all the information and connections given were true.

At their next sitting the Howards brought their daughter Katharine. GP joked about her terrible violin playing, to which Mrs. Howard took offense but Katharine later clarified was a running joke between she and GP—his spirit was apparently attempting to establish bona fides with the teenager. Mrs. Piper passed out of trance then back in as Phinuit returned and carried on a conversation in French with Katharine, which the girl knew fluently from living in France. Mrs. Piper consciously knew no French.

The GP control apparently exhibited either remote viewing or “retroactive” telepathy on one occasion. With the Howards at home, Hodgson asked GP to visit their house and give a report on what he perceived. Mrs. Howard was seen writing letters to GP’s mother and someone named Tyson. GP also perceived her holding one of his own books as she wondered if his spirit were around her at that moment. When Hodgson checked with Mrs. Howard he discovered that the events as seen were true but had occurred on the previous day. Hodgson conjectured that Mrs. Piper was either retroactively remote viewed the past, or had telepathically accessed Mrs. Howard’s mind in real time as she thought of the previous day’s activities. Either way, this is a possible astounding feat of superpsi.[9]

Next, Sir Oliver Lodge wanted to eliminate the possibility of telepathy in Piper’s sittings. So he in effect double-blinded himself by means of an object gotten from an elderly uncle he with whom he was not close. It was a gold watch owned originally by the uncle’s twin brother, who had died decades ago. Lodge handed it to Mrs. Piper, whose control immediately declared it was once owned by the physicist’s uncle. The control, Phinuit, said that this uncle was very fond of another uncle whose name was Robert—another hit; it was true, the living uncle’s name was Robert. Her voice then changed from Phinuit’s to the dead twin, who called himself Jerry (third hit).

Lodge then asked for something only Jerry and Robert would know between them. Phinuit spoke of the two nearly drowning in a dangerous creek while young, killing a cat in “Smith’s field” with a rifle, and that Jerry treasured a “skin” that he’d found.
Robert, it turned out, still possessed his brother’s beloved snakeskin, and they did swim in a perilous creek.

This wasn’t enough for Lodge, so he wrote to his younger uncle asking for any memories involving a creek and a cat in the twins’ youth. The third uncle recalled it all: the dangerous creek and the poor cat they shot in the field. They were so mortified of their behavior they’d all kept it secret, but it became public in the small community, to their shame.

Despite the true statements around the pocket watch—handed to Piper with no contextual information at all about it—Lodge still insisted on sending detectives to the town where his three uncles grew up to find out if recent enquiries had been made about the family. The detectives reported back: no, and not even any evidence that the shameful activities of the brothers long ago had been documented in public records in any way.[10]

These are two examples of Piper’s mediumship, and there several more of equal power, which we need not go into—and the Guerilla Skeptics would really prefer you didn’t. You might catch curiosity that there’s something to these strange things.

The Wiki entry on Piper emphasizes repeatedly the disagreements between members of the A/SPR over the nature of her talent, as if their clashes in toto negate her authenticity, when in fact James, Hyslop, and even skeptic Frank Podmore simply favored a belief that it was due to telepathy. Even this professional consensus on a paranormal explanation is a no-no that the Wikivigilantes cannot dare mention.

Out of thousands of quotes that could’ve be chosen to characterize the ever-cautious Hodgson’s strenuous work with Piper, we are offered Morton Prince’s observation that her mediumship “wrecked his mind” after Hodgson began to favor the spirit hypothesis over telepathy. In the editors’ selective reading, Frank Podmore is said to have concluded that “Hyslop’s séance sittings with Piper ‘do not obviously call for any supernormal explanation’ and ‘I cannot point to a single instance in which a precise and unambiguous piece of information has been furnished of a kind which could not have proceeded from the medium’s own mind, working upon the materials provided and the hints let drop by the sitter.’”[11]

Podmore’s is an incredibly poor assessment of the evidence, as the Howards and Lodge episodes above reveal; both sittings exhibited precise and unambiguous pieces of information that could not have proceeded only from Mrs. Piper’s mind. According to Ghost Hunters author Deborah Blum, Podmore concluded that “…Leonora Piper was a woman with some telepathic skills and an excellent memory for facts shared casually by her sitters. He had no proof of the latter…but her overall record, although impressive, failed to convince…Perhaps this was too cynical, Podmore allowed: ‘The accurate appreciation of evidence of this kind is almost an impossible task,’ (Podmore) wrote in his book Modern Spiritualism. ‘Mrs. Piper would be a much more convincing apparition if she could have come to us out of the blue, instead of trailing behind her a nebulous ancestry of magnetic somnambules, witchridden children, and ecstatic nuns.’[12] (emphasis added)

To be clear: There was no proof at all for her possessing “an excellent memory for facts shared by her sitters” that in turn fooled investigators. This says it all as far as using Podmore as a credible source on Leonora Piper. Again, the writer-editors make no mention of his ambivalent conclusion on telepathy. And his lumping her together with the hundreds of fraudulent “show mediums” is insulting.

After a cherry-picked tally of her failures and sprinklings of dismissive evaluations in her bio and career, were given a lengthy “skeptical reception” section. As if it were needed.

Few of her many hundreds of hits are mentioned. When Piper accurately described the recently deceased daughter of a Reverend Sutton to he and his wife during an 1893 sitting, then gave her cause of death, her nickname and the nicknames of the girl’s brother and sister, “John G. Taylor suggested that the information Piper gave could naturally be explained if she had read an obituary notice in the local newspaper. Taylor also suggested Piper may have picked up clues from the sitters about the girl’s nickname.” (emphasis added)

Read that closely again. There is no proof here, just “what ifs,” nor any evidence of how Piper could have gleaned clues from the grieving Suttons to declare specific information.

Her miss rate was openly acknowledged by James, Hodgson, Hyslop, and others as a problem. The nuanced (yet unfalsifiable) explanation for this is that a person in trance would have difficulty gaining any instantly coherent information from a “widened” or “higher” source while in an unconscious state. As Piper’s own controls explained the problem, the deceased individual to whom the sitter wishes to speak sometimes has to have their own control “on the other side,” and it becomes extremely difficult to convey information across three barriers to the living.

This gross equivocation, even if it were entirely false, still doesn’t explain her consistent hit rate. Podmore and James tended to believe Mrs. Piper had very strong secondary personalities, but as James and Myers would point out, these personalities, emanations of the Subliminal Self as Myers called it, can do impossible things.



Home gets much Wiki debunkery upside his head simply because his feats were witnessed by many hundreds of people, including scientists, skeptics, and heads of state and, it’s been claimed, that “every attempt to bust him as a fraud failed.” No soup for you.

Quote from the page:

Gordon Stein has noted that “While the statement that Home was never caught in fraud has been made many times, it simply is not true… It is simply that Home was never publicly exposed in fraud. Privately, he was caught in fraud several times. In addition, there are natural explanations both possible and likely for each of his phenomena.”

Does the page give specific examples of Home being busted by any individuals? Nope. Here, writer Michael Prescott goes into James Randi’s attempted dismissal of Home with regard to Sir William Crookes’s thorough investigations of the medium, and Randi’s devious (yes, devious) “revisions”:

The Wikibunkers explain away the most spectacular Home levitation, wherein he allegedly floated out a three-story window and back in another, as their wide brush to tar his other levitations.

And their story goes like this: the feat was done in near-darkness, and Home could have been standing on those four-inch ledges outside the window…Therefore he did stand on those ledges. Nothing more to it! Here’s another gem:

“Science historian Sherrie Lynne Lyons has stated that a possible explanation for Home’s alleged levitation phenomena was revealed in the twentieth century by Clarence E. Willard (1882–1962). Willard revealed his technique in 1958 to members of the Society of American Magicians. He demonstrated how he could add two inches to his height by stretching. According to Lyons “it is quite likely that [Home] used a similar technique to the one that Willard used decades later.”

Two inches? One problem with that: Home was witnessed levitating three to five feet off the ground during his trips, by at least a dozen people.

And again: “Historian Simon During has suggested the levitation of Home was a magic trick, influenced by Robert-Houdin.”

Do they take the time going into During’s specific details (if he even had them) of exactly how this was accomplished by Home or Robert-Houdin?

Nope. Didn’t think he would. It’s a trade secret. And Houdini never replicated any of Home’s feats.



So weak. Perhaps the lamest debunking attempt of all Wikiskeptic antics.

Prior to Indridason, a “simple farm boy,” there were no spiritualists let alone physical mediums in Iceland.[13] The 22-year-old happened to be asked to sit in on a séance in early 1905 and immediately produced tremors and rattling in the table before which they sat. It is noted that Indridi had never before seen a conjuring act, which were extremely rare in the country.[14]

The first psychical research society in Iceland was set up in 1905 to study Indridason and kept him on retainer, much like the SPR paid Leonora Piper as a subject for 17 years. Most of his manifestations occurred while he was in a trance. They included multiple direct voices, wind gusts, instrument playing, the levitation of objects and the medium himself, light phenomena of various types, materialization, rappings, and, most bizarrely, the dematerialization of his arm. These events were witnessed at times by upwards of 80 persons in the “experimental house” space, specially constructed by the psychical society, in which he lived from 1906 to 1909.[15] In this space, Indridason was usually held by investigators or strapped down in a chair that sat behind a wire mesh-barrier that could be examined for signs of tampering during his sessions. Some of these manifestations took place in plain light.

Indridason’s primary control, at first, was his paternal grand-uncle Konrad Gislason. While in trance he was repeatedly tested with needle pokes to no reaction, as if in a depicted hypnotic state. In November 1905, four persons testified that tables levitated as high as 7 feet several times during Indridi’s trance. All attempts to pull them down failed. It also occurred spontaneously while he was in a full waking state. A seance on November 24, 1905 was interrupted at roughly 9pm by a personality named “Emil Jensen,” a manufacturer, who spoke of a fire burning at that moment in a Copenhagen factory. It was brought under control within an hour. Three accounts of this particular séance were written down, one of them immediate, but many more people were present.[16]

The next issues of the leading Danish newspaper Politiken were delivered to the island four weeks later, at Christmas, 1905, and “Jensen’s” declarations had been true: a large fire at a lamp and chandelier factory in Copenhagen had occurred on the late night of November 24. Of the four fires that had occurred in Copenhagen within a month’s period, this was the only to befall a factory. There were no telephones or even telegraph service between Iceland and Denmark. In 2009, researcher Erlendur Haraldsson searched Copenhagen’s city records and found a manufacturer and coffee merchant Thomas Emil Jensen who had lived two doors down from the burnt lamp factory and had died at 50 in 1898; on further research it was discovered that the man had lived his entire life within two blocks of the site of the fire.[17]

In December 1907 to early 1908, an interloping spirit named Jon Einarsson caused very destructive poltergeist activity while Indridi was both in and out of trance, but was pacified somehow by a group of “ministering” spirits who insulated Indridi from Jon’s anger by anointing the medium’s forehead. Afterward Jon became a primary control. Two other “spirits” controlled Indridason: a Spanish-French opera diva (possibly Maria Felicia Malibran) who often sang from within the room, and a Norwegian doctor who later was tentatively identified as leprosy expert Daniel Cornelius Danielssen.


In late 1908, Dr. Gudmundur Hannesson became involved. Hannesson was a professor of medicine at the University of Iceland, an anthropologist, a Reykjavik city councilman, an honorary member of the Icelandic and Danish Association of Physicians, and served as President of the University of Iceland for two terms. This was no woo-woo guy and he was determined to debunk Indridi’s exhibitions, which were causing uproars in the press (Indridason had become the most famous person in Iceland).

Hannesson witnessed the near full array of Indridason’s talents—apart from levitation, which occurred a few times but in darkness. To confound the possibility of Indridi or an accomplice moving objects outside the mesh barrier, he placed newfangled glow-in-the-dark tape on the musical instruments and objects about the room. He saw a zither fly about high as the ceiling and dart at incredible speeds as it played snatches of tunes whose acoustics followed the location of the instrument at every second. He heard two disembodied voices, an accomplished female singer and a low male voice sing a duet in harmony, separated in space by eight to ten feet from one another in the hall with only five people (and no women) present at the seance. Many separate voices had been already witnessed in the surrounding space of the hall by hundreds of seance-goers over the years. With this personal witness Hannesson completely ruled out ventriloquism, which was a consistent charge leveled against the medium by skeptics (nearly all of whom had never attended one of Indridi’s seances).

While the Wiki summary of his career is unusually detailed and even-handed, all of the further “rational criticism” is just opinions at second and third hand and beyond, mostly from the contemporary Icelandic press (who were incredibly hostile towards him for religious reasons) with not a single eyewitness account in the lot. The remainder are tired pseudoskeptical takes on what possibly could have accounted for the events: the usual ventriloquism, conjuring tricks, confidence schemes amongst his assistants. This is simply disingenuous, for the firsthand witnesses and Indridi’s assistants were of high standing. A quote by an Antonio da Silva Mello claims the sittings weren’t scientific. For this, as mentioned above, Indridason was the first trance medium in Iceland’s history; the country had no formal parapsychology labs, nor were they aware of the SPR’s protocols for testing mediums.

In any case, Dr. Hannesson’s strict settings for testing Indridason were very close to those used by the SPR: Indridi was physically restrained and isolated by thick mesh netting from the areas where the majority of the PK activity took place. The experimental house was thoroughly examined three times before each seance and one successful seance took place at Dr. Hannesson’s own house in a room he chose at the last moment.


The psi of the laboratory and psi of the medium are obviously of different character. Lab telepathy has been shown to exist but is weak-to-moderate in effect…But quantifying the likelihood of someone like Mrs Piper correctly guessing thousands of items about the sitters present before her, or about the proxy sitters substituting for them, and evidential facts about the deceased surely beats the lab numbers by several orders of magnitude beyond chance.

In short, telepathy, superpsi, and survival communication are three entirely different things, although the mechanism by which they utilize the brain may be similar or even the same, as elusive as it presently is.

By the 1930s, the mass medium of information delivery for psi studies largely changed from individual cases like Piper to laboratory reports—and that wasn’t enough for the mainstream scientists to pick up the ball. Even design protocols for psi experiments that would garner little to no criticism if new dharma drugs were their subject are claimed by pseudoskeptics to be compromised by “file drawer problems,” “selective reporting,” and “confirmation biases.”

These are bullshit wavings-away of evidence. Facts are adduced indirectly in science all the time, and their existence is assumed to hold until more firm evidence backs up the experimental assays. And this is certainly the case with forms of psi. It has been indirectly proven; that is, what is displayed in thousands of lab experiments, after all confounding factors are eliminated, calls for the most parsimonious explanation: that a form of anomalous cognition that bypasses the physical senses exists. This may be called evidence type 2.

Debunkers ask for direct evidence (evidence type 1, as is displayed by a physics or chemistry experiment) and think poorly of non-supportive indirect evidence (evidence 2). I suppose the only acceptable direct evidence is…well, as I’ve pointed out above, the pseudoskeptics have consistently moved the goalpost for at least a century and a half, so I suppose we can’t expect there can’t be any in the near future.

The Wikipedia entry on telepathy leads off with this:

“There is no convincing evidence that telepathy exists, and the topic is generally considered by the scientific community to be pseudoscience.” (emphasis added).

The first clause is patently false, and the second is true—yet who are these outlier members of the scientific community mentioned who don’t consider it pseudoscience? Is even one of them given an airing in the piece on why or how they consider it possible? No.

Then there’s this curious statement: “Psychical researcher Eric Dingwall criticized SPR founding members Frederic W. H. Myers and William F. Barrett for trying to ‘prove’ telepathy rather than objectively analyze whether or not it existed.”

Now, doesn’t the phrase “trying to ‘prove’ telepathy” semantically equate with demonstrating it exists? How can “objective analysis” occur without given instances showing strong correlation or uncorrelation between the states and contents of two minds?

And the insistence on objective analysis is disingenuous. The onus is on the stub writer to outline what would constitute such analysis; no doubt some form of instrumentation would be involved, and not the exacting psychological experimental conditions used by J.B. Rhine, Helmut Schmidt, Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne, and Daryl Bem.

The “Scientific Reception” subheading kicks off with there is “no scientific evidence that it exists,” without elaboration. Does this mean there have never been results in any methodologically-solid telepathy experiment that are statistically beyond chance? This raises the nagging question: roughly (or exactly) how many demonstrations of beyond-chance anomalous cognition would it take for the scientific community to recognize telepathy as real? Just as the soundness of a theory depends on the non-falsification of projected effects of that theory, to my knowledge no scientist has come forward to explain what exactly the conditions for accepting telepathy as real would consist of.

Anyway, here’s part of the first footnote supporting this blanket statement:

“One reason for this difference between the scientist and the non-scientist is that the former relies on his own experiences and anecdotal reports of psi phenomena, whereas the scientist at least officially requires replicable results from well controlled experiments to believe in such phenomena—results which according to the prevailing view among scientists, do not exist.”

Apart from there being some error in the quote’s construction (former should read latter), it nicely smooths over all the complexities and problems that real telepathy investigators have encountered in the lab.

For one, it’s extremely rare that telepathy can be induced on demand in lab settings. But apparently on demand is a part of the debunkers’ definition, and this shows ignorance of what has been observed of the phenomenon. Their conception, apparently, is a garbled fantasy version of telepathy that has been internalized and projected from fictional depictions.

Two, it’s been found that a researcher’s lack of attention while setting up a comfortable lab situation, and even the experiment design, can actually inhibit demonstrations of telepathy.

Three, in many instances, apparent telepathy has strongly occurred during life-threatening situations in which the purported “sender” is in physical or extreme emotional trouble and the “receiver” in a relaxed or abstracted state of mind. Interestingly, experiments that have simulated threats to the “sending” party have shown results.[18]

Four, results beyond chance have been demonstrated in the lab in experiments whose design and assays are beyond reproach.

The “thought reading” section in the telepathy wiki is completely irrelevant. It’s composed of two examples, and both are claimed to be the result of readings of ideomotor bodily cues by stage magicians. “Cold” and “hot” readings have nothing to do with real, spontaneous telepathy, as anyone who has steeped themselves in the 150-years of psychic literature can tell you…Again, like depictions in paranormal-themed fiction, the wiki writer-editors’ conception of telepathy is entirely modeled on these fictional images, that merely ape the real thing, in this case what stage magicians can do, and it is apparent the wiki writers either have no familiarity with the real-world conditions under which it occurs. Either that, or they are being disingenuous or dishonest.

Debunkers and skeptics alike are ever-ready to point out the “file drawer effect” when evaluating the results of psi experiments, but a better example of it contra telepathy can’t be found than the contents of the “case studies” section: this stub is itself victim of file drawer effect. It’s risible: Four instances of admitted frauds, two instances of discovered fraud, three examples of tests with “negative results,” and explanations such as hyperaesthesia (acute hearing on the part of the “receiver”) and coincidence to explain the rest. Louisa and J.B. Rhine’s many thousands of trial runs with Zener cards showing above-chance levels are waved away as the result of “sensory leakage,” meaning conscious or unconscious fraud.[19] The academically published experiments of the SRI remote viewers 1974-1996, Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne at Princeton, Helmut Schmidt, Dean Radin, and Daryl Bem—all which showed positive results—are not mentioned in the wiki. Nor are these researchers’ rebuttals to the “explanations.”

The Ganzfeld section actually contains a detailed description of only one side of the debate between Charles Honorton and debunker Ray Hyman to determine whether telepathy was shown during a series of tests; of course, it is Hyman’s attempts to debunk the meta-analyses conducted by the both of them that is highlighted. Honorton’s rebuttals are nowhere to be found. Suitably unmentioned is the fact that Hyman and Honorton jointly wrote a statement after years of sparring that conceded that, even were their file drawer effects and some of the studies were ruled out, the results in favor of telepathic demonstration were still above chance and there was no credible alterative explanation. Here’s an excerpt from that statement on the Psi Encyclopedia website:

 ‘There is an overall significant effect that cannot be reasonably explained by selective reporting or multiple analysis. We continue to differ over the degree to which the effect constitutes evidence for psi, but we agree the final version awaits the outcome of future experiments conducted by a broader range of investigators and according to more stringent standards.’

We may conduct further psi trials and gather more experimental material supporting the previous conclusions that telepathy, remote viewing, precognition, and retrocognition exist. The pseudoskeptic asserts these phenomena are impossible; the other side maintains not only that they are possible but do happen.

Both views depend upon axioms what is possible and probable about the world—but one advocate’s position is open-descriptive (the “believers,” neutrals, and true skeptics), and the others’ is closed-prescriptive (the debunkers’). This means the former’s views are open to be refuted by evidence, the latter’s impossible to be refuted due to a priori assumptions about the world.

The axioms of cause and effect are at the heart of the dispute. Here is psi researcher Mary Barrington’s precis of how a believer might characterize a reality in which the anomalous occurs:

The one overriding law that unifies is normal and paranormal under one system is the law of probability.

Probability is the default mode of the observable cosmos.

What is the relationship between information (something anomalous, say) and its


Mechanistic sequentiality, the default mode, is the usual way in which successive events unfold, indeed, so usual as to seem universal and inevitable. But it is not either. It is just very, very probable, almost certain—almost.

So while sequential causality is nearly universal, it is not inevitable because while a law of nature (probability) is absolute, a directive (sequential causality) can be overridden. If the basic law is probability, then while most events will be highly probable—normal—a few will be highly improbable, and the more improbable the event, the less rigorous will be its relationship with causality. A manifestly paranormal event is one that occurs at this extreme end of the probability curve, a curve that drops from a very high point close to certainty and plunges down to trail off in a very long tail.[20] (emphasis added)

When one considers that the quantum world as we currently understand it operates entirely by probability, why is so difficult to conceive that the macroscopic world may operate using the same default mode and its occasional outlier, as she suggests? For debunkers, this may is a never.

The information collected through public surveys or questionnaires/solicitations, such as that of the SPR, Alister Hardy’s studies on spiritual experiences, Kenneth Ring’s studies of Near-Death Experiences, is usually quite voluminous. The original SPR’s investigations resulted in two massive books of anecdotes and analysis. Its members were able to contact the persons they solicited in public queries and verify the details of their paranormal accounts, as well as gather character references on the witnesses.

The sheer number of these accounts cannot be dismissed. There is always the temptation to ascribe to them the neuropathological turn or some other variants of explaining-away by means of physicalism: hallucinations, seizures, temporal lobe transients, etc. But contemporary narratives of NDEs or encounters with deceased relatives or “spirits” or “aliens” tally with sociologist James McClenon’s studies of the concrete and universal yet extraordinary experiences of people that he ties to the origins of religions.[21] Thus does physicalism belittle and seek to erase some of the most meaningful human experiences.

Tens of millions of firsthand accounts of extraordinary spiritual phenomena cannot simply be brushed aside. It’s no secret that editor-fact wars have been going on for years in hundreds of Wikipedia entries since its inception. Some involve famous persons (George W. Bush) and some less so famous (Rupert Sheldrake).[22] There are only a handful of Internet articles criticizing the Guerrilla Skeptics’ takeover of the “paranormal” subject entries, and one book by Craig Weiler, so I’ve joined a small chorus.

But the fact that, like clockwork, founder Jimmy Wales begs for dollars on every Wikipedia page to keep it going despite solvency can only be a good thing. Personally, I would contribute to keep Wikipedia going—but only if there were a way of sending a direct email to a complaints department about its one-sided treatment of psi topics and addressing their toleration of a small group taking over the discourse of an entire subject. But of course there is no Wikipedia complaints department, because it’s a deliberate anarchive. Consider this blog posting my rebuttal, and some words towards addressing Wikipedia’s absence of integrity.


[1] Until 2006, it was called CSICOP, Committee for the Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal.

[2] CSI doesn’t do scientific experiments debunking paranormal phenomena—because in their early years they tried and failed. Back in 1975, a group of CSI members attempted to provide an “objective way for unambiguous corroboration or disconfirmation” of a study showing an unusually high number of exceptional European athletes had been born during the planet Mars’s rising or transiting (the “Mars effect”). The effect itself had been noted by a pair of French skeptics trying to disprove astrological influence. The French study had shown that 22% of these athletes had been born during these periods, when a 17% chance rate should be expected. The sample size was 2,088, so the odds against this being chance were millions to one. CSI challenged the French duo to do a control experiment: find an additional data pool of random people and determine if they had been born during the same short periods, expecting the random non-athlete group to be distributed at the same 22%. Two years later (!) CSI released their analysis of the report. The results weren’t as expected; the non-athletes were born 17% of the time during those intervals, as chance predicts. Instead of accepting a possible Mars effect, the debunkers instead chose to criticize the original French study by breaking down the raw data into categories and eliminating sets of athletes (female athletes, by geographical locales, etc.) to dilute the numbers and lower the 22% figure.

CSI astronomer Dennis Rawlins resigned the organization in protest of the disingenuous methodology. He revealed in 1981 that when the analysis of the new data went south, CSI founder Paul Kurtz, statistician Paul Zelin, and astronomer George Abell stonewalled and decided instead to try to dilute the original French statistics. Rawlins’s appeals and alerts to his fellow CSI cohorts such as Randi, Gardner, and Philip Klass fell on deaf ears; they had no interest in supporting the truth. An independent investigation found that Rawlins’s belief in the French team’s method and analysis of the original data, the new data, and their conclusion were all justified. A group of genuinely skeptical scientists within CSI resigned as a result of the attempted fudging—and coverup. In short, CSI demonstrated it was no good at disinterested science, and consequently swore off formally investigating any paranormal claims to this day. See Carter, Chris. Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics, Inner Traditions, 2012, pgs. 28-37.

[3] Here’s an article demonstrating a variation of this practice of circular source attribution (the Wikipedia problem of ‘citogenesis’) but in the context of pharma claims that utilize corporate-sponsored studies that in turn cite Wikipedia for supporting evidence.

[4] If one needs instruction in how to debunk something since becoming a cub atheist or newly minted woo-killer, maybe one already has a problem with understanding logic and critical thinking/rhetorical skills and needs to take a step back from the new obsession…Why do both pseudoskeptics and open-minded persons like myself get so angry at each other? I admit that my blood pressure jumps whenever I encounter an evidence-free yet arrogant dismissal of any paranormal event by some message board junior master of the universe who’s just discovered atheism and SCIENCE. Some of us “psi defenders” are just as emotionally volatile as religious fundamentalists when it comes these matters. An impassive, intelligent observer might think that both camps are defending unfalsifiable theses—and this may be true, not just because we weren’t present to witness these things firsthand, but because metaphysical assumptions are involved in how we characterize these events, whether we want to admit it or not. Most debunkers, however, think metaphysics is bunk to begin with, and will deny that they operate from any fundamental axioms other than those the hard sciences such as “normal physics” provide.

[5] The CSICOP stage magician Joe Nickell, who inevitably gets more citations in the Enfield Wiki entry than anyone else, “examined the reports” and concluded the girls in the case must have been using ventriloquism. He offers no evidence for this assertion.

[6] See their book Poltergeists, White Crow Books, 2018, pgs. 330-37.

[7] See Heywood, Rosalind. The Sixth Sense, Chatto and Windus Ltd., 1959, pgs. 112-127; Beloff, John. Parapsychology: A Concise History, pgs. 120-24; Haynes, Renee. The Society for Psychical Research 1882-1982: A History, McDonald & Co. Ltd., 1982, pgs. 83-88; Carter, Chris. Science and the Afterlife Experience, Inner Traditions, 2012, pgs. 145-50, 151-53, 166-69, 177-78, 183-85.

[8] What personal history leads one to become a stage magician in the first place? There are many stage conjurers within the field of debunkers. This has held from the 19th century beginnings of psychical research. But prevarication can work both ways: misdirection can be used upon the skeptic and believer alike. The psychological tactic behind debunking is similar to a stage trick, and simple: generally, one should direct the reader’s attention to the known frauds or “rationally amenable” fraudulent techniques that have been used in other instances than that which is the subject under discussion, and apply them as the only possible explanation for the anomaly by association; direct the reader’s attention away from their immediate suspicion that something extraordinary may have happened. This skews the mind’s repertoire of activities from the holistically perceptive and intuitive right hemisphere to the “part-focused,” linear, and logic-oriented left hemisphere. See Iain McGilchrist’s The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Yale University Press, 2012, pgs.

[9] Tymn, Michael. Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, White Crow Books, 2013. 65-71.

[10] Blum, Deborah. Ghost Hunters: William James and the Search for Scientific Proof of Life After Death, The Penguin Press, 2006. Pgs. 165-67; Tymn (2013), pgs. 41-44.


[12] Blum, 2006. pg 311.

[13] Haraldsson, Erlendur and Gissurarson, Loftur R., Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium, White Crow Books, 2015, pgs. 2, 7-9.

[14] Ibid, pg. 8.

[15] Ibid, pgs. 3, 12, 22.

[16] Ibid, pgs. 29-34.

[17] Ibid, pgs. 32-46.

[18] See the works of Guy Lyon Playfair: Twin Telepathy (2009); If this Be Magic: The Forgotten Power of Hypnosis (2011); and The Indefinite Boundary (1976).  

[19] The linked wiki entry on “sensory leakage” helpfully informs us, “Due to the methodological problems, parapsychologists no longer utilize card-guessing studies.” It doesn’t follow up with any kind of description of what replaced the Zener cards, such as the autoganzfeld test with randomized images generated by computer, and the fact that the senders and receivers may be in soundproofed rooms or even a thousand miles away from each other and still often show statistically significant results.

[20] Barrington, Mary Rose. JOTT: when things disappear…and come back or relocate–and why it really happens, Anomalist Books, 2018.

[21] McClenon, James. Wondrous Events: Foundations of Religious Belief, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994; Wondrous Healing: Shamanism, Human Evolution, and the Origin of Religion, Northern Illinois University Press, 2001; The Entity Letters: A Sociologist on the Trail of a Supernatural Mystery, Anomalist Books, 2018.

[22] See this also on the Guerilla Skeptics’ attack on Sheldrake.

Old Wine in New Skins Part 1: Timed Cultural Interventions & Jacques Vallee’s Paraspiritual Control System

Psi phenomena are problematic precisely because they involve events in the real world and thus become candidates for a physical explanation, yet at the same time they are critically bound up with certain states of mind. Thus they cross the dividing line between objectivity and subjectivity which normal mental phenomena do not.

–John Beloff

One can study UFO reports and abduction tales for decades and remain more or less convinced these are physical beings from elsewhere who must possess advanced technology that is indistinguishable, to us, from magic.

But what kind of magic? Of the ritual…or of the stage?

As Jacques Vallee and John Keel long ago pointed out,[1] retaining an “ET spaceship” framework as a UFO report investigator requires one to ignore much potentially relevant information from witnesses that enters the realm of high strangeness: instances of telepathic messages, psychokinesis, apparitions, and coincidences that verge on synchronicity. In other words, the sort of “magic” materialist science denies exists.

If you embark on comparative historical research into fairy and djinn stories, poltergeist accounts, ceremonial magic, mediumship, NDEs, OBEs, shamanism, and world mythology, the UFO material tends to either assume a wider context of shared meanings or shrink in its uniqueness…You might realize you’ve been fixated on one narrow band in a spectrum of very similarly-structured experiences involving altered modes of consciousness that, ostensibly, are as old as humanity itself.

After such a study course, at least for me, the belief in technological ETs succumbed to attrition in the face of this historical evidence; the hardware proponents lost the argument. I became interested in exploring the raw experiences of otherworldly encounters (as far as that’s possible). What, prior to that, was a side-interest (the occult/folklore in general) to an interest in ufology has become my central focus. The two are intertwined in astonishing ways.


Curious Timings?
In 1848, the Fox family are plagued by a poltergeist in their house in Hydesville, New York. By using raps on the wall or clapping, sisters Margaretta, 15, and Katie, 12, learn to communicate with the “spirit” in a manner that primitively mimics the dot-dash of the telegraph.

After causing a sensation throughout upstate New York, the two children are separated but the poltergeist activity follows both girls. The news spreads and within four years hundreds of thousands of people worldwide are attempting seances with the same results. Some persons attending séances claim the rappings follow them home upon return to their houses; sometimes a person even merely reading about them or deciding to attend a séance causes the activity to arise in their surroundings.[2]

The Shaker winds

Shaker member Miranda Barber’s apocalyptic vision, as seen in trance

But before the (in)famous Fox sisters’ experiences, the Shaker communities from New York to Kentucky had experienced many interactions with the spirit world. The “Era of Manifestations” that began in 1837 didn’t directly involve poltergeist-like rappings, but rather trance-states (lasting sometimes up to 9 hours) in which Shakers’ founder Mother Ann Lee, “angels,” “ladies in white,” spirits of the dead, and unclassifiable entities visited congregants, mostly young people, in visions. These episodes showed all the signs of what would come to be called out-of-body experiences and “astral travel.” Glossolalia, epileptoid fits, spontaneous unconscious preaching, and hallucinated music were exhibited during these attacks; during many trips, “movements” were learned, then mimicked by bystanders, then taught as divine motions that would become incorporated into the Shakers’ ritual dances.[3] Often, the entranced claimed to visit rooms in which conferences were held with the passed-on Shaker leaders and congregants, who admonished them to repent further and reform themselves; in one of these accounts, 14-year old Ann Goff witnessed “indescribable” chairs and a huge book upon a table as the Shaker elders, dressed in white robes with crowns, exhorted her to pass on a message to the community to curb their worldly behaviors.

Messages from beyond that demand behavioral change and redemption—which are so prevalent in “ET entity”-inspired communications regarding our treatment of the ecosphere—have always been a part of trance communications.

By 1841, the Shakers’ trance-entities included the spirits of Indigenous peoples, “antediluvian giants,” and ineffable apparitions. By 1842, so many outsiders were visiting the spectacles that the community leaders ceased holding open meetings.[4]


So by 1860 Spiritualism has exploded into a fragmented but huge quasi-religion that expands upon, mutates, or even excludes Christianity as the truth; the message of most spirits are ecumenical or Universalist in content. Those with genuine talent at mediumship become superstars over the next five decades: Andrew Jackson Davis, Stainton Moses, Daniel Dunglas Home, Leonora Piper, Gladys Osborne Leonard, and Eusapia Palladino. While most of the “controls” used by the American mediums are the famous dead like George Washington or Beethoven, others are claimed to be spirit-guides, angels, or even extraterrestrials, who explain the workings of the physical and aetheric universes.


Two years after the Shaker experiences and four years before the Fox sisters’ fame, Andrew Jackson Davis engaged spontaneous trance using Mesmeric techniques. Considered mentally challenged as a child, by 1845 Davis was successfully diagnosing medical problems by clairvoyance, just as several of Franz Mesmer’s subjects were able to do sixty years earlier.[5] In a trance vision Davis signed a document offered by “an old Quaker man,” then Galen and Swedenborg appeared and taught him. After having a vision of “Galen’s staff” he diagnosed people while magnetized. At 19, he dictated The Divine Revelation, a massive work on metaphysics. [6] This same type of edificatory channeling occurred in many dozens of subjects under Mesmeric trance in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and especially Germany, from 1810-1850.[7] Documented, veridical displays of clairvoyance and telepathy were regularly demonstrated by Mesmerized persons as well.[8]

But Davis’s trance led to more: his dictated speeches produce a huge 1847 book, The Principles of Nature. At one point he speaks of the inhabitants of the planets in our solar system, singling out Saturn as the home of advanced beings.[9] He also apparently prophesied the coming Spiritualist tsunami of 1848 onward:

Davis paved the way from modern American spiritualism in four ways. He accustomed a wide public to the idea that a clairvoyant somnabule might engage not just in medical diagnosis and traveling clairvoyance, but in the transmission of social, religious, and cosmological teachings; he propounded neo-Swedenborgian doctrines about the future state and the spirit spheres and about the features and inhabitants of the planets; he propagated the view that some new and stirring revelation was about to rock mankind; and he implied that this revelation would involve a bursting of the barriers that separate our world from the spiritual one.(emphasis added)[10]

As Alan Gauld notes above, the claims were very similar to those of Emanuel Swedenborg (1758).

Swedenborg, Davis, John Newbrough (in OASPHE, 1882), and Helene Smith (1897) were the only well-known mediums who spoke at length about physical or spiritual beings from other worlds during the Spiritualist period.


In France, education reformer Hippolyte Ravail becomes fascinated with mediumship. He establishes general rules for distinguishing true clairvoyance from impostures, draws up a list of literally a thousand questions, puts them to his best mediums, and publishes a book of the answers in 1857 under the pseudonym Allan Kardec, founding the religion that will eventually be called Spiritism.

In 1905, author Sara Weiss publishes the “scientific romance” (as science fiction was then known) Journeys to the Planet Mars, or, Our mission to Ento (Mars): being a record of visits made to Ento (Mars) by Sara Weiss, Psychic, under the guidance of a spirit band, for the purpose of conveying to the Entoans a knowledge of the continuity of life. Despite its genre association with science fiction, Weiss is a medium and claims the book is one of genuine contact with extraterrestrials. It is a channeled work, complete with phonetic dictionary of Entoan.

By 1890, with the onslaught of ET-inspired messages that would come 60 years hence, much more should have been said about visitors from other planets by the many mediums or channelers of the Spiritualist period–one would think!


Pilot Kenneth Arnold with a depiction of the UFOs he’d seen near Mount Rainier, Washington, 1947

Exactly 99 years after the Fox/Hydesville events, 1947: UFOs begin to show up in our skies (and backyards and seas).

Investigator Meade Layne claims in 1952 that these are interdimensional ships and their “aetherial pilots” can be contacted through trance mediums.[11] From 1948 onwards, dozens of individuals like George Adamski and George van Tassel claim friendship with “Space Brothers,” whose advice to humanity differs little from Kardec’s spirit-channeled philosophies of 1857-1868…

Shorn of the preposterous Theosophical history lessons Guy and Edna Ballard provide, virtually the same Spiritist advice is presented by their I AM cult, which begins in 1930 when Guy encounters the “immortal ascended master” Count St. Germain on Mount Shasta, California, then a group of “Venusians.”

A Paraspiritual Control System?

Culturally, the Spiritualist phenomenon of 1848 may be considered the right cure at the right time. Some strains of it were the first modern split-off from all religious hierarchies, favoring a direct-experience approach to the divine. The spirits on the Other Side would teach humanity, even if the truths they offered were old wine in new skins.

When Spiritualism broke upon the world, Darwin had yet a decade to publish his evolutionary theory, but the impact of mechanistic science was everywhere felt in America, the UK, and Europe. Machines were inspiring wonder and contempt alike. Helped by the new mass media, beliefs in a clockwork universe needing no creator deity were gaining adherents in the academies and inundating popular consciousness.

Scientific discoveries were undermining the religious faith of millions. The geological work of James Hutton and Charles Lyell suggested the earth was much older than the 6,000 years the Bible taught, further eroding Judeo-Christian faith. Electricity became a dominating metaphor for life, for vigor, for magic like mesmerism—and humanity would harness it for health and longevity.

Then, just at the tipping point in mass consciousness towards a de-enchanted universe, along came inspiring messages from one’s departed relatives in seances, psychokinetic magic in table-tilting and ectoplasm, prophesies and promises.

A great emotional need for certainty and meaning in the continuity of spiritual life was filled by the Fox sisters’ fame and the widespread folk adoption of seances.

So, what parallel happened socially and culturally in the decade just before the UFO craze began? Well, as many have pointed out, it might have had something to do with the terror and despair over 20 million deaths in a World War whose final punctuation marks were the bombing of two cities with a superweapon that could instantly turn human beings into dissipated energy. By 1947, the US Navy had tested the survivors of those two cities and discovered the lingering damage that the Bomb infected in those exposed to it, and by 1950 the US was engaged in a game of mine’s-bigger-than-yours with the Soviets over these evil weapons.

A part of humanity definitely wanted new saviors—preferably of a non-human, more evolved kind.

This was just what was needed in the popular imagination, especially the fact that the Space Brothers and many of the reported “ufonauts” preached against nuclear weapons.

Curiously, by the mid-1990s, UFOs were no longer putting on dramatic close encounters of the first, second, and third kind “performances” as they had since 1947…No more reported up-close (-500 feet) sightings of structured craft, no more UFOs buzzing cars and stopped their engines, no more observed sky-to-ground landings and weird pilots zapping and burning witnesses with beams of light…

By the 1990s, night-time bedroom abductions largely seemed to have become the method of Otherworldly interaction…It is possible that enough of the populace had come to believe in extraterrestrials visiting the Earth that a hundredth-monkey effect had taken place: the ETs no longer manifested geologist-biologist-like behavior, that is, space-suited beings taking soil samples and zapping witnesses with those damned “flashlights.” Such trappings were of the Space Age 1960s-70s, in line with expectations of ET space explorers…Interestingly, once the international treaties banning the testing of nuclear weapons were instituted by the 1990s, the aliens’ message had dropped the explicit nuke warning and they began preaching about the environmental degradation of the earth.

Again, it is a message that meets a popular psychological need, and tracks with cultural change.

There is a parallel to this change of manifestation within the Spiritualist movement: By the 1910-1920s, Spiritualism as a world religious movement had run its course (except in Brazil, where the Kardec Spiritist church is still popular). By the 1930s, reports of the most spectacular physical effects that can occur during séances had declined. It was as if the contacted spirits were no longer compelled to tilt tables and raise ectoplasmic spooks as they did in the 19th century; it was as if a certain number of people believing in them had reached a critical mass—so these supernatural displays were no longer necessary.[12]

Many Mesmerized persons from 1780-1850 produced astonishing, well-documented examples of “traveling clairvoyance” (remote viewing), telepathy, distant healing, and diagnosis.

The same decline effect can be said for the population frequency of extraordinary individuals such as Friedrike Hauffe, brothers Adolphe and Alexi Didier, and many of the reported “somnambules” associated with Mesmerism and “phreno-mesmerism.” That is to say, the number of mesmerized individuals prone to demonstrating spectacular feats of psi declined as Spiritualism ascended, then new spirit-virtuosos appeared within a few decades using self-entrancement methods without the Mesmeric trappings.

As Spiritualism became a worldwide craze, the core ideas of Mesmerism passed from the scene by 1850, but hypnotic states continued to be explored by laypersons and the early psychologists. For the next five decades, psi feats seemed to limit themselves to individuals “in the Spirit,” those suffering extreme conversion disorders, “hysteria,” dissociation, or those under hypnotic trance, as evidenced by the research of physicians Jean-Martin Charcot, Charles Richet, psychologist William James, and philologist Frederic Myers.

As noted above, the spirit-mediums of the late 19th century needed no Mesmerist nor hypnotist to entrance them; they could induct themselves, perhaps through self-suggestion, to speak via the denizens of the Other Side. The most famous extemporaneous acts of remote viewing and telepathy in which the offered information could be verified were thoroughly checked out by Society for Psychical Research (SPR) members such as Richard Hodgson and Frank Podmore, both who started out as hardcore skeptics yet eventually became convinced of the human personality’s survival after death and the existence of telepathy, respectively.[13]

From 1884 to the 1920s, the SPR and its American counterpart preserved, annotated, and analyzed much anecdotal and experimental evidence for apparitions, telepathy, bilocation, and psychokinesis. By the 1920s, they had published many volumes of this evidence on mediums and psi phenomena.[14]

By the time the Spiritualist craze had apparently met its need and served its purpose, Upton Sinclair published a book on telepathy in 1930 called Mental Radio. The title says it all: Technology has increasingly become the lens through which we analogize psi phenomenon and prescribes the preferred method of verifying its existence: a machine…In other words, if it doesn’t show up on the scientists’ screen, or needle, or graph, it doesn’t exist.

And thus what we think of as reality constricts a little more.

It was also in 1930 that psi effects first came under strict scientific scrutiny in the laboratory experiments of J.B. and Louisa Rhine, eventually followed in the next decades by Charles Honorton, Hans Bender, Helmut Schmidt, Charles Tart, Robert Jahn, Brenda Dunne, Russell TargHal Puthoff, Dean Radin, and Daryl Bem who indisputably proved the existence of psi.

Through tight experiments that probed dice-throwing influence (psychokinesis/PK), random number generator control (PK), autoganzfeld (telepathy), and remote viewing (“traveling clairvoyance”), these researchers demonstrated cumulative average statistical results against chance for these phenomena by factors of hundreds of billions to one—to any reasonable person willing to examine their experiments.[15]

Case studies of extraordinarily talented mediums like D.D. Home or Leonora Piper became very rare. Where they did pop up in the 1920s onward (like “PK-boy” Rudi Schneider, “poltergeist girl” Eleonora Zugun, or remote viewer extraordinaire Stefan Ossowiecki), the ratio of skeptical greyfaces ready to declare “bullshit!” to the open-minded investigator was probably a hundred to one…so you tabulate the odds of “standard science” studying anything further in those fights.

But by 1950, say, mediums who communicated with the dead had mostly gone shut up to the cultural attic.[16] Why? Had the spirits on the other side abandoned this world? Mediums still practiced but it took the new, very “physical” flying saucer to re-fit the metaphysical messages of the seance room, and since these were ostensibly independently existing beings, anyone could potentially see and interact with a UFO.

At least this is how the main narrative at first seemed.


Ships are meant to float and move upon the waters; they are animated by the living force that animates all things here, and if we wish to move them over the water we have but to focus our thoughts in that direction…Our host handles his craft skillfully, and increasing and diminishing its speed he could create, by the different degree of movement of the water, the most striking alternations of color and a musical sound, the brilliant scintillations of the sea showing how alive it was. It responded to the boat’s every movement as though they were in complete unison—as indeed they were.

-medium Anthony Borgia, Life in the World Unseen, from 1914.[17]

Change “ship” to “spacecraft” and “water” to “atmosphere” or “space” in this declaration and it could read as part of a UFO contactee’s narrative, or even part of an alien abduction account.

So what is this all about? Spirits and aliens are the same?

Not exactly, but close. The same, but different.

Jacques Vallee’s conditioning-stimulus “scheduled reinforcement” process hypothesis provides a framework for understanding the changing face of the Otherworldly:[18] we get accustomed to one mask that appears to undermine our general orientation to reality; a numerical tipping point of humans come to believe in the phenomenon; then it changes its form, but ever reminds us of its presence—and symbolizes a further mystery we shall perhaps never explain but are goaded into coming to terms with.

Vallee points out that the UFO experiences (as much as we can be said to know them) cannot be separated from the media filters through which they pass, much like the signal-noise model of information he studied in his career as a computer scientist. Distortion of the actual phenomenon is inevitable for the human mind; these deformations are culturally shaped, and in turn feed back into society and help shape further instances of the phenomenon, whether it is conceived as entirely “physical” or “psychological” in origin. The distortion is always present, and the one definite factor certain to be in play.

The phenomenon itself is not directly observable, but its effects certainly are—specifically on cultural concepts of the “Other/Alien/ET,” by either creating new religious beliefs or altering existing ones. Both the phenomenon itself and the resultant forms created by the media feedback fulfil societal needs (and can also thus be manipulated by cult leaders or governmental agents).[19]

Vallee has many times pointed out the self-negating nature of UFO contactee’s claims, the always-ambiguous authenticity of landing traces, or the obvious fact that there has been a vast zoo of differing ET-entity appearances whose behaviors are many times in conflict with one another. Parasychologist John Beloff addressed this very problem of intractability (and perhaps absurdity, as Vallee so often puts it) when analyzing the history of parapsychological research:

One truth about psi phenomena which every parapsychologist learns the hard way is that they are not just elusive, in the sense of being difficult to pin down, they are, or at any rate they seem to be, actively evasive. One well-known contemporary experimentalist (William Braude) has spoken of the “self-obscuring” aspect of psi…By the 1940s mediumistic séances were “old hat” and the new respectable and sanitized parapsychology that J.B. Rhine had introduce at Duke University was all set to take the academic world by storm. But Rhine’s new science soon ran up against the same obstacle that had beset traditional psychical research—the evasiveness of the phenomena. The “new era” which Pawlovsky thought so imminent is still pending. Time and again since then it has looked as if parapsychology was poised to sweep away all the familiar doubts and objections, overcome all prejudice and opposition and take its rightful place in the spectrum of human knowledge but so far this aspiration remains still-born… What is it that makes psi so evasive? One possible answer lies in the fact that, more perhaps than any other psychological phenomenon, psi appears to be extremely sensitive to situational factors. It is more than just a question of the subject being in the right frame of mind. The whole cultural milieu in which the subject operates might influence decisively what is or is not possible for the subject to achieve.[20](emphasis added)

Beloff’s is the tack Vallee has often taken with regard to UFO interactions and their aftermath: the systems of cultural information (scientific, religious, social, material) plays a determining and invisible part in what is regarded as an anomalous message that transgresses the norms of that matrix. Incorporating the raw message, which to the contactee is entirely subjective or even spiritual, into the existing matrix is impossible without diluting/translating it—but this drawback is only possible through the current epistemology (and something we will address in the latter part of this essay). Beloff continues with a metaphor that parallels Vallee’s idea of the control system operating as a thermostat that is seeking equilibrium with itself by altering human behavior and conceptions of reality:

Let us, then, think of nature as one vast immune system. Paranormal phenomena, on this metaphor, correspond to infections comparable to the intrusion of viruses or bacilli into a healthy body. A new paranormal phenomenon for which there was no precedent, say table levitation or metal bending, would correspond to a powerful infection of this kind. The immune system of nature would go in to action with the result that such phenomena would thereafter be eliminated. But nature would still be helpless in the face of a new infection, and so a constant search for novelty would become the sine qua non of successful attempts to demonstrate whatever lies outside the normal course of nature or violates the laws of physics. Pursuing this metaphor, we may say that another method that would allow us to get away with the paranormal would be to introduce it in very dilute doses. In that case, the immune system of nature need never be activated just as in our own immune system very minor infections, as occurred with the vaccine, need not elicit any symptoms. This, indeed, seems to be the logic of much in current experimental parapsychology, such as attempts to bias the output of a random event generator. The drawback of that strategy, however, is the difficulty of a rousing any interest in such marginal results among those who are not professional parapsychologists.[21] (emphasis added)

The same of course applies to the subject of the ufologist: how can one gain the interest of mainstream scientists to study what amounts to an entirely unpredictable apparitional event?


The Hermetic Take on Guides from the Other Side

As Havan Blomqvist and others have noted,[22] Theosophists always claimed to have knowledge of—or even direct contact with—the Great Mahatmas of the Himalayas and other diversely named yet similar “ascended brotherhoods” (the Yucatan, the Great White Lodge, the Ellora, etc.) that are said to intervene in human affairs at times to guide our evolution. This claim is very similar to Beloff’s and Vallee’s control-system idea.

Hermetic scholar Jocelyn Godwin discusses the hidden hand of these spirit intelligences at work in the phenomena of Mesmerism, Spiritualism, and Theosophy, who also, by extension, continue to influence our culture through the UFO Space Brother.[23] This myth posits that these beings—or spirits—are said to take whatever form is needed and communicate cosmic truths via both traditional mediums and anomalous experiences. One can attempt contact with them through conventional methods such as meditation or entrancement, but as Vallee might argue the mode of contact for the technological West is now one of disruption of our materialist worldview via what appear to be technological marvels that defy physics and almost all known science—UFOs and how they alter our worldviews.

Contact with Other intelligences was once an accepted part of the natural order of social life via shamanistic practices before totalistic systems such as the monotheistic religions, science, and their resulting social pressures reframed and marginalized those worldviews and techniques. Now, contact is mediated through several layers. One cannot call upon aliens (Steven Greer’s claims notwithstanding) in the way séances once called upon the passed-on.

Or can we?

Betty Andreasson-Luca’s depictions of her experiences

As we’ve noted, by 1995, alien abductions had overwhelmingly become the media focus of the contact experience; abduction-related books outnumbered in both publishing and sale numbers all other aspects of the UFO phenomena.[24] Seeming genetic experiments upon percipients replaced space exploration hardware as the dominant narrative of these books.

In many abductions, the person undergoes a bedroom visitation by greys or other beings and is taken through the house walls into a circular room; many times, a UFO is not even seen, but only inferred by means of previous experiences, or the accounts of other experiencers.

The Others’ scientist-like activities tracked with advances in reproductive technology, yet the frequency of this particularly medical manifestation has apparently dwindled in public reports over the past decade.[25]

Contact has become entirely a matter of myths that use our technological metaphors of “upgraded DNA” and “psychic downloads” of information—what was once called spiritual evolution and “reading the Akashic record” in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

After studying the history of paranormal events, many investigators have noted that many persons who experience alien abductions also experience poltergeist-like elements in their lives.

In poltergeist events:

–there is usually a single focus person.

–the experiences often follow this individual around from location to location.

–a sense of a conscious, often malicious presence in a room is experienced prior to “main event” (it may produce bangings, flying objects, etc.)

–apparitions may be seen that are generally human-like in form.

–physical marks are left on the body and environment, i.e, presences that pinch, prick, or scratch the individuals. Fingerprints, “claw marks,” and scrape marks are sometimes seen in dust, furniture, clothes, or bed dressings, during the poltergeist attack.

–electrical interference occurs; lights, televisions, or radios will turn themselves on/off, lightbulbs burst, flicker, or strobe.

–levitation of objects (and, rarely, even persons) occurs.

–balls of light, often blue, are seen; blue flashes and “cold breezes” accompany some mediums’ trance states, such as Stella Cranshaw’s, that were accompanied by poltergeist-like physical effects, studied by the SPR in 1923-26.[26]

–hazes, often blue in color, are seen.
–objects may disappear (sometimes from locked or hidden places) and reappear in the open or in incongruous places (teleportation).

–objects, most often stones, seem to materialize or pass through solid objects such as walls. Often they are found to be warm or hot to the touch.

–“teleported” or “apported” objects (such as stones, cups, plates, etc.) are seen to make all sorts of impossible maneuvers mid-flight as they fall, such as zig-zags, parabolas, leaf-like motions, corkscrewing, hovering in mid-air—much in the manner many UFOs are observed to move in the sky.

–buzzing, crackling, or bell-like sounds may be heard; sometimes incomprehensible speech, groans, or screams.

–rarely, and perhaps circumstantially, animals have been found mutilated in surgically precise manners during poltergeist manifestations, suggesting a tentative connection to the link between UAP activity and animal, especially bovine, mutilations.

These poltergeist-specific phenomena parallel only some of the superficial features of abductions and UFO sightings…Nevertheless, these parallels are clear.

There is usually no “story” to a poltergeist infestation (a contrary view by sociologist Eric Ouellet can be found here).[27]

Abductions, on the other hand, involve a distinctive narrative that over time can acquire a deep meaning to both experiencer and their auditor(s) alike.

The important point is that both poltergeists and abductions involve escalations of the paranormal activity. In the poltergeist the intensification occurs in a short period of time, months at the most, while for the abductee it occurs over years, decades, or a lifetime. The latter seems to wane with the experiencer’s age.

Following Alan Gauld’s and A.D. Cornell’s criteria of comparison,[28] hauntings may contain some or even all of the poltergeist elements listed above, but they are location-specific, not person-centered.

Seeing apparitions is rare in poltergeist episodes, so there are general boundaries between hauntings and poltergeists. Yet alien abductions also unequivocally contain apparitional/haunting-like elements. In both:

–the entities/apparitions appear either suddenly or gradually materialize into sensible form from a haze or light; often the percipient feels the Others’ presence before sensibly interacting with them.

 — buzzing, crackling, bell-like, or humming/vibrating sounds may be heard at the outset of an abduction (this has occurred in a small minority of apparition appearances); conversely, a total dampening of sound often precedes or accompanies the apparition/alien.

–a sense of unreality precedes and accompanies the apparition; in abductions or UFO entity sightings, this depersonalization or derealization has been noted in many dozens of cases.

–a change in ambient temperature is very often noted.

–paralysis of the percipient is sometimes experienced in apparitional sightings, especially crisis apparitions wherein the “hallucinated” person has just died or is near death; in abductions, the experiencer almost universally finds themselves paralyzed while in bed.

–apparitions appear fully clothed, and sometimes with accompanying accessories (canes, sticks, bags, even horses, etc.); Otherworldly beings are almost always clothed and carry devices (“boxes,” “guns,” “wands,” etc.).

–apparitions, whether of the living or those near death, may appear imbedded within hallucinatory scenes that are veridical, that is, they are later verified as the actual surroundings of the “sender” at the time of the percipient’s experience; similarly, abduction experiencers report holographic or televisual scenes that float as if being emitted from disembodied screens, or are immersive, augmented-reality-like programs. (Sometimes these screens’ appearance precedes the abduction, and in some reports incongruous beings or people, like figures of Jesus or a similar protective deity, have been reported to show up in the midst of an abduction).

–a message is often transmitted from the apparition, aurally or telepathically.

–conversations with apparitions can either be aural or telepathic, but mostly the latter.

–many times, UFOs or apparitions are seen by only a few persons present in a group setting of potential percipients; in UFO sightings (and even abductions), sometimes only the abductee(s) in the group see(s) the UFO (and may subsequently undergo an abduction experience). There are many cases of apparitions that appear to one or two people within a group of more potential percipients.

With their massive study Phantasms of the Living (1886), SPR investigators Edmund Gurney and Frederic Myers came to speculate that apparitions (especially of the crisis-type that occur within 24 hours of the “ghost’s” death) were the result of a telepathic transmission from the “crisis agent” to the friend/acquaintance percipient (and even multiple percipients).

Mathematician and physicist G.N.M Tyrrell further developed a hypothesis that involved the conception of an idea-pattern[29] that is projected from the agent that may affect one or more targeted persons in a drama.[30]

Tyrrell’s idea of the apparitional drama is based upon studies of hallucination and a crucial distinction he makes between the sense-data perceived by the brain and the physical objects that may cause the sense-data. In his scheme, physical objects may or may not produce sense-data, despite their being within one’s sensory field.

Tyrrell’s conception is meant to be a general philosophical basis for the astonishing examples of hallucination of which the human mind is capable, as Oliver Sacks describes in his book on the subject.

For Tyrrell, our subjective experiences are simply the sense-data that appear in the mind, regardless of whether they are physically caused by objects in the outer world or not. On his definition, dreams, hypnagogic imagery, daydreams, and hallucinations are all sub-groupings of possible sense-data.

These seemingly disparate mental states may or may not help the successful management of meeting life’s needs; the focused “center” that primarily assists in self-preservation we call the ego is, for Tyrrell (and Myers) at once more akin to a stream with multiple subconscious ideas and affects active within it at all times.

An apparition for Tyrrell is a construction of sense-data co-created by sender (agent) and the percipient(s). It may behave in every way like a physical object, interact with the environment, even be touched, but is not physically present. Any interaction between the apparition and its environment that may leave a physical trace Tyrrell tentatively puts down to possible psychokinesis on the part of the percipient.

During events in which the apparition appears solid, elements of the percipient’s environment must be hallucinated as well—in this case, it is called a “negative hallucination” and plays a crucial part in the perceived apparition (this accounts for how an apparition can block out the space/objects behind it to conform to the percipient’s three-dimensional space).

Tyrrell’s idea was further developed by parapsychologist Celia Green into the concept of a metachoric hallucination,[31] in which the percipient’s mind might generate the whole of one’s surroundings—sense-data that overwrite the direct perception of the environment, attitudes, and even actions while perceiving the apparition. According to Green, it is conceivable the percipient is simply still lying down, still in a chair, or even standing, mildly entranced, while unconsciously producing the entire experience. Essentially, it is as if one suddenly enters a waking dream state.

This peculiar state can make the sense-data amenable to drastic alteration by a force other than the percipient’s conscious ego.

The force that shapes these alterations, which may be conjectured to also be the force behind UFOs, some human apparitions, images of the passed-on, otherworldly beings, has not yet been specified—for our present stage of science lacks a developed vocabulary of “topological” concepts to bridge and map the mental, physical, and third space in which such events may be said to occur (which has been given countless names over the centuries, from Plato’s realm of Forms to Myers’s “metetherial field” to the Imaginal world of Sufi mystics).

Apparition experiences may seem random, although 90% of the time the apparition’s identity is not unknown to the witness (and the connection to a crisis for the sender-agent has been noted). Poltergeist victims may seem random as well, but psychological explanations have been put forward regarding unconscious and overwhelming psychological stress on the victims, especially for pubescent children and teenagers, as the source of the psychokinetic events in as many as half of the solid cases.

In both cases, for the witnesses/victims, neither willpower nor choice is apparently involved. What, then, if anything, may be conjectured to connect these two manifestations?

There happens to be a class of person that bridges the two manifestations: the physical medium.

Discounting the many hundreds of frauds that have been uncovered by investigators, there remain four compelling individuals whose careers attest to the concept of “controllable PK”: Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886), Indridi Indridason (1883-1912), Rudi Schneider (1908-1957), and Nina Kulagina (1926-1990). Please see my essay on Wikipedia’s attempted debunking of Home and Indridason for in-depth narratives of their talents. 

Home’s performances were witnessed by thousands of persons, including eminent scientists and heads of state across Europe. He was never caught in fraud and his physical phenomena never seriously debunked. Indridason unfortunately died at 28 after six years of strenuous and spiritually taxing physical mediumship. His seances were witnessed by a few hundred persons, the core of these being a small investigative society specially set up to study him.[32] Both Home and Indridason produced spectacular light manifestations; poltergeist-like rappings, poundings, flying objects; full and partial bodily materializations of spirits who interacted with the present séance sitters; wind gusts in closed rooms, some lasting as long as 20 seconds; physical contact by invisible hands; and, most spectacularly, full bodily levitation (in both cases their bodies rose above six feet into the air before witnesses)…Home and Indridason claimed the “possessing” spirits were wholly responsible for the observed phenomena, using the men’s material-bodily energies to produce the psychokinetic displays. Physical and mental exhaustion resulted after these long seances in which they produced a spectrum of the activities.

Rudi Schneider was examined and tested by under some of the strictest controls imaginable (total physical restraint in many cases) and still he produced PK effects around him.[33] In several instances, infrared beams were used to detect any attempt at his releasing himself from the restraints and moving objects in the lab. However, the beams were broken while he was still trussed up and at the same time his “control spirit” announced its projection of PK energy to move the target object.

At the more extreme ends of pseudoskepticism, debunkers put forth mass hallucination by the witnesses as an explanation, or some kind of “group hypnosis” on the mediums’ part. Such waving away the problem is almost as supernatural an explanation as purported spirit manifestation.

If we grant that people with these talents exist, can exhibit and, to a degree, control psychokinetic manifestations (whether by subconscious energies or “spirits”), what is the likelihood that certain persons exist (and always have existed) who can create, say, lightforms that are actually a type of “Imaginary thought-form”?

And what if these psychically-produced forms can exhibit an independence of their creators?

Anne Whitley

From 1987-1991, Anne Strieber had been helping her husband Whitley read through the thousands of letters he’d received after the publication of his bestsellers Communion and Transformation. They found that many people were mentioning encountering “aliens” during Near Death Experiences, or images of their passed-on loved ones during abductions. Anne said to him, “this is about the dead”—giving her husband a founding revelation as to the meaning of his strange experiences.[34]

Eventually Strieber remembered seeing a childhood friend who had passed on during his first recalled abduction experience in 1986, and, although he has never considered himself a medium as such, has had extended interactions with the passed-on and “ghost-like persons”[35] for over 40 years.

From 1989-90 onward he looked at the Visitors (as he has always called them) as some sort of communication conduit to our own evolution. This has become a common idea in the experiencer and channeling communities, and was accepted dogma to Theosophists and contactees such as Guy Ballard and George King.[36]

In Part 2 of this essay, we will examine how technology has now become an dominant metaphor for the transmission of messages and humanity itself.


[1] See Vallee’s Passport to Magonia and other works, and Keel’s Operation Trojan Horse.

[2] For even one of these reports to be taken as the truth, we have to conjecture that a very strong form of mental suggestion was at work at the least. Fair enough. But if multiple good witnesses were present at such a display, what are we to make of the physical manifestations?

[3] This “vocabulary of divine movement” is, strangely enough, echoed in the series The OA, in which the protagonists’ magic motions are learned during near-death experiences.

[4] See The Shaker Experience in America by Stephen J. Stein, Yale University Press, 1992, pgs. 165-200.

[5] Gauld, Alan. A History of Hypnotism, Cambridge University Press, 1995, 41-49, 53-57, 62-64, 79, 103, 107, 143-44, 165, 252-53.

[6] See Brown, Slater. The Heyday of Spiritualism, Pocket Books, 1972, pgs. 84-110.

[7] Gauld, pgs. 141-155.

[8]Ibid, pgs. 85-86, 103, 137-38, 146-9, 151-53, 182, 234-39.  

[9] Saturnine spirits or “gods” figure as the focus of many religions, like the Nommo, teachers of the Dogon of Mali. In their case, the Dogon claimed the Nommo are now in “hibernation” in a vehicle or moon around Saturn but originally came from Sirius.

[10] Gauld, 1995, pg. 191.

[11] UFO researchers who believe that physical ET craft are visiting earth are mostly astronomers, engineers, physicists, etc.—those who adhere to the materialist mindset. They predictably scoffed at Layne’s explanation for the ET interlopers. Most of our religious and physicalist-oriented society ridiculed both camps of ET believers. A hierarchy of the damned (as Charles Fort might have put it) came into being regarding the origin of UFOs, and in the 1950s, the lowest in the food chain was the quasi-Theosophist channeler of ET wisdom.

[12] This has a parallel in general psi studies, called the decline effect, which occurs to individuals who may initially score high against chance in tests, then eventually revert back to the average. The decline in spectacular séance phenomena, at least as recorded by parapsychological associations, seems to be a collective manifestation of this same statistical effect, and plays into Vallee’s idea of an intermittent schedule reinforcement.

[13] Excluding today’s popular spirit channels such as John Edwards (who never submit to SPR-like experimental strictures), where are such persons who, were they test subjects, would by all accounts easily challenge the physicalist paradigm? One could make the case that Edgar Cayce, Stefan Ossowiecki, Uri Gellar, Ted Owens, Ingo Swann, Hella Hamid, Joseph McMoneagle, or the talented SRI remote viewers have been our contemporary equivalents, but none except Cayce (and sometimes Gellar) required a trance. Most achieved their psi-conducive states either consciously, that is willfully, or through self-suggested mild trance. In the 1970s-1990s the US military and intelligence agencies secretly entered the psi research field via the Stanford Research Institute/NASA/CIA remote viewing programs and the DIA’s Project Stargate (of which McMoneagle was the central psychic). This originated partly in reaction to similar Soviet programs at the time—a clandestine “psychic arms race,” as SRI coordinator Russell Targ put it. I’d submit these projects are still ongoing, and thus the most talented individuals have been sought and vacuumed up (perhaps even on a worldwide scale) by these secret programs for the intelligence/military agencies’ exclusive use, probably for significant remuneration as “contractors.”

[14] For anyone inclined with an open mind to read through this voluminous case-study research and analysis, it is pretty clear that the strict materialist model of reality must be bullshit.

[15] Carter, Chris. Science and Psychic Phenomena: The Fall of the House of Skeptics, Inner Traditions, 2012, pgs. 63-65, 70-71, 76-77, 82-104.

[16] Seances were old hat and wouldn’t make good television. Is this transformation to invisibility just an artifact of how radically media changed forms? An “information glut,” although of a slower pace, existed before the internet threw everything at us at once; thousands of magazines competed for attention, mass market paperbacks made home libraries cheaper, and television flooded the living room with visions of what life was supposed to be like. Invisible though were its electromagnetic means, radio and TV mass media were compelled by market forces to focus on the tangibles of the world: war, politics, economics, scandals, social movements, etc.  Combined with the unspoken embargo on promoting religious views, the media offered no outlet to the “alternative altars” of countercultural spirituality that nevertheless existed (and flourished in some places).

[17] Anthony Borgia, Life in the World Unseen, Corgi Books/Transworld Publications, 1970

[18] Vallee, Jacques. Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact, Anomalist Books, 2008, pgs. 271-281; The Invisible College, Anomalist Books, 2014, pgs. 194-206.

[19] See Vallee’s Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults. Also Diana Walsh Pasulka’s American Cosmic and M.J. Banias’s UFO People. 

[20] Beloff, John. Parapsychology: A Concise History, pgs. 231-32.

[21] Ibid, pg. 233.



[24] The Gods Have Landed, State University of New York Press, 1995, James R. Lewis, ed.; from the essay “Religious Dimensions of the UFO Abductee Experience” by John Witmore, pg. 66.

[25] Although there continue to be self-published abduction memoirs, by the millennium the mainstream publishing industry had moved on. Another reason for this may be that since roughly the year 2000, abduction experiencers have shunned reporting the experiences to scientists or psychologists or therapists and turned instead to the communities of other experiencers on the internet.

[26] See Wilson, Colin. Poltergeist! A Study in Destructive Haunting, Putnam, 1982, pgs. 278-79, and the case of Icelandic mediumIndridi Indridason.

[27] That is, unless some “deceased person” is found to be associated with the site or attached to the focus person, or a crime against the focus person is revealed by subsequent/concurrent therapeutic procedures with the focus. One theory holds that a discharge of repressed psychic energy through therapeutic abreaction often causes the poltergeist activity to cease. But it does cease, unlike those abduction experiencers who report the events continuing for years or even decades.

[28] Gauld, Alan and Cornell, A.D. Poltergeists, White Crow Books, 2018, pgs. 176-180, 188-89, 202-207, 283-84.

[29] Tyrrell, G.N.M. Apparitions, Collier Books, 1963, pgs. 110-114.

[30] Tyrrell, (1963) pgs. 102-127, 131-34.

[31] Green, Celia, and McCreery, Charles, Apparitions, Hamilton Press, 1975; Green and McCreery, Lucid Dreaming, Routledge, 1994; UFOs: The Final Answer? Ufology for the 21St Century, Barclay, David and therese Marie, eds., Blandford Press, 1993, pgs. 130-153.

[32] See Haraldsson, Erlendur and Gissurarsson, Loftur R. Indridi Indridason: The Icelandic Physical Medium, White Crow Books, 2015, for a full account of Indridi’s short but astounding career.

[33] Schneider

[34] Strieber, Whitley and Kripal, Jeffrey J. The Super Natural: A New Vision of the Unexplained, Jeremy P. Tarcher, Penguin, 2016, pgs. 37, 53, 82.

[35] See Strieber’s book The Key, in which, while on a book tour in 1998, he had a late-night visit from an anonymous man who communicated to him revelations, not unlike a spirit-guide or Carl Jung’s daemon Philemon.

[36] We might examine the overlap between poltergeist/hauntings and fairy/djinn encounters (the evidence for which there is plenty), but that would involve a monumental cross-cultural comparison. All we can say is that the maturation of scientific classification systems from the 18th to 20th centuries allowed distinctions to be made between apparitions, hauntings, fairy/djinn encounters, and the poltergeist. And for the past 70 years we have had UFOs and “alien beings” to add to the unexplained. The folk division between the fairy-daemon and the dead was always indistinct, from antiquity to the beginning of the 20th century. (See the works of Katherine Briggs, Thomas Keightley, Reverend Robert Kirk, and W.Y. Evans-Wentz). Fairies’ status as the “dead awaiting salvation” (as one fairy in an encounter tale openly admits) caused the Protestant elite no small manner of discomfort, because it paralleled the Catholic belief in Purgatory. The middle ground between binarities must be excluded, in religion as well as science. Let’s just say that what always distinguished human ghosts from the Good People was the fairies’ interests in partying and dancing, staying aloof from humans who disrespected them, and kidnapping people to marry or—especially—have sex with them to hybridize a new kind of being, one perhaps closer to full corporeality.

Old Wine in New Skins, Part 2: The New Dispensation of the Non-Human Intelligence (NHI) vs. Natural Human Creativity

Spear Machine

If things like this are going to happen, the ladies will be afraid to sleep alone in the house if so much as a sewing-machine or apple-corer be about.

                           —P.T. Barnum, 1855, referring to John Murray Spear’s Machine

In popular current, some people now refer to “extraterrestrials” as “non-human intelligences” (NHI), and “contact modalities” (CM) can be used for human interaction with them.

The nebulous concept of contact modalities is wide enough to encompass what we call synchronicities, NDEs, OBEs, vivid “unwilled” daydreams, intense hypnagogic visions, or conscious encounters with traditional beings such as elementals, earth-spirits, and fairies.


Diana Pasulka & Jacques Vallée

In her recent book American Cosmic,[1] religion scholar Diana Pasulka speaks of this Otherworldly communication phenomenon in the cases of NASA aerospace engineer Timothy Taylor and geneticist Dr. Gary Nolan (“Tyler D” and “James” respectively in the text).

Taylor received “transmissions” from meditative procedures. Designs or concepts for biomedical technologies occurred unbidden in his mind during these processes. He apparently linked these ideas’ irruption to NHIs.

It started for him when he had a strange experience in the aftermath of the Challenger disaster: a memory that a military-proposed experiment on the next shuttle Columbia would work—which it eventually did, but he hadn’t even proposed it yet. He traces this “anomalous reception” to being exposed to a type of energy at a “very special facility” at NASA after briefly leaving then returning to the Administration:

“There was something in (that special room) that either emitted frequencies or signals and they didn’t want those to escape or they didn’t want signals to get in. I never knew which. It was a mysterious place, and we weren’t allowed to talk about it.”

 That room, Tyler felt, zapped him with energy that changed the “frequencies” of his body and his thoughts. It was after this experience that he began to have more “memories” of bio-medical technologies.

 In the program, I started to find myself on jobs where I interfaced directly with the phenomenon. I know its language. It does speak to us, in space. I don’t know who is responsible for putting me on those on these jobs. I think that somehow they are responsible for it. My own direct boss doesn’t know what I do. This is how the program works.”[2]

Eventually Taylor came to believe that NHIs communicate with persons via a field connected to the energies surrounding DNA.

Gary Nolan had classic abduction experiences while young and in his 30s but kept them secret, apparently, until the past few years. He, too, holds many patents and believes some of his idea-germs to be of non-human origin.

Currently, Taylor and Nolan are pursuing an informational “DNA-antenna” model to potentially explain paranormal phenomena. Along with ex-(?)CIA physician Christopher “Kit” Green, Nolan is investigating MRI scans and the genomes of contactees and experiencers for DNA markers that may predispose them to undergoing the contact modalities.[3]

Pasulka links Taylor’s and Nolan’s experiences with testimony given to her by astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, who founded the Institute for Noetic Sciences and Foundation (1973-present) and the Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial Encounters (FREE). FREE uses and seeks to establish contact with NHIs using the various contact modalities.

FREE was founded in 2012 by Mitchell, astrophysicist Dr. Rudy Schild, therapist Mary Rodwell, and attorney Rey Hernandez.

In March 2012, Hernandez had an experience (including missing time) involving a “plasma-like being” in his house that healed the family’s dying pet terrier; his wife Dulce described it as an angel, because she had been intensely praying for the dog. Dulce Hernandez then witnessed UFOs (her “angels”) regularly for several months…One night in August 2012 Rey, on a lark, “called down” an enormous craft witnessed by neighbors, friends, and family.

Then driving to work one morning soon after this he received a vision of the contact modalities all arrayed out as spokes in a wheel and seen during what he describes as an out-of-body experience.

This vision so energized Hernandez that he emailed ET abduction/contactee therapist Mary Rodwell, who put him in contact with Rudy Schild, then through Schild, Edgar Mitchell, with whom he ended up having a meeting that very day (Mitchell lived close by).

Within 72 hours of Hernandez’s OBE experience the groundwork had been laid for FREE (in both their views, this was further evidence of a kind of collaboration with these higher intelligences).

Schild became the science advisor and Mitchell would set up the new organization, which would primarily study consciousness with reference to “anomalous cognition” using Mitchell’s quantum hologram theory of physics and consciousness as a model. It has since brought in dozens of researchers including channeling expert Jon Klimo, Dr Joseph Burkes, and perhaps members of the “invisible college” such as Jacques Vallee.[4] Five years of field work canvassing experiencers produced a book on contact with non-human intelligences.[5]

Is this just a new-coined interpretation of natural inspiration during or after the fact?

We have no idea in the least how human imagination and creativity work, let alone how a non-human intelligence would mix with or add to it.

But we do know this: no new idea exists or springs from a vacuum. Except for anecdotes about geniuses such as Leonardo, Ramanujan, Nikola Tesla, and Buckminster Fuller, ideas usually do not spring fully-formed and translatable to paper in the human psyche. When they have done so in the UFO/NHI community since the 1950s, they’ve often been laughable mish-mashes of misunderstood or fantasy science.

The idea of a technology being gifted by higher powers is one of the oldest human myths, and Pasulka elaborates on the myth in the context of Silicon Valley. Much of it involves information theory and DNA, fields, and transmission, in which the arrow of signification is dangerously reversed by literalizing the metaphors between biology and machines.

In Pasulka’s and our contexts, NHI intervention would seem to undermine the idea of the personal ownership of new creations; the inventor instead becomes the “receiver” or “discoverer” of intellectual property.

Such a humble concept becoming accepted in today’s Silicon Valley has the likelihood of Squeaky Fromme making parole.

Pasulka mentions the “extended cognition” that our computers are making possible and believes this mirrors the talk of “Oneness” in traditional mysticism.[6]

Again, none of this is really new. It is just that inventions indistinguishable from magic are now so widespread that they are almost met with yawns…

John Spear

Consider the fate of Unitarian minister John Murray Spear. After recuperating from a severe beating by thugs in Portland, Maine that put him in a coma, he encountered Andrew Jackson Davis’s work in 1846.

While experimenting with seances in 1851—in true utopist fashion—Spear proclaimed that Spiritualist commune with discarnate intelligences was humanity’s future.

Following his spirit guides’ commands to the letter, he formed an organization consisting of six groups: the Healthfulizers, Educationalizers, Agriculturalizers, Elementizers, Governmentizers, and the Electricizers. As the chosen head of the Electricizers, Spear voraciously channeled the American Founders and, after nine months of trance communications in 1853, claimed to obtain from the spirit of Benjamin Franklin plans for a perpetual energy machine whose fuel was something called the “New Motive Power.”

The machine would grant “life” to other devices via the Mesmeric “electric fluid” and further, could replicate itself or any object one needed—basically, it was a biomechanical 3D nano-printer envisioned in 1854. This device was meant to free humankind from labor.


Through Spear the spirits had chosen to build the machine in a stone cottage upon the hill High Rock in Lynn, Massachusetts—a fitting locale, for two years earlier, channeler Andrew Jackson Davis had a spiritual blowout in which he’d seen angels congregating in the clouds above that hill.

The motor required nine months of “gestation.” A bizarre quasi-alchemical, transhumanistic ritual birthed the working machine: the physical part, having been finished in June 1854, was subject to a laying on of hands by several groups of semi-magnetized persons; then Spear was encased inside the machine in layers of metallic strips of “positive and negative polarity” within a grid of jewels and precious metals, where he went into a trance and emitted a glowing umbilicus from his body that engulfed the machine, to the amazement of his confederates.

Next, a Mrs. Newton, wife of a journalist chosen by the spirits, was to “mother” the half-living contraption—and duly showed signs of physical pregnancy in response. The spirits dictated that she appear at the High Rock house on a certain day to literally give birth to the accumulated energies gathered within her and transfer them to the machine—which she did, showing for several hours the agony of parturition.

The emanations from her body mixed with the chemical auras of the device. Then “its purpose and results were wholly incomprehensible to all but herself; but her own perceptions were clear and distinct that in these agonizing throes the most interior and refined elements of her spiritual being were imparted to, and absorbed by, the appropriate portions of the mechanism—its minerals having been made peculiarly receptive by previous chemical processes,” Reverend S. Crosby Hewitt wrote.

She then spent weeks “nursing” the machine with the New Motive Power. After this, its rotors and bearing supposedly began to work—but not enough to impress any visiting Spiritualists, who opined the motion they witnessed was “not enough to turn a coffee mill.” Davis himself, while praising Spear and his community’s faith, believed Spear to have been misled in principles of science and explained the machine’s weak motions to random fluctuations in the “ether” via the electrical generator to which it was attached.

When asked by Spear and his mediums, Benjamin Franklin & co. answered from the other side in a typically tricksterish way: while the motor didn’t operate properly in the physical sphere, it had succeeded in moving opinion and the spiritual outlook of humanity.

At the spirit cadre’s bidding, the machine was dismantled and taken to Randolph, New York. After having moved it, the machine survived only a few months in its new atmosphere; a mob broke into the room and destroyed it. As Spiritualist journalist S.B. Brittan concluded, “if the New Motor is to be the physical savior of the race, it will probably rise again.”[7]

Spear’s was a Silicon Valley utopian dream 150 years too early. It could be asked, was Spear having precognitive visions of our present inventions? Were NHIs feeding him these ideas in the guise of the Founders—that is, the “best moral and intellectual” persons of which he could conceive?

We will never know, but the contemporary parallel with non-human intelligences seeding minds with technological ideas is striking. Perhaps these Others do possess a kind of physical existence, and perhaps they are much closer than we realize.

Fifteen years after Spear’s fiasco, Utica, New York “electro-alchemist” Cyrus Reed Teed would experiment with exposing himself to dangerously high electrical currents. During one session, “I bent myself to the task of projecting into tangibility the creative principle. Suddenly, I experienced a relaxation at the occiput or back part of the brain, and a peculiar buzzing tension at the forehead or sinciput; succeeding this was a sensation as of a Faradic battery of the softest tension, about the organs of the brain called the lyra, crura pinealis, and conarium. There gradually spread from the center of my brain to the extremities of my body, and, apparently to me, into the auric sphere of my being, miles outside of my body, a vibration so gentle, soft, and dulciferous that I was impressed to lay myself up on the bosom of this gently oscillating ocean of magnetic and spiritual ecstasy. I realized myself gently yielding to the impulse of reclining upon this vibratory sea of this, my newly found delight. My every thought but one had departed from the contemplation of earthly and material things. I had but a lingering, vague remembrance of natural consciousness and desire.”[i]


The zapping produced an OBE-like state. Immediately after this, by force of galvanized will, he called forth “the ultimate power in the universe” to guide him: a beautiful goddess who was the “Father, Mother” who materialized from a mist to give Teed his mission on earth. And also revealed the truth that the earth’s surface actually curves into a perfect concavity containing the sun, moon, stars and rest of the visible universe. Yes, the earth is hollow—but the rest of the cosmos is nestled within it:

“The universe is a cell, a hollow globe, eternally and perpetually renewing itself by virtue of involution and evolution and all life exists on its inner concave surface.

God being perfect is both male and female—a biune being, and personal to every individual.

Matter and energy are inter-convertible. Matter is destructible, resulting in transmutation of its form to energy and conversely, from energy to form.

Reincarnation is the central law of life—one generation passing into another with all humanity flowing down the stream of life together.

Heaven and hell constitute the spiritual world. That is, they are mental conditions and within mankind.

The Bible is the best written expression of the divine mind but is written symbolically. The symbolism must be interpreted by a prophet, who would appear in every age and in the context of that age.

Man lives best by communal principles to correspond with the primitive Christian church. The Koreshan form of socialism would be the expression of the natural laws of order, to include the elimination of money power and wage slavery.

Equity, not equality, is a natural law for women as for men. There is no equality, and to see any two people are equal is merely trying to enforce uniformity.

Dr. Teed indicated there was a great deal more knowledge that had been imparted to his mental consciousness, but he felt the ordinary minds of mortals could not immediately comprehend or evaluate it. It would be presented to the world in time.”[ii]

Apparently, Cyrus Teed received what is typically now called a “download” of which a major part could not be translated into human language.

[i] Teed, Cyrus. The Illumination of Koresh: Marvelous Experiences of the Great Alchemist 30 years ago, at Utica, New York, Chicago, Guiding Star Publishers.

[ii] Sarah Weber Rea, The Koreshan Story, Guiding Star Publication House, 1994.

On the other hand…

An Excursion into Natural Human Creativity, Involuntary/Automatic Imagination, and St. Nick  

Kenneth Ring’s abduction experiencer profile fits that of many trance mediums, persons who can receive both self-willed and spontaneous imaginary material with more ease than a non-dissociative person.[8]

Because of the dissociative states to which they are prone, the experiencer/medium possesses minimal to no conscious control over the images that may appear in their mind, and the images that do appear are far more vivid and longer-lasting for them than in the general population.

Spontaneous creative activity can often involve controlled dissociation rituals that partially or completely efface the conscious personality and, paradoxically, through this constricting of the normal ego, make its “reception bands” wider for the intrusion of unexpected material, whether it takes aural, verbal, visual, or physical (automatic writing) forms.

An artist, for instance, may welcome these intrusions and a musician may revel in them. For creative persons, an element of intention is obviously present in the execution of the final product. What we call creativity in general, and the types of work evaluated as genius-level, involves a special state of consciousness that allows material to flow into the artist’s or scientist’s mind:

“(Frederic Myers) linked genius with the classical notion of inspiration, saying that an “inspiration of genius” is a “subliminal uprush,” an emergence into supraliminal consciousness of ideas that the person has “not consciously originated, but which have shaped themselves beyond his will, in profounder regions of his being” (Human Personality Vol. 1, page 71). Another central element of creativity for Myers was the integration of ideas arising from subliminal regions with those of the supraliminal self, the “utilization of a greater proportion of man’s psychical being in subservience to ends desired by his supraliminal control” (HP, Vol. 1, pg. 155). The outcome of the creative process is something intended and desired by the supraliminal, and the supraliminal does plays a key role in the completion of what begins with a subliminal uprush. The heart of the creative process is an automatism, but its combination and completion occur in the realm of the supraliminal. Thus, creativity is a highly desirable integration of the two aspects of the psyche and an instance of superior functioning. It is also an indication of what the human soul is capable of, because there is a hint of something “beyond,” “something incommensurable” with “the results of conscious logical thought” (Vol. 1, pg. 98).” [9] (emphasis added)

Mystics historically also have cultivated methods of altering their physiological and mental states to enter trance that brings their consciousness closer to the “source,” or God, such as extreme fasting, repetitive prayer, or self-mortification. Michael Talbot discusses the Sufis’ repetitive meditational practices of creative visualization meant to bring about both contact with Allah and materialize His emanations of an alternate reality:

“(The Sufis) held that it is a world created solely out of the subtle matter of alam almithal, or thought. Even space itself, including ‘nearness,’ ‘distances,’ and ‘far-off’ places, was created by thought. But this does not mean that the country of the hidden Imam was unreal, a world constituted out of sheer nothingness. Nor was it a landscape created by only one mind. Rather it was a plane of existence created by the imagination of many people, and yet one that still had its own corporeality and dimension, its own forests, mountains, and even cities. The Sufis devoted a good deal of their writings to the clarification of this point. So alien is this idea to many Western thinkers that the late Henry Corbin, a professor of Islamic religion at the Sorbonne in Paris and a leading authority on Iranian-Islamic thought, coin the term imaginal to describe it, meaning a world that is created by imagination but is ontologically no less real than physical reality…Because of the imaginal nature of the afterlife realm, the Sufis concluded that imagination itself is a faculty of perception, an idea that offers new light on why (psychotherapist Joel) Whitton’s subject materialized a hand only after he started thinking, and why visualizing images has such a potent effect on the health and physical structure of our bodies. It also contributed to the Sufis belief that one could use visualization, a process they called ‘creative prayer,’ to alter and reshape the very fabric of one’s destiny.” [10]

This reiterates the theory of Romantic poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge and the 18th-19th Century poets’ conception of the Imagination. Consider this famous quote from Coleridge:

The Primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and is a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary imagination I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to re-create or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still, at all events, it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.[11]

The current ideas of a non-human extraterrestrial intelligence both figuratively and literally alienate the natural human ability to produce novel ideas (signals) that have been filtered down from the noise of the total consciousness, supraliminal and subliminal, of humanity. Is there a genuine justification to externalize these intrusions to a non-human type of consciousness?

When in trance or mild dissociation, the resting state of a brain’s filtering mechanism is altered to a degree.[12] This allows material that is, to use a metaphor, a mental/aural snapshot of something outside the normal boundaries of personal egoic habitation. Much of the brain’s activity, on both synaptic-neuronal and hemispheric/sectional levels, functions in inhibitory ways to make possible what is considered smooth conscious functioning. The study of damage to a tiny area of the brain can reveal the ostensibly global function that area controls with regard to normal consciousness; collectively accumulated over a century, this catalog of functions helps us understand the productive or inhibitory scheme of the human cognitive world with regard to the brain.

In this way the physical aspects of certain base-level filtering mechanisms have been mapped. Blood flow, electrical activity, and coherent communication between hemispheres all contribute to the norm, of course, but tissue death, damage, or anesthesia can produce states similar to hypnosis, hypnagogia, dreams, or OBEs—and also extraordinary feats of psi activity. The original mesmerists and hypnotists of the 19th century proposed models of the hypnoid mesmeric state that implicated general loss of integrated brain and nervous system functioning during the self-healing, remote healing, telepathy, clairvoyance, and even psychokinesis observed in various patients and volunteer subjects.[13]

There seems to be a general principle, in line with Myers’s thinking, that for every physical loss of a brain function that produces a physical compensation there are ancillary effects to behavior that are sometimes extraordinary.

Neurophysiologist Karl Pribram once puzzled over neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield’s “engram” conjecture that everything ever experienced by a person is recorded in the brain’s trillionfold complex of connections. Penfield had electrically stimulated parts of epileptics’ brains while they were in surgery and received detailed accounts of memory replays (engrams) from earlier moments in the patients’ lives, sometimes going back to early childhood.[14]

Pribram’s work with psychologist Karl Lashley added to the mystery: Lashley had discovered that maze-running rats could still remember the paths they’d figured out despite having both the memory and learning portions of their brains removed—and even having the entire organ rearranged in their skulls. This indicated that the physical substrate was not where the engrams of experience reside. At the very least, memories are distributed throughout the entire brain and can be retrieved despite damage to the areas where they should reside.

Consider the fact that animals, including humans, can still competently function with severe physical brain damage and even without fully formed brains. In cerebellar agenesis, a person is born with an incomplete or even entirely missing cerebellum, which controls motor movement of the limbs and the ability to speak. Yet there are people born with cerebellar agenesis who function relatively normally, such as the Chinese woman found in 2014, where these capacities are only impaired and not entirely absent, as should be the case if the substrate was entirely responsible for the motor competency.[15] There are also startling examples such as the man who suffered from hydrocephaly when a child; at 44, in 2007, he was discovered to have only 30-50% of his brain intact, the rest being simply cerebrospinal fluid. He had an IQ of 75 and led a normal life until the discovery.[16] A boy born in Scotland in 2013 with only a brainstem and a fluid-filled skull is now six and can speak, despite the medical opinion that he should still have only the capacities of a newborn. Another child born in 2014 lacks both a skull and brain and could speak rudimentarily.[17]

These cases obviously at least imply that something more than the physical brain is the key to understanding consciousness and memory; physicalist science has no answer yet as to how these people can function.

An obvious hypothesis is that consciousness does not reside in or is produced by the brain but is filtered via brain structures from a “field” of possible conscious experience, as Myers hinted. This is idea with a long pedigree and has been much denigrated by mainstream scientists since the 19thcentury.


Creativity may involve a narrowing of the physical markers (brain activities) of normal consciousness that produce a corresponding expansion of access to another part of the mind—or even another kind of consciousness altogether.

I believe Coleridge and Corbin are speaking of an energy field we may call (adapting Celia Green’s coinage) the metachoria and the specific images that emerge from it into consciousness (and back again into “unconsciousness”) metachores.

Metachores such as the “heavenly cities” created by the Sufi) are invested with meditational energies both mental and emotional. They may be equivalent to the Buddhist concept of the energies that create an emanation body by prodigious psychic focus over a long period.

Moreover, these images may appear as unwilled and spontaneous in anyone’s consciousness, but the artist as a trained receiver may be able to capture and develop them.

This capacity, of course, comes with repeated practice and discipline. A metachoric impression may linger only temporarily in the short-term memory. This is what causes the distraction so common to a creative person; in the middle of a conversation they may struggle, multitasking, to remember and clarify the sudden intruding idea as the brain produces the proteins to store it in long-term form. The napkin sketch, the pocket notebook, or the digital voice recorder comes out as they get down the idea before it disappears.

The future work—all available choices to the path of a finished, tangible product (a painting or recording, etc.)—are in a superposition of sorts as they hover about the metachore, like a cloud of electrons prior to observation and wave-function collapse.

But recognized works of genius, both great and lesser, are fashioned through a process that is generalizable to all acts of creation:

A traditional descriptive model of the creative process, based on the self-observation and testimony of large numbers of variously eminent persons, provides a useful organizing framework for this discussion. Credit for explicitly formulating this model is usually given to Graham Wallas (1926), a political scientist and administrator primarily concerned with the pedagogical matters, but it was also formulated in nearly identical terms and in greater detail by psychologist Eliot Dole Hutchinson (1931, 1939). The model posits four stages or phases that can often be discerned in a high-level creative effort: (1) preparation; (2) incubation; (3) illumination; and (4) verification. Briefly, preparation refers primarily to the initial stages of intense voluntary effort on a particular work or problem (although it is sometimes generalized to include the typically lengthy period of time in which high level technical skills relevant to the task are laboriously acquired). If this initial effort fails, the work or problem may temporarily be put aside in frustration, this being the stage of incubation or renunciation, in which conscious effort seems to be largely or wholly absent. Something more than simple rest or dissipation of inhibitions seems to be involved during the incubation period, for then comes illumination, inspiration, or insight, in which radically new ideas intrude into consciousness, often suddenly, copiously, and with strong accompanying affect. This leads to a further stage of voluntary effort, verification, in which the new material may be evaluated, elaborated, and worked into the structure of the evolving product.[18]

While cognitive neuroscientific accounts explain Hutchinson’s renunciation-inspiration phase of creativity as a sort of “unconscious cerebration” or a “cognitive unconscious” that functions during both consciousness and sleep, it is still a behaviorist’s black-box model that explains nothing.[19]There are cases of problem solving (if we roughly want to define creativity that way) which so confound science as to be magical. As we noted, a calculating prodigy like Ramanujan could instantly tabulate complex operations on prime numbers within seconds.[20] Since no one had called into public existence the particular prime numbers Ramanujan was asked to do, we still need to ask how he in particular and prodigies in general can do it…It is the same, albeit in slow motion, with the creative constellation of ideas that eventually become artworks that deeply resonate with people down the ages.

Of course, there are only finite numbers of prime numbers (an objective fact) while art almost wholly involves subjective value judgments, but in what sense do they share at least a family resemblance, or a direct parallel at most?

Getting consistently good sleep has been positively correlated with higher levels of creativity; this probably has to do with the integration of emotional and intellectual experiences into one’s general psychological mindset.[21]

Every night, people enter temporary worlds fashioned entirely by their minds, briefly inhabit them, and become agents in them. Our emotional preoccupations drive the dreaming process via the brain stem and limbic system.[22] These centers are very active in emotional states during waking consciousness, and are the most active during dreams, especially the vivid REM dream stage that occurs in its third cycle in late morning.[23] Any dream can show the creative potential for recombination and synthesis that is shaped into a narrative, whether that story is implicit in the dream or imposed during the hypnopompic process of awakening. Something other than the conscious ego imposes these images and the story-like order to them.[24]

Creative breakthroughs come in a flash, or gradually in pieces. This is Frederic Myers’s “subliminal uprush,” in which the solution is often fully-formed and often surprises even the artist or scientist. The artist/scientist’s amazement indicates for Myers the existence of a secondary agency parallel to the stream of willed, accessible memories of consciousness.

AI systems cannot as yet produce the qualitatively different process of creating novelty of the quality that Myers’s uprush solves. Solutions may involve context, “nested contexts,” cross-pattern-recognition, and even decontextualization of individual elements needed to find satisfactory results. The brain’s immense processing power of its present conscious experiences and emotions plus its lifetime’s worth of potentially memorable experiences dwarfs current quantitative computational capabilities. The faculty for understanding context is missing in the cognitive-computational models. It is not enough to say that a human’s personal memory store of experiences can be “algorithmically reshuffled” to produce a novel thought or a creative act, for doesn’t that imply that the answer pre-exists (in some form) in the mind to be discovered as the solution? How is it recognized by the artist or scientist as the eureka! moment?

An additional problem is that an answer to a problem has one meaning in computing and another altogether for an artist. If an AI scientist programs a computer to write an original song based on a style of source material (which has been done in the case of the Beatles) or write poetry (which also has been done), the computer possesses no intentionality in its steps towards the completion of the work; it all depends on the selection process of the person(s) feeding the raw material into the system. Many millions (perhaps billions) of combinations have to be algorithmically tried by the brain when, as a “computing system,” it does not with any exactitude know what it is looking for. In other words, the eureka! moment cannot be programmed for—the emotional rush of re-cognition that the near-perfect to perfect solution has arrived. Again, the artist may be surprised at the result and delighted that the answer appeared, many times accompanied by a numinous eureka! sensation. This emotional component and contextualization of a non-linear process cannot be ignored or minimized by anyone explaining creativity using an AI/computational approach.

What is invoked as explanation when a musician or gymnast or scientist respectively a) plays an astounding violin solo while on “autopilot” (and may herself be as astonished as the audience when she listens to the subsequent recording); b) the gymnast moves her body without conscious volition in a way thought impossible and is equally amazed on viewing a video of the performance; or c) happens to suddenly perceive an insoluble problem with a Gestalt-switch-like perception and its resolution is now easy and almost obvious?

In case C, what has usually been invoked by materialist neuroscience is, again, some kind of “unconscious cerebration” involving the recombination of all past imprinted (or memorable) instances in which the problem figured in her cognition. In the first two examples, an altered state of the consciousness can be used to explain how an artist can leap far beyond what they believe themselves capable of (the so-called flow experience). This can apply to the scientist as well; we all know the feeling of intense concentration/absorption on a task that suddenly breaks into ease.

Yet if we deconstruct these scenarios second by second, let’s imagine we can perceive the biochemical-electrical loops occurring between brain, fingers, and muscles of all three people during this flow state. Just before the astounding performance, in the near future, something quite out of the ordinary is about to occur, relative to the performer, the audience, and field of aesthetic judges. The performance is at this time unimaginable to everyone. It will emerge from the feedback between mind and matter, tension and release—the creatrix’s conscious will plus something extra or outsidetheir consciousness. Might we not say that the answer does not originate inside the brain structures and neuronal firings at all, but somewhere in a field of possible realities being simultaneously scanned in superposition, like a person searching bandwidths for a certain frequency?

Spontaneous actions may end with the person being called a genius. Yet in the current physicalist’s approximation, all that has occurred is a concentrated act of will that, from the outside, is described as conscious because the person exhibits certain signs of consciousness while performing, whether that performance is on a musical instrument or parallel bars or a blackboard. To be a good neo-behaviorist/epiphenomenalist, all our physicalist has to say is that the genius’ years of reward for competent learning has achieved its pinnacle; for the physicalist, there would be no significance to the artist-scientist’s statement that they were not even aware of their mind/body during the performance or when the answer came, when this may be precisely the crucial point of the matter.

Along with the considerations of the sources of genuine creativity comes the problem of evaluating a work as a product of genius. In a 1996 book, psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi divided creativity as a total activity as having three components: the creative person, their domain, and the field. The domain is any area of endeavor, such as topological mathematics or oil painting or DJing. The field is the peers and experts and audience adjudicating the worth or novelty of the creation. Thus:

…the definition that follows from this perspective is: Creativity is any act, idea, or product that changes an existing domain, or that transforms an existing domain into a new one. And the definition of a creative person is: someone whose thoughts or actions change a domain, or establish a new domain. It is important to remember, however, that a domain cannot be changed without the explicit or implicit consent of a field responsible for it.[25]

Myers (and I) would embrace this view inasmuch as it recognizes a social collective that responds to a work as something that may communicate truths transcending a particular period and place of origination. We would modify this stance, however, on the grounds that it effaces the element of a shared unconscious or subliminal element whose existence is being displayedthrough the stupendous quality of the work.

Works of genius in poetry, music, and the plastic arts often engage multiple levels of interpretation and position themselves at the edge of an indeterminacy of meaning; they possess a richness of content that evokes a multiplicity of possible responses. The numinous spiritual experience that theologian Rudolf Otto speaks of may very well be encountered in a monumental work of art or a new complex mathematical formula describing, for instance, “imaginary” dimensions that the field of mathematicians have never before noticed.

Many times, a new community is called into existence by the genius; as Luigi Pareyson once said, a genius is a type of person who creates the audience for their work. I think Pareyson means that their works are of such quality that they 1) remind the persons in their audience of profound things they already know, but have never been able to consciously formulate (put into words, sounds, or images themselves); 2) broaden the audience’s perspective on the meaning and/or limits of the domain (as Csikszentmihalyi has it); 3) create converts to the transformative power of art—and thus create new artists; 4) broaden the spectator’s experience of community with other human beings, that is, induce a sympathetic/empathic response that does not diminish in time.

Perhaps Pareyson’s claim sounds glib when one considers the changing tastes and standards of genius throughout history—but it in no way impacts the accomplishments of persons like Leonardo or St. Hildegard, whose lives and works very well could have been forgotten or suppressed in history. This impels a question like Bishop Berkeley’s about the falling tree: if the genius creates a unique masterpiece and no-one is around to experience it, is it still a masterpiece? Against Csikszentmihalyi’s definition, I would argue yes. If an artist had a vision originating via an altered/dissociative state then labored over what they were blessed with experiencing into physical being, whether or not the work is discovered at some later point is irrelevant. It had meaning for the artist, and it signified both the truth of their metachorial encounter and their direct relationship to a field of possible experience far greater than themself.

It is important here to stress that the metachoria is populated with and produces in minds images that may have intrinsic intentionality but do not yet possess an existent referent at the time they occur; they have sense to their experiencer but no reference yet in the world.

Suppose you think of Santa Claus pausing from his toy-making work to have a lager. Santa Claus in a strict sense doesn’t exist, but he can do just about anything one can imagine a human doing—even things humans can’t. The thought of Santa drinking has intentionality: we have a thought that “Santa is/was/will quaff a pint.” It has sense to us, but no referent—that is, it refers to no existing reality, other than the imagined action in the imaginer’s mind. Santa is a “prop.”[26]

Similarly, a painter might have, say, a spontaneous vision of a nightclub filled with nightmarish chimeras performing actions upon one another that no other human has ever imagined.[27] She is chilled by the image’s intensity but also very alert to its details. The imaginal scene also has sense (being set in a phantasmal nightclub, etc.), but no reference in the outer world—the vision does not yet exist in a public way, like Santa Claus does. Her job is then to bring this image’s subjective sense to external form in a tangible work: a painting.

Now suppose the painter were to spend ten years making this one work, and it became spectacularly popular and survived down the centuries, like Bosch’s landscapes. Suppose people named her visionary creatures, wrote iconographies and fiction based around them, made movies and narratives using the rich symbolism of the painting’s world. These creatures too could eventually become imaginative “props” like Santa Claus—they could quaff weird beverages, have adventures, take over the White House, etc.

All because a singular, vivid, unwilled image entered one artist’s head. Did the depicted creatures call themselves into existence via a non-human intelligence? Were they given their long ideal lives via her metachorial imagination?

Or (to get really out there) did her huge future audience’s familiarity, admiration, and even love for her creations somehow retroactively cause the vision to occur in her mind in the first place?

In part three we will summarize the case for the novelty of non-human intelligence communications via the contact modalities in the light of the historical parallels outlined here. Just what part of these phenomena are new?


[1] Pasulka, D.W., American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology, Oxford University Press, 2019.

[2] Ibid, pgs. 34-35.

[3] See Banias, M.J. UFO People: A Curious Culture, August Night Book, 2019, pgs. 92-97.

[4] Pasulka, pgs 188-95; 198-201.

[5] See Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness & Contact with Non-Human Intelligence Vol. 1, CreateSpace Independent Platform, 2018.

[6] Pasulka, pgs. 140, 203-04, 207-08.

[7] Brown, pgs. 178-189.

[8] See Ring, Kenneth. The Omega Project: Near-Death Experiences, UFO Encounters, and Mind-at-Large, William Morrow & Co., 1992.

[9] Kelly, Edward and Kelly, Emily Williams. Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 2009, pg. 354.

[10] Talbot, Michael. The Holographic Universe, Harper Perennial, 1991, pg. 260.

[11] Coleridge, Samuel Taylor. Biography Literaria, 1817.

[12] Kelly 353-362; see Mavromatis, Andreas. Hypnagogia: The Unique State of Consciousness Between Wakefulness and Sleep, Thyrsos Press, 2010, pgs. 71-80, 194-203, 221-23 for the relationship between relaxation, natural dissociation, and spontaneously unwilled imagery in the hypnagogic trance, the first stage of sleep.

[13] See Gauld, Alan. A History of Hypnotism, Cambridge University Press, 1995, pgs. 105-107, 143-44, 278-79, 284-85, 301, 326-27.

[14] Maybe the specific amplitude or wavelength of Penfield’s charge resonated with amplitude/wavelength of random encoded memories in the patients’ brains. These relived memories by the patients seemed entirely “meaningless” recollections, because most of our lives consist of just these sorts of experiences.




[18] Kelly (2009), 427-428, 432-433, 600.

[19] See Kelly, 240-252 for criticism of the unconscious cerebration/cognitive unconscious thesis in neuroscience and psychology, and Kelly, pg. 455 on the shortcomings of the “black” box approach.

[20] Many times, these persons are diagnosed with autism-spectrum disorder or have a type of detriment to the left side of the brain, which has been shown to process experience linguistically in a linear fashion. The right brain, which has been demonstrated to perceive images and wholes with a minimal linguistic, linear component, may in fact, for persons such as Ramanujan, imaginally perceive the entirety of a mathematical world as 3-dimensional table-matrices through which they will the answer not through calculation but location via the matrices’ axes. See Kelly (2009) pgs. 87, 433, and The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World by Iain McGilchrist, Yale University Press, 2012, pgs. 12-13, 57-58, 61, 87, 132.

[21] Rock, 142-147.

[22] Rock, Andrea. The Mind at Night: The New Science of How and Why We Dream, Basic Books, 2004, pgs. 22, 122.

[23] ibid, 47-49.

[24] This other could be said to be the realm of the right brain. The difference between a verbal description of an anomaly and a visual representation of it (of a Nordic being such as Adamski’s, or Strieber’s “woman visitor” on the cover of Communion) is profound in its emotional effect. Images activate the right hemisphere of the brain that deals in the symbolic. Symbols can be said to reside and recombine in those areas of the brain. It may be for this reason that traditions from Sumerian religion to mystical Judaism to Roman and Gnostic mythology tell of a “divine twin,” hypnopomp, daemon, szyzgus, or guardian angel that is an everpresent part of us that exists to communicate truths that elude propositional form. The symbolic/emotional nexus has no grasp of linear time, because it exists partially outside it, in the metachoria. These are the dreams we most remember.

[25] Csikszenmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention, Harper Perennial, 1996, pg. 28.

[26] See Kendall L. Walton’s Mimesis as Make-Believe: On the Foundations of the Representational Arts, Harvard University Press, 1993, pgs. 37-38, 42-43. Props function within sets of rules that generate fiction. They possess the same intentionality as objects in the “real world.”

[27] The works of surrealists such as Roberto Matta would be very much like the vision suggested by this thought experiment: landscapes that appear as complete abstractions at first, then on close inspection gain signifying details that suggest familiar forms but never get there. Pareidolia alternately fails and succeeds in effectively interpreting the imagery in his works; they are entirely liminal in their engagement with the eye and brain.

[28] Yet ironically, the “true” name is never the real name if they are telling the truth. Although many such as Carla Rueckert’s Ra admit that the names higher entities use are just convenient, human shorthand for what they really are—the “social memory complex” of an evolved race on another dimensional plane—they usually preach that identity itself, of any form, is a metaphysical fiction, as Advaita and madhyamika Buddhism holds.

[29] See the opening pages of Vallee’s Messengers of Deception.

[30] The Akasha idea originated in Alfred Percy Sinnett’s gloss (1883) on H.S. Olcott’s A Buddhist Catechism (but was probably inspired by Indra’s net in the Atharva Veda of 1,500 BCE). The Akashic field can be made to explain and bolster belief in the reality and truthful preachings of new channels in a mutually reinforcing way.

[31] As writer M.J. Banias has pointed out, the UFO is a “cultural apparition.” This characterization can be extended to cover most anomalous manifestations throughout history, including NHIs, but their liminality can be especially corrosive and pronounced to society in our lightning-fast information networks. Building on the seminal 2008 essay “Sovereignty and the UFO” by Alexander Wendt and Raymond Duvall, Banias claims the UFO is disruptive to nearly the entire spectrum of capitalist cultural discourse, while simultaneously having no unambiguous physical signified to what it represents. There is nothing but the report, the aftereffects of the encounter, and the beliefs by others in the encounter. Belief in UFOs requires a rejection of many factors that make up the worldview consensus that drives our society: physics, religion, trust in the mass media, and products of the “creative class” (novels, TV shows, films) that are products of the same consensus. But judging by the contents of Pasulka’s and Vallee’s books, there are many scientists paying attention and engaging with this taboo subject at the highest levels of the military-space-industrial complex. Or so we are led to believe.

[32] P. Phillips and W.L MacLeod, Here and There: Psychic Communication between Our World and the Next, Corgi Books/Transworld Publications 1975.

[33] The problem may be what psi investigators call “analytic overlay,” which is when a psychic misinterprets an imagistic “signal” by using their own mind’s associations and the left-brain’s labeling power. See MacGilchrist, Iain, The Master and His Emmisary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World, Yale University Press, 2010, 106-110, 113-115, 118-126, 195-203.

[34] See Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness & Contact with Non-Human Intelligence, CreateSpace Independent Publishing, 2018.

[35] I recently read some documents on a person’s lifelong communicating with the “Zeta grey race” that could’ve come straight out of Allan Kardec, Blavatsky, or Alice Bailey’s writings. Clearly the influence of Theosophy on the framing of any kind of channeled or non-human contact experiences is incalculable. I read the first two Ra Materials books (published 1981/82) and found them interesting as channeled teachings. But again, until some channeler of NHIs makes unambiguous predictions that come true, or writes the formula and plans for an antigravity field generator or something far beyond the normal capabilities of the channel, society will continue to marginalize these things.

[36] This also usually implies an atomistic conception of individual human beings compelled to struggle over many lifetimes to learn their spiritual lessons—and it must be noted that the evolution of humanity only became a channeling trope since Darwin put natural selection into intellectual currency in 1860 and was duly picked up by the Spiritualist mediums.

[37] See Heywood, Rosalind, The Sixth Sense: An Enquiry into Extra-Sensory Perception, Chatto & Windus, 1959, pgs. 69-102;Oppenheim, Janet. The Other Side, 132-135; Tymn, Blum, Deborah. Ghost Hunters, 174-178; 276-281.

[38] In the SPR-studied medium-communications from the deceased there at least is a template for proof: the dead person’s survivors may encounter pet phrases, mannerisms, and memories that only they know and can verify as close to or identical with their loved ones. This occurred hundreds of times in the cross-correspondences.

[39] Parapsychologist Jon Klimo—a major contributor to the Contact Modalities book Beyond UFOs—promised in 1998 to produce such a book, but it has yet to see publication.

[40] See McClenon, James. Wondrous Events: Foundations of Religious Beliefs, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1994.

[41] But we know that Santa Claus as we think of him was created from an amalgam of sources in the 19th century.

[42] See

All About the Woo: A Short History of the New Age

“Can you blame us, grabbing for whatever remains of the sacred still exist in such an absurd world?”

It is too easy in our secular world to characterize New Age thought as a mélange of Asian, Levantine, and obsolete metaphysical ideas, only fit for those who have become spiritually lost in the wake of a seemingly broken Abrahamic culture.


In both theory and practice the “New Age mindset” can be seen as a reforming force against rigid religious and scientistic beliefs that resulted from the technological age and the fundamentalist religious reactions against them. Many skeptics call New Age “irrational” or “anti-rational” but this is only true in specific cases.

It must be put in a broader social context. There have been two Great Awakenings in American history, those of the 1730s, and then the first half of the 19th Century, and there is a good case to make that New Age thought amounts to a third—this one embracing not just grassroots Christianity, but contact and introduction of global religions and traditions that could only have been made possible by mass communication, mass travel, and computer technology.

“New Age” culture is a rediscovery of spirituality by way of a variety of practices in which one seeks direct contact with the Otherworld that our blindered consumerist bubble’s thunder and fury tries to hide from us. Many times, the New Age lifestyle involves syncretism between spiritual belief-systems, a “rediscovery of ancient wisdom” with a therapeutic spin to it; it thus has elements of reformation against our control-obsessed and nature-negating society.

Consciousness-alteration (through psychoactive plants, drumming, patterned breathing, or meditating) has always been a pathway to supernatural and divine experience. It directly bypasses the effects of what sociologist Max Weber called the “bureaucratization of charisma.” By “bureaucratization” Weber meant the hierarchy of priests who interpret and rein in what constitutes genuine religious illumination—or, in our present day, the parallel hierarchy of experts, scientific and managerial, who decide what is knowledge itself and what are legitimate experiences/practices and spread those criteria via mass media.

But we have to go way back to determine what makes so-called New Age thought stand out today, as a reaction against.

The Catholic church hierarchy existed partly to control the social effects of an charismatic individual’s mystical illumination and the reforming, evangelical movements that almost always follow in that person’s wake. German abbess Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179) barely managed to escape indictment for apostasy by the Man when she codified and illustrated her divine visions in a series of books, and became a spiritual healer via trance and herbalism. Her plainsong compositions are the pinnacle of ethereal trance music.

Joachim of Flora (1135-1202) drew inspiration from John’s Revelation and propounded a vision of evolutive ages that he identified with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; Joachim viewed the Trinity as the movement of millennial ages—the purpose of all history as motion towards a paradisiacal New Age.

Joachim said we will move from secular, human laws to become free beings existing only under the law of love.

The Man did not like this eschaton one bit, because according to Joachim, the Church would play no part in bringing about human salvation; it was a covenant between God and all humanity.

This idea of ceaseless movement towards perfection would influence many philosophers, especially the mystic Jacob Boehme and philosopher of history Georg Hegel. Joachim’s vision of the “perfectibility” of humanity would resonate down the centuries and find a secular form in the “material progress” promised by Enlightenment science. Ultimately, it will lead to our present-day transhumanist utopianism as expounded by thinkers such as Ray Kurzweil and Hans Moravec.


When the Protestant Reformation and Enlightenment ratified direct contact between the individual and God, without mediation of a clergy, believers were no longer limited to the rituals and top-down worldview of Abrahamic-Aristotelian beliefs as fixed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy.

But the Reformation rose simultaneously with the scientific method and the concept of “fact.” This created an impetus for an even more strict system of dogmas against two entwined respective enemies:  Satan and the “superstitious” folkways that encompassed everything from fairy belief to the maleficarum of the cunning person.

For many radical Reformists, there was little difference between the “magic” of the Catholic liturgy and that of a necromancer. With the Puritans and evangelists came an ever-shrinking epistemology and ever-growing set of rules micro-managing every aspect of a Christian believer’s life.

The elite scientific establishment functions as a secular priest class. With Renaissance humanism and Francis Bacon’s empiricism, the Enlightenment rationalized and elevated the individual conscience to a divine right. Prior to the rise of methodological science in the 18th century the folk wisdom and folk remedies of the cunning person (eventually called the witch) prevailed in the healing of the common people’s minds and bodies. These traditional methods were centuries old, and the priests punished its practitioners. Science then joined in the censure as a system of repression of folkways taking countless forms, from a rationalizing of cosmogony/cosmology to the Malleus Maleficarum of the witch hunters.


Marcilio Ficino translated the supposedly Pharoanic-era Corpus Hermeticum sometime in the 1460s; a century later it was determined to be a post-Egyptian Hellenistic forgery. Regardless, its principles founded the western esoteric tradition (and were corroborated as having some genuinely ancient provenance by the discovery of Gnostic and Arabic alchemical texts in the 20th century).

When Renaissance scholars like Ficino, Pico della Mirandola, Giordano Bruno, and Tommaso Campanella revealed this esoteric corpus, an alternative stream of knowledge sprang into existence that would run parallel to the new science of Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes. Occult practice became a field of study, with scientific experimentation and personal anecdote to add to the ancient body of works.

The Reformation, coupled with the Renaissance scholars’ discovery of esoteric philosophy, allowed ideas such (as Joachim’s) that humankind was unfinished as opposed to fallen to burst forth with the power of a psychic tsunami.

Except for the experiences of reformers such as Saints Bernard or Francis, most of the products of these mystics such as Hildegard or Joachim’s were stamped out before they could become charismatized. Occultists, doctors, healers, and scholars such as Raymond Lull, John Dee, Giordano Bruno, Paracelsus, Jacob Boehme, Cornelis Agrippa, Athanasius Kircher, Emmanuel Swedenborg, and Count Saint-Germain claimed visions and familiarity with unseen forces that often schooled them in the manner of shaman-guides. Many of them paid enormous social prices for their explorations, including the ultimate: the stake.

In reaction to the Enlightenment’s rationality, the 18th-19th century Romantic movement’s “individual conscience” included room for products of Imagination, as Coleridge and Blake defined them: poetic visions and art as religious experiences, and vice versa. Coleridge believed all these came from the same timeless realm of the World-Soul. 


Our destination will appear scattershot. Incongruent. But these are virtues. The end picture of this essay will be—well, there won’t be one, because let’s face it we’re approaching a time when it’s an ask-a-fish-what-water-is moment. You have been affected by New Age thought in some fundamental ways, even if it’s as insignificant as pouring fuel on your cynicism, or rolling out your yoga mat, or putting up your dreamcatcher. The story culminates in the absurdities of The Secret and the film summation What the (Bleep) do we Know? and in a no man’s land between religion and science.

But the above is a sort of pre-prehistory of woo-woo. As we’ll see, the majority of these “New” ideas represent traditions supposedly destroyed by the acid bath of scientific modernity–despite the fact that modern science evolved from activities of the Royal Society of London, which was founded in part by the second and third generations of mystic Rosicrucians; chemistry as a discipline, and arguably science as we know it, would not exist if it weren’t for the experiments of those “poor, blundering” alchemist-occultists of the preceding millennium.

The so-called New Age as we now know it was proclaimed as early as the turn of the 17th century—by this Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, also known as the Rosicrucians. So here we go:



The Chemical Wedding of Christian Rosenkreuz is published in 1616. It is claimed, then disowned by German priest Johannes Valentinus Andreae (1586-1654). This “joke” novella, along with two anonymous tracts published a few years earlier that heralded the coming of a secret anti-Catholic brotherhood, inspires the creation of a real Society of the Rosy Cross, a brotherhood of healer-scientist-mystics, that exists to this day. In fact, there are no less than 37 separate organizations claiming lineage from “Rosenkreuz’s” Sufi and Egyptian-inspired movement.

In Frances Yates’s excellent The Rosicrucian Enlightenment, she claims that the foundations for Rosicrucian principles are partly to be found in British mathemetician Dr. John Dee’s activities at Rudolph II’s court in 1589 Bohemia. On this trip, Dee met with alchemist and author Heinrich Khunrath. Over the previous century since Ficino had translated Plato, the Neo-Platonists, and the Corpus Hermeticum in the 1470s, a network of ceremonial magicians, alchemists, and Kabbalists had come into existence across Europe, helped in part by the followers of Ficino, Giordano Bruno, and Tommaso Campanella. It is very possible that this Prague meeting and the alchemical-hermetic writings of Dee, Khunrath, and alchemist Michael Maier inspired the creation of the “legendary brotherhood” of Rosicrucians, by persons unknown.

Rene Descartes (1596-1650)—scientist and philosopher posits, without explanation, the pineal gland as the interface between the immaterial soul and the body. Three centuries later, this tiny organ within the brain will become a contemporary New Age “fairy dust” explanation for a host of phenomena, from DMT visions to astral travel to the body’s self-healing powers. But we all know what also issued forth from Rene’s pen: a totalistic philosophy of biology=mechanism from which we’re still recovering like pernicious anemia.


In 1726, Jonathan Swift (1640-1667) publishes Gulliver’s Travels, whose third episode involves a disc-shaped flying island-city full of highly intelligent but absurd beings. Swift’s characters claim Mars has two moons a century before this fact is discovered. Swift’s imaginative gesture will eventually be quoted by some of today’s parapsychologists as an example of “precognition” or “reverse causality,” as (eventually) will many elements of the science fiction and horror stories of H.G. Wells, Robert Louis Stevenson, H.P. Lovecraft, Arthur Clarke, and Philip K. Dick.


Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) moonlights in studying alchemical texts while discovering the laws of motion and gravity and forever revolutionizing our understanding of the large-scale universe. He also firmly believes in the principles of the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus and the secret of the Philosophers’ Stone. Scientists and historians will blush at this, wave their hands, and mutter over this scandalous “hobby” of rationalism’s patron saint. Those in the know, however, know.




Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) is a polymath and trance medium, and has extended intercourse with angelic and extraterrestrial beings, and in The Earths of the Universe (1758) details his experiences.

Before age ten, he teaches himself breathing techniques that induce deep relaxation and a form of conscious hypnagogia that helps him think—and, one might say, access by mild oxygen deprivation a field of consciousness greater than the finite one into which the physical brain has thrown him (we will encounter this “reducing valve” concept of the brain’s normal function 150 years later in the works of Frederic Myers and many other theorizers of the source of altered consciousness).

By age 14 Swedenborg is attending Uppsala University. Over the next four decades, he becomes a parliamentary lord, the national overseer of the Swedish mining industries, a journal publisher, and designs submarines and weaponry. 

Always his pastor father’s injunctions against “self-love” keep him humble in the face of these achievements, yet he seeks fame. In 1734, he publishes his first “scientific” work on the human soul. In it he anticipates the idea that the source of the universe’s forms are fractal holograms that emerge from a subatomic field—a concept that will be conjectured by neurosurgeon Karl Pribram in the 1980s. He moves to London.

During 1743-44 he suffers increasingly vivid visions of hell and the worthlessness of his scientific endeavors and writes about these experiences in his Spiritual Diary. 

He exhibits clairvoyance several times, most famously when he sees a fire threatening his own home in Stockholm while he is 300 miles away in Gothenburg. He is at a soirée at the time and remotely tracks the progress of the fire and is relieved to see it has been extinguished only a few houses down from his. Several days later, word is received from Stockholm that there was a terrible fire—and its path was just as he described. 

After his breakdown of 1744, he is transformed, drops his scientific studies and begins “astral travel” in his long hypnagogic and trance states. He claims to visit heaven and hell, and learns that they are in effect the products of an individuals’ own inclinations and actions in life; all thoughts and actions “echo” in another dimension of vibrations where we create our eventual spiritual realms that we shall confront after death. This concept is startlingly akin to Sufi meditational-recitational practices in the alam al-mithal or transfigured earth, in which the Sufi creates their “palace” within the imaginal realm that exists between the earth and the absolute. Swedenborg describes a threefold heaven whose first level is much like earth life. His encounters with angels reveal specific traits that will be repeated many hundreds of times when people encounter otherworldly beings, especially “ufonauts”: a cascade of information entering the mind that later cannot be recalled; extreme compression of meaning into multi-dimensional sounds and written characters; instant mystical intuition of the connectedness of everything through a very intense light. 

He warns of dealing with some classes of elemental spirit beings, and denounces human attempts to interact with them—which will, of course, go unheeded to this day…


(1501-1804) Slaves from Nigeria, indentured by the British and French to Haiti and the Dominican Republic colonies, encode their Iwa pantheon into Roman Catholicism and syncretize a new religion called Santeria. The use of patterned drumming and dancing to induce trance is used, preserving their shamanist techniques of deity-invocation to the present.


Franz Anton Mesmer (1734-1815): German investigator of altered states of consciousness produced by “animal magnetism,” experiments with them and discovers pure psychical gold. Mesmer uses the alchemist and naturopath Paracelsus’s 27 axioms on magnetism in biology, as well as publishing a dissertation on astrological influences upon living beings. A species of this “mesmerism” is later called hypnosis, whose reliability and even existence is still debated. He designed special circular devices to treat multiple patients called baquets replete with iron bars into which he passed his “magnetic current”. He also practiced a form of proto-reiki, passing his hands over the patient’s body while staring into the entranced’s eyes. His student the Marquis de Puysegur experiments with telepathy in induced mesmeric trance, trials that will be replicated 90 years later by the Society for Psychical Research, psychologist Pierre Janet, and medical professor Charles Richet. Investigating councils into mesmerism (one including Benjamin Franklin) concluded autosuggestion was the answer; Mesmer’s actual body had nothing to do with the cures.

The fact that current psychology still has no idea how autosuggestion physically works can only cast doubt on this doubtful explanation.


Banker Thomas Taylor (1758-1835) has a mystical blow-out while reading the Neo-Platonist philosopher Proclus. He translates Plato, Aristotle, and the Neo-Platonists into English, influencing the Romantic poets Shelley, Keats, Blake, Coleridge, and Wordsworth, as well as Emerson. He lectures encyclopedically on the ancient mysteries to the leading lights of the day. An animal rights activist, he publishes A Vindication of the Rights of Brutes. Many scholars agree that without Taylor there would have been no English Romantic movement—the counter-Enlightenment to “Newton’s sleep” of materialism, as Blake put it (perhaps Blake was unaware of Sir Isaac’s moonlighting career in which he independently studied almost everything Taylor was lecturing on). Neo-Platonism will live on as the main stream of esoteric thought for three hundred years, up to the present.



Captain John Cleves Symmes, Jr. (1779-1829) claims that the Earth is hollow and a civilization exists within it. He bases this idea on a hypothesis made in 1692 by astronomer Edmond Halley (1656-1742), with added help from Jesuit polymath Athanasius Kircher’s Mundus Subterraneus (1664). Symmes’s “Circular 1” announced his intention to form a group of adventurers to reach the entrances at the North Pole. Finding no takers, he pseudonymously publishes the utopian novel Symzonia in 1818, naming this inner world magnanimously in his own honor.

The hollow earth’s civilization, long believed in by Buddhists and Hindus as “Agarttha,” will becomes a running theme in both alternative spiritualities such as Theosophy and contemporary accounts of ancient races that have plagued humanity, such as Richard Shaver’s “Detrimental Robots” (the “Deros,” 1944).

Phineas Parkhurst Quimby’s (1802-1866) bouts with tuberculosis as a young man are temporarily remissed by self-induced “excitable moments,” leading him to conclude the arrow of causation between mind and body occurs in that order, with mind taking precedence. He cures himself of TB and becomes obsessed with Mesmerism and hypnosis. He uses the techniques to alleviate and even cure patients of ailments by way of an easily-hypnotizable young man who diagnoses the patients and then plants healing autosuggestion in their minds. Quimby eventually rejects Mesmerism in favor of the “mind-cure,” and writes many books on the “New Thought“–a forerunner to the New Age movement whose importance via its offshoots cannot be overstressed, as we shall see. Amongst his adherents is Mary Baker Eddy, who will later disavow the New Thought movement and start the First Church of Christ, Scientist or Christian Science in 1879, which to this day eschews modern medicine in favor of faith healing.


Joseph Smith (1805-1844): treasure-hunter and dabbler in Freemasonic occult practices, claims contact at age 23 with a greater intelligence calling itself the Angel Moroni, who eventually shows him the location of gold tablets that become the basis of the Church of Latter-Day Saints. He translates the pictographic language on the tablets by means of a special scrying stone. He gathers hundreds then thousands of converts whose social practices and occult spiritual beliefs clash with those of the Man. Were these events to happen today, Smith would probably suffer the same fate he did back then: lynched at the hands of an angry mob as a “sorcerer.”

*****Starting in the 1820s, following the arrest and disappearance of anti-Freemasonist William Morgan (who threatened to reveal the brotherhood’s secrets) an anti-Masonic hysteria engulfs America, culminating in the creation of the Anti-Masonic political Party in 1832. Although several of the American republic’s founders were Freemasons, the secretive fraternity has spread voluminously yet suffered under increasing rumors of back-room political machinations and religious subversion. This continues off and on until the 1860s, when the Civil War provides an opportunity to charge the Masons’s trans-state status as a perfect cover for spies. There will be periodic flare-ups of anti-Masonic feeling in America from this point forward. They will be seen as a front for the Illuminati, about whom rumors plagued Washington and Jefferson but in reality was a small Bavarian group internationally banned in 1776.


Frederic Hervey Foster Quin (1799-1878) brings homeopathy from Germany to England in the 1830s, about the time mesmerism also becomes enormously popular there. Homeopathy’s originator Dr. Samuel Hahnemann’s (1755-1843) edict that “like cures like” via sympathetic vibrations is a restatement of 16thcentury Paracelsian principles. Homeopathy will be popular in Germany to one degree or another to the present day, enjoying resurgences especially during the lebensreform back-to-nature movement of the turn of the 20thcentury. Nobel winner Luc Montagnier (1932-), discoverer of the HIV virus, becomes a scientific investigator of homeopathic principles in the 2000s and be ostracized by the scientific community as a result.

*****The New England Transcendentalists engage with both nature mysticism and spiritual raptures of in an American brand of Romanticism. Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862) rejects industrial society for a natural anarchism and does a night in jail for refusing to pay taxes. A century later, his Walden (1854) will form a philosophical cornerstone of the back-to-earth hippie movement, and his Civil Disobedience inspires Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Cath Crowe

Just at the dawn of Spiritualism’s overwhelming outbreak in America, British writer Catherine Crowe (1803-1876) publishes The NightSide of Nature in 1848, an attack on the positivist pretensions of scientism and an investigation of ghosts and their attendant phenomena. Crowe had already translated and published The Seeress of Prevorst, an account of a clairvoyant and healer Friederike Hauffe written by Goethe’s friend Justinus Kerner. Adept at astral travel, the mortally-ill Hauffe could also apparently read texts with her stomach.

Like what befalls many a paranormal investigator, Crowe briefly suffers a psychotic/demon-haunted episode in 1854 but recovers. NightSide remains a classic in open-minded rationalism towards the paranormal.


In 1848 in upstate New York, two of the three Fox sisters, Katie and Margaret, claim contact in their house with the ghost of a murdered peddler through wall-rapping, successfully communicating with it and inaugurating the Spiritualist movement, which would be enormously popular until the present day in various forms, especially America. Many charlatans jump on the bandwagon, including their older sister Leah. The sisters travel to England and Europe demonstrating their seances. By 1853 people trying their hand at seance table-rapping and spirit-raising sessions experiment in just about every town in America. Within 20 years there are hundreds of formally-organized spiritualist associations in America, the UK, and Europe. The scientific establishment mercilessly attacks both the mediums and the believers–anyone, really, who believes in anything “supernatural”.


A year before the rappings began, medium Andrew Jackson Davis (1826-1910) published The Principles of Nature. Barely literate and considered “slow,” Davis expounds on truths in erudite vocabulary beyond his normal consciousness while channeling. He will become a ghost and poltergeist investigator, testing the authenticity by his second sight. During the Reconstructionist period, Spiritualism steps into the breach of a demoralized America in which people desperately want to connect with their passed-on kin from the Civil War. The movement is roundly attacked by almost all big-ticket, organized religions as a practice either 1) treading on God’s territory (the afterlife) or 2) the work of Satan deceiving people away from the traditional churches.

After his wife leaves him, ex-priest and radical socialist Alphonse Louis Constant (1810-1875) meets Pythagorean mystic Jozef Maria Hoene-Wronski in 1852, whose ideas on the creation of the universe awaken Constant. He then studies the Kabbalistic Zohar and other texts, but only in translation (knowing Hebrew was a prerequisite to be a true occultist since the 2nd century ACE). He changes his names to Eliphas Levi and after 1854 publishes a series of books that spur on the practice of ceremonial magic and 19th century’s occult revival, influencing Helena Blavatsky, Aleister Crowley, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, and many other groups and individual practitioners. Crowley considers himself a reincarnation of Levi. Arthur E. Waite will translate Levi’s corpus into English within a few decades. Levi’s equating the Tarot’s 22 major arcana trumps with the Tree of Life’s 22 paths is considered by Kabbala experts as a spurious interpretation, yet still taken as a basis for analysis and meditated upon by practitioners to this day.


1856: French Mesmerist Hippolyte Ravail (1804-1869) experiments with mediumship and hypnosis. He believes the spirits of the dead are communicating hidden knowledge of spiritual evolution through mediums and automatic writings. He transcribes The Spirits Book under the pseudonym Allan Kardec. Reincarnation and a karmic economy figure in this cosmic scheme, as well as the idea that nature spirits (“elementals”) can incarnate as humans through their painfully slow spiritual evolution. While this is a common belief in Hinduism and Buddhism, the notion will also be popularized through Madame Blavasky, Annie Besant, and Alice Bailey’s brand of Theosophism. Five decades later, in the 1950s the same concept will appear as the “Starseed” movement, this time involving extraterrestrials beings incarnating on earth to help humanity’s evolution.


Bernadette Soubirous (1844-1879), a 14-year old asthmatic girl, encounters a “little white lady” after entering a trance before a Pyrenees grotto in Lourdes, Southern France in 1858. It appears to her 18 times. She visits the grotto every day for two weeks, receiving instruction. On the 9th appearance the Lady tells her to drink from the stream and eat the herbs beside it, which she does. The muddy waters of the stream are said to have gone clear from this point forward. On the 13th visit the Lady asks that a chapel be built. In the 150 years since her vision, 69 cures have been found inexplicable by the medical establishment. This area about the grotto had a history of “fairy” apparitions prior to Bernadette’s experiences. Archaeological survey has discovered that the caves of this part of the Pyrenees were used as dwellings during the Paleolithic period some 10,000 years ago. Pieces of earthenware are wall paintings have been discovered in the area. Doubtless shamans used the cavern systems for their rituals and performances.


Paschal Beverly Randolph (1825-1875) travels the world and establishes himself as a trance medium in the 1850s. After a career teaching freed slaves to read, he founds the first American Rosicrucian order, the Fraternitas Rosae Crucis, in 1861. The Fraternitas avoided his teachings on the spiritual aspects of sex (a form of tantric practice) but these are accepted by the Hermetic Brotherhood of Luxor. He preaches on pre-Adamic humanity and that the human race was at least 40,000-100,000 years old–now a commonly accepted fact (if not far older). His writings influence Helena Blavatsky, who we’ll meet very soon. For 20 years before his untimely death he published dozens of books on sacred sex and the manifold nature of humanity.


Freemason R.W. Little founds the Societas Rosicruciana in East Anglia in 1860. It attracts Eliphas Levi, Pascal Beverly Randolph, Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Wynn Westcott and Samuel Mathers, the latter two who will go on to form the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. Theodor Reuss, who will eventually head the Ordo Templi Orientiis, is also a member. Masonic Scottish Rite Grandmaster Albert Pike charters an American lodge in 1880. Public accusations of tantric sex done in both theory and practice douses the British SRIA in cold water.


American “electro-alchemist” Cyrus Teed (1839-1908) uses electrical fields to self-induce altered states of consciousness. He succeeds in 1868 in materializing a perfect female deity who opens the energies of his pineal gland, which in turn activates his entire chakra system (his words). He discovers he is immersed in a sea of vibrations. Through visions he intuits that matter and energy are the same phenomena under different descriptions. He comes to believe everything in the universe exists in a hollow sphere and founds a mystical religion. In 1869 he communicates with otherworldly beings that impel him to found “Koreshanity,” a utopian communal religion that founded its “New Jerusalem” in 1894 in Estero, Florida. Teed teaches that the universe is concave, and that the earth is a hollow concave sphere.

Daniel Dunglas Home (1833-1886) astounds thousands of people with feats of levitation, psychokinetic manifestations, and trance-channeling. He becomes the least-maligned spiritualist in history, convincing many scientific skeptics of his abilities, amongst them Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. On one occasion, he is said to have levitated eight feet into the air inside a building, traveling through an open window and reentering through another. All scientific investigations of him find no evidence of fraud, unlike hundreds of other mediums.


Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886)—saint, mystic, and trance medium gains an enormous following in India and preaches universalism in religion. His “Gospel,” over two thousand pages transcribed by acolytes, is still in print.


In 1870, Sir Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873)–politician and Spiritualist/Theosophist adherent we’ve met before as a Rosicrucian–excretes the ghastly novella Vril: The Power of the Coming Race, a piece about a technologically advanced underground alien society. Lytton, a friend of Eliphas Levi, had previously published the esoteric novel Zanoni. The mythology of “Vril,” a super-powerful energy force, will be believed wholesale by the radical right-wing German Thule Society in 1917 (progenitors of the Nazi Party) and eventually the esotericists in Himmler’s SS. In the early 1940s, Vril will also become a PR ploy to sell Bovril, an equally ghastly popular soup made of liquefied cow.


Ignatius Donnelly (1831-1901) publishes Atlantis: The Antediluvian World in 1882. We owe so much to Plato: His one mention of a destroyed super-advanced civilization in The Timaeus dialogue 25 centuries later spawns a huge cottage-industry of spurious research, overreaching speculation, and just plain nonsense.

1882: American Spiritualist dentist John Newbrough (1828-1891) engages automatic writing via angels to channel Oasphe: A New Bible. This 900-page work contains information on ancient languages and events supposedly impossible for this small town tooth-wrangler to have known, and tells the history and order of the universe, ethics, and the new “true” history of the Bible.

It will find vicious competition 60 years later with the Urantia Book, which deals with the same brand of alternate cosmic history. The theme from “Jaws” quietly begins in the background.


The hidden  “Great Mahatmas” of the Himalayas telepathically contact Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre (1842-1909). He writes The Mission of India in Europe in 1886, followed by The Kingdom of Agarttha, a text about the corrupted state of the world and an underground technologically and spiritually advanced race that, as John Symmes believed in 1810, long ago withdrew from the fallen surface-dwellers. D’Alveydre preaches Synarchism, a new politics based upon proto-fascist politics and hardcore Rosicrucianism. ****When you hear talk today about the anti-modern world alt-right’s “natural affinity” for the “irrationality” of the occult, this is the primary source of what they’re talking about. A line can be traced directly from d’Alveydre to the figures Gerard Encausse (“Papus”), Rene Schwaller de Lubicz (who may also have been the mysterious “alchemist” Fulcanelli), Julius Evola, SS “Vril”-worshippers, the neo-Nazi Savitri Devi, and today’s heathen reactionaries who entirely reject Judeo-Christian religion. What they seem to have in common is the view that western modernism is the ultimate expression of the Kali Yuga, the corrupt, dissipative, greed-soaked, and evil world period described Hindu thought…so anything opposing our principles of materialism, egalitarianism, democracy, and humanism is ipso facto at least a part of the solution. Thinkers like D’Alveydre, Rene Guenon, and Julius Evola consider traditionalism the basis of their philosophies, but where it leads some of them is straight back to monarchy, “Platonic”/Hindu caste systems, hatred, and pitiless destruction of the “Other.”


Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831-1891) founds the Theosophical movement in 1875 along with journalist Henry Steel Olcott (1832-1907) and lawyer/occultist William Judge (1851-1896). The medium Blavatsky single-handedly popularizes the idea that a hidden civilization exists in Asia (the “Hidden Wise Men” of the Himalayas, or the “Nine”) and that the human cosmos is controlled by the Great Mahatmas, spiritually advanced once-human angelic beings of a higher dimension. She also expounds on the lost civilization of Atlantis—a hot topic. She is also eventually proved a fraudulent medium by the Society for Psychical Research (more of whom later).

Darwin’s theory of natural selection (which, incidentally, was concisely prefigured by Scottish philosopher David Hume in his Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion) presented in clear exposition the principle of organic mutation towards a more fit relation to an organism’s environment. This, Blavatsky and her followers claim, is a minor biological-materialist spin of Vedantic ideas thousands of years old. All beings are moving from life to life towards perfection, if not just physical fitness to a contingent physical environment.

But the influence of Blavatsky’s movement in “New Age” thought and practice cannot be underestimated. Theosophy would impact just about every aspect of society: art (premiere abstractionist painter Wassily Kandinsky’s influential essay “On the Spiritual in Art”); avant-garde music (Scriabin); politics (Annie Besant was a major socialist activist before and during her Theosophical leadership). Mohandas Gandhi would praise Theosophical principles his entire life, and Nehru as well. Jack London, L. Frank Baum, and painter-mystic Nicolas Roerich are all practicing Theosophists.


1889: Swiss Parliamentarian Alfred Pioda plans on turning a small village called Acona into a Theosophical community. The initial attempt fails, but a decade later pianist Ida Hoffman and Belgian industrialist Henri Oedenkoven name the place Monte Verita. It is another experiment in back-to-earth, vegetarian living. Dancer Isadora Duncan and occultist/O.T.O. founder Theodor Reuss among many others visit for extended periods. “The Mountain of Truth” lasts two decades. In conjunction with, perhaps due to the Acona community, the German lebensreform (living reform) movement is named in 1896, although it had been in existence perhaps since Goethe’s time and inspired by his nature communions. Vegetarianism, nudism, abstinence from alcohol, and sunbathing figure in this health reform. Writer Herman Hesse is an enthusiastic living reformer and pens his novels about natural spontaneity and non-conformity that influence the Beat writers then the hippie movements four decades later. An amphitheater near Monte Vertita is transformed into Casa Gabriella by the very rich Dutch socialite Olga Frobe-Kapteyn into the site for the Eranos Conferences, chaired by analytical psychologist C.G. Jung. Eranos becomes a brand name publishing house for cross-cultural religious and occult studies, involving such names as Erich Neumann, Mircea Eliade, Gershom Scholem, Joseph Campbell and James Hillman.


Pharmacist John Uri Lloyd (1849-1936) writes the popular novel Etidorhpa (spell it backwards) in 1895, a double-framed hollow-earth story. When it is first published, Lloyd claims that he discovered the manuscript. The second frame story involves a protagonist, Drury, who receives visits from a ghostly projection of “The Man,” who tells Drury about his encounters with a small, bald, being-guide who resembles an alien. The being expounds a philosophy that extols the evolution of human consciousness, anticipates Einstein’s energy=matter equation, the zero-point flux field, and attacks then-contemporary materialist science. Naming one’s daughter Etidorhpa becomes a short fad on the success of the work.


Philologist Frederic Myers (1843-1901, pictured) and a group of scholars and scientists found the Society for Psychical Research in 1882 to investigate mediumship, telekinesis, clairvoyance, trance communications, automatic writing, and evidence of reincarnation. It attracts membership of renowned physicist Sir William Crookes, philosophers Henry Sidgwick, William James, and Henri Bergson, writer Arthur Conan Doyle, and many others. Alfred Russel Wallace, co-founder with Charles Darwin of the theory of natural selection, is a hardcore Spiritualist and wary of the skepticism he encounters when the SPR exposes fraudulent mediums (which they do a lot). Lawyer Edmund Gurney, Myers, and Frank Podmore publish Phantasms of the Living in 1886, detailing hundreds of “crisis apparitions” of persons seen by friends and relatives usually within 24-0 hours of that individual’s death. Podmore and Gurney, both skeptics, determine that many times the apparitions are seen at the very moment of that person’s death, or just after. The duo spent years personally tracking down both the percipients to the apparitions and witnesses to the person’s death, timing them and gaining details as to their environment, what is said, etc. This is followed in 1889 by the Census of Hallucinations, a compendium of 1,684 “veridical” apparition sightings/sensings culled from a survey of 17,000 persons’ stories. This core set, like those of Phantasms, was carefully checked. The tentative conclusion: a species of telepathy (as Myers called it) must be posited in order for these occurrences to be possible.

Leonora Piper

The SPR investigates many dozens of spiritualist mediums then eschews on the whole, debunking most as frauds. Its American branch, however, would introduce Leonora Piper’s astonishing mediumship to the world. Like Daniel Home, all attempts to prove her fraudulent through “cold reading,” “hot reading,” accomplices, etc. fail. She is active for 17 years as an SPR case study.

Myers writes a compelling, rigorously scientific book on hidden human powers, Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death, which many even-minded readers consider the best book ever written on the paranormal. In this work, Myers distinguishes between the Supraliminal Self and the Subliminal Self, the latter being equated with all the unconscious memories and forces latent in humanity (recall that this was pre-Freud and Jung). His two-part model equated with Ego-Superego and Id respectively, but without the negative associations Freud brought to the Id’s animalistic drives. For Myers it was a purposeful élan vital with creative aspects. He viewed aberrant states of mind and body such as neurotic hysteria, spontaneous trance, and psychosis not necessarily as negative states but evolutive potentialities making themselves known. It is our no-nonsense, get-back-to-work-Jack culture that marginalizes and medicalizes “sloth” and “hysterias” as anomalies begging correction–states that would in earlier times be considered demonic possession and even earlier as signs of the blessed “second sight” or the spirit-election of a shaman. By means of the Subliminal Self, Myers attempted to explain most of the altered states of consciousness that produce paranormal activity–clairvoyance, precognition, telepathy, psychokinesis, poltergeists, knowledge of “past lives” (which could, to Myers, have been memories by loved ones accessed telepathically of those passed on).

Although numbering Nobel-winning scientists in its roster, the SPR’s goal was to create a bridge between oft-mysterious human powers and hard science. In this it failed, but laid the groundwork for scientifically sound experimental psi study by J.B. and Louisa Rhinein the 1930s, the Stanford Research Institute’s remote viewing program 1972-1995, Charles Honorton’s autoganzfeld telepathy technique in the 1970s-1980s, and Helmut Schmidt’s micropsychokinesis studies in the 1970-80s.

*****The SPR’s early founding members definitely have a spirit of reform against the “only atoms and void” ontology preached by the scientific representatives of materialism. They see (as well as experiencing themselves) the disenchantment and existential despair Wallace/Darwin’s hypothesis and the biology-reduced-to-physics is beginning to cause in people, to say nothing of the damage geological studies are doing to “Biblical truths.”

Ultimately, the SPR seeks recognition from the dominant hardcore materialists of the intellectual world but fails to get it. 

Since investigation such as the SPR’s has come under unrelenting attack by scientists since the early 1800s, psi researchers eventually develop such strong protocols for weeding out confounding factors that these designs became adopted in mainstream psychology and even the biological sciences—a little-known historical fact!

The multiple honest meta-analyses that have been done of all experimental psi studies show that telepathy and psychokinesis do in fact exist, although still unexplained in their mechanism. 


Sir James George Frazer (1854-1941) publishes The Golden Bough between 1890 and 1916, an exhaustive and culturally condescending account of magic and world mythology.


In 1893 Chicago, Ramakrishna disciple Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902) speaks on yoga and Vedanta at the Congress of World Religion at the World’s Fair. He remains in America for four years, lecturing from coast to coast. He visits the UK lecturing for a spell. Yoga becomes a semi-fad.

French psychologist Theodore Flournoy (1854-1920) publishes From India to the Planet Mars in 1899, a “subliminal romance” channeled from the subconscious of Elise Muller, a Swiss medium. While hypnotized, Muller writes in “Martian” and “proto-Sanskrit” and claims to have been a princess on Mars—as well as Marie Antoinette. The book causes a sensation. Flournoy diagnoses it a case of cryptomnesia, in which unconsciously absorbed information comes to the fore, elaborated into fantasy and perhaps—perhaps—by means of telepathic connection. Muller later renounces her claims and becomes a fantasy painter whose works eventually inspire the Surrealists—and her fellow Swiss Dr. Carl Jung’s interest in the contents of ritually/”pathologically” altered states of consciousness.


Julia Seton (1862-1950) publishes Symbols of Numerology in 1907. She regularly attends meeting of the League for the Larger Life, founded in 1916, with Ernest Holmes. The LLL is a part of the New Thought movement, a forerunner to so-called New Age, which was founded using the previously mentioned Phineas Quimby’s ideas on the supremacy of mind over matter.

Let’s let the eloquent William James nutshell this movement’s concept of “mind-cure”: “One of the doctrinal sources of Mind-cure is the four Gospels; another is Emersonianism or New England transcendentalism; another is Berkeleyan idealism; another is spiritism, with its messages of “law” and “progress” and “development”; another the optimistic popular science evolutionism of which I have recently spoken; and, finally, Hinduism has contributed a strain. But the most characteristic feature of the mind-cure movement is an inspiration much more direct. The leaders in this faith have had an intuitive belief in the all-saving power of healthy-minded attitudes as such, in the conquering efficacy of courage, hope, and trust, and a correlative contempt for doubt, fear, worry, and all nervously precautionary states of mind. Their belief has in a general way been corroborated by the practical experience of their disciples; and this experience forms to-day a mass imposing in amount.”


2006’s The Secret’s “magical thinking” regarding instant wealth creation via wish may seem like the absurd culmination of New Age worldview, but its deep historic roots are a variant on an ancient theme. The historical origin of the magical thinking for which New Age is most sharply criticized and laughed at is difficult to pin down…Perhaps because so many popular permutations of it flourished in books and pamphlets in the Gilded Age of late 19th and early 20th centuries. To find a singular source we could go as far back as Paracelsus’s researches into the mental state’s effects on health, or Franz Mesmer’s animal magnetism cures which led to the New Thought movement. But these weren’t concerned with material wealth. New Thought was adapted to material prosperity in a series of books, most famously Pushing to the Front (1895) by Orison Swett Marden, The Science of Getting Rich (1910) by Wallace Wattles, and The Master Key System (1917) by Charles Haanel. Haanel’s book would deeply influence Napoleon Hill, author of the Depression-era Think and Grow Rich (1937), as well as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936).

Levi Dowling (1844-1911) channels The Aquarian Gospel of Jesus the Christ from the “Akashic record” and publishes it in 1908. It purports to relate the activities during the “18 missing years” of Jesus of Nazareth’s life, when He visited Tibet and India. One must conclude that an inspired Nazarene carpenter could not have had personal visions enough to inaugurate a revolution in Palestine in particular and humanity in general.


1908: The Kybalion is published by the Yogi Publication Society. Written by a New Thought devotee, lawyer William Walter Atkinson (1862-1932), and possibly with the help of others, it purports to contain the essence of ancient esoteric philosophy, that of Egyptian sage Hermes Trismegistus. Many believe Swami Vivekananda, whom fellow New Thought member Atkinson met, was one of the shadow-authors of the work. As then, so now.

Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494) devoted his life to boosting the Corpus Hermeticum and Christian Kabbalah. He claimed that Kabbalistic interpretations of the Old Testament proved in a near-scientific manner the real existence and successful mission of Jesus Christ. His interpretation involved the practice of Gematria, in which Hebrew letters are assigned numbers and complex transformational operations are performed on these numbers/texts to reveal inner or hidden meanings. For this “added bonus” blessing Pico received a drubbing by the Catholic authorities, who forced a retraction from him; his Kabbalah, tainted with the Hermetic sciences of the ancients, was tantamount to black magic. Eventually he renounced all occult studies, falling in with his reactionary firebrand friend, Fra Savonarola, by 1492. Pico died at 31, the possible victim of poison.

Through the works of Dee, Khunrath, Boehme, alchemists Michael Maier, Robert Fludd, and scholars Athanasius Kircher and Johannes Reuchlin Christian Kabbalah was passed down the centuries via Pico from Córdoba, Spain where it was first systematized by the Jewish mystics in the 13th and 14th centuries. After Renaissance esoterists Pico and Reuchlin founded their non-Jewish Kabbalistic tradition, it would never leave the current of occult secret societies to this day.

Thus, Freemasons and former New Thought advocates William Woodman, William Westcott, and MacGregor Mathers (1854-1918) found the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn in 1887, researchers and practitioners of esoteric magic and lost lore. Mathers received a “cypher manuscript” from a “Fraulein Sprengel,” a member of the German Golden Dawn. It was composed in what would later be discovered as the Enochian alphabet that had been wrangled from the aether by Dr. John Dee and Edward Kelley through a system of grueling channeling sessions two and a half centuries earlier. Translation of the document provided the basis of an initiation system. Pico della Mirandola’s Kabbalah, Egyptian religion, the Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus, pagan traditions, and much else concern them. Its system involves ten degrees of initiation based upon the Sephiroth, the ten emanations of YHWH in Kabbalah. By working upward through these ten levels and their corresponding 22 paths (mirrored by the Tarot’s 22 major arcana symbols), one climbed a “stairway to heaven” and achieved a uniting with God and one’s Holy Guardian Angel.

At the same time the Society for Psychical Research were investigating the somnambulistic states of mediums, telepathy, clairvoyance, the Golden Dawn was you might say, approaching the same grail with the opposite strategy. For the Golden Dawn, the phenomena the SPR were trying to establish as real to the scientific community were already accepted launching-off points. The GD required their members to develop willpower to harness these natural submerged human gifts—hence their extensive system of ritual to bring it forth. They denigrated Spiritualism in general because it entailed acceptance of the medium’s passivity in submitting to the trance state and the “beings” through which it acted as a “field.” The magicians were concerned with developing the will, not abandoning it entirely as did mediums. Florence Farr’s Sphere group of Second Order initiates attempted to not only autohypnotize by means of sigil and symbol meditation but to create second and third bodies by these means in order to travel on other planes. Mathers’ version of John Dee’s Enochian angel-language system was used as preparatory entry into the astral field.

Poet William Butler Yeats is a member. Poet Aleister Crowley will join, fight over successorships, then quit to take over another, German-based group, the Ordo Templii Orientis, then form his own Thelema (“will” in Greek) church called the Astrum Argentum (Silver Star).


Golden Dawn associates Arthur Edward Waite (1857-1942) and artist Pamela Colman Smith (1878-1951) colloborate on creating a new tarot deck. It becomes the canonical set of these mysterious cards, whose imagery as pages in a book first appeared in southern France during the era of the troubadours and became turned into game cards popular during the Renaissance. Although no-one can claim with final authority exactly where the tarot originated, it is conjectured to be an ancient Egyptian esoteric work that made its way West through Arabic alchemist/Sufi scholars into the courts of Eleanor of Aquitaine in the 14th Century.


Charles Godfrey Leland (1824-1903) publishes Aradia, or the Gospel of the Witches, in 1899. Leland, a researcher into the beliefs of the ancient Etruscans, the Celts, Native Americans, and the European Roma, writes of the legend of Aradia, the witch goddess created by a union between the witch queen Tana (moon) and Lucifer (sun) destined to teach humankind the proper way of nature. Leland can be seen as a much tamer forerunner to British magician Aleister Crowley in that he was a freethinking anarchist whose Aradia preaches “my law is love unto all beings” to which echoes Crowley’s primary injunction, “the law is love, love under will.” Leland’s book has a strong influence on the Wiccan movement and Neo-Pagan resurgence five decades later.


Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925)—Goethe scholar and founder of Anthroposophy, a holistic psychology. After breaking with Theosophy, he lectures and writes voluminously on how humanity’s core spiritual traditions have been superseded by materialism. According to Steiner, materialism is not evil per se but a step in human evolution—a necessary evil to propel us further towards our cosmic goal. He starts schools that become known as Waldorf learning centers, which continue his education methods and beliefs, to this day.

Bucke illuination

After an intense philosophical discussion in the English countryside with friends about Romanticism, 35-year old Richard Maurice Bucke (1837-1902) gets into a hansom cab and sees a fire that is somehow outside and within the car. Suddenly he realizes this flame is within him, illuminating the space outwards. For several minutes he experiences consciousness outside spacetime and feels blessed with a glimpse of that perennial mystical state of oneness that inspires poets and ancient philosophers. Twenty-seven years of historical and religious study later, he finished Cosmic Consciousness (1901) , a huge compendium of mystical experience and its continuing elusive presence in humanity’s progress. Bucke stresses that such events portend evolutionary change in both consciousness and human abilities, an idea that Teilhard de Chardin, Esalen institute (1961) founder Michael Murphy, NDE psychologist Kenneth Ring, alien abduction researcher Dr John Mack and many others will amplify upon in the next century. 

****1904: Rudyard Kipling’s sister, a psychic medium, begins receiving eloquent communications via automatic writing (in distinction to the usual vague spiritual platitudes and near-Dada nonsense that comes through). The wife of a Cambridge don, a Mrs. Verrall, receives equally high-minded messages that conclude with the words “record the bits, and when fitted they will make the whole.” Over the next two years a dozen more unconnected mediums worldwide write communications of the same quality. One is signed “Myers.” When brought together the pieces seem to indicate that SPR members F.W. Myers, Henry Sidgwick, and Edmund Gurney, all of whom had passed on by 1903, were attempting communication from “the other side.” The messages individually make no sense, but when brought together form coherent envois from the deceased philosophers. This will be known as the “cross-correspondences,” and some of the best evidence for life after death that has ever been documented.


In 1905, author Sara Weiss publishes the “scientific romance” (as science fiction was then known) Journeys to the Planet Mars, or, Our mission to Ento (Mars): being a record of visits made to Ento (Mars) by Sara Weiss, Psychic, under the guidance of a spirit band, for the purpose of conveying to the Entoans a knowledge of the continuity of life.Despite its genre association with science fiction, Weiss is a medium and claims the book is one of genuine contact. It is a channeled work, complete with phonetic dictionary.


—In a perfect example of early American-brand techno-mysticism, the “rappings” of Spiritualist mediums 1850-1900 were conjectured to mirror the Morse code of the telegraph. Thomas Edison, in his later years a believer in Spiritualism, claims Guglielmo Marconi’s radio device can communicate with the dead—and, conveniently, Edison’s new phonograph will be able to record the transmissions with loved ones. So buy one now.

Journalist Charles Hoy Fort (1874-1932) collects tens of thousands of news clippings of unexplained anomalies, becomes a total skeptic of the positivist claims of science, and writes humorous books of his findings that become very popular. A Fortean Society is formed in Baltimore, counting amongst its members H.L. Mencken. Fort himself appropriately refuses even to join, much less chair the group. Any strange event—frog rains or stone falls, UFOs, out-of-place archaeological objects, Bigfoot encounters, teleported objects—becomes christened a “fortean” phenomenon. The society still exists, in both online and print magazines.

Before the outbreak of World War One, Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937) and Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) both claim to receive strange, coherent transmissions via radio they cannot account for (which may have been sferics, natural pulses of electromagnetic energy in the atmosphere). Tesla posits that the earth emits standing waves—further, that they can be altered, and used to transmit energy anywhere in the world. He claims he can harness them and proves he can transmit electricity wirelessly. Just imagine if this technology had been combined with a small telephonic unit.


Piotr D. Ouspensky’s Tertium Organum (1912) causes waves in the public and in Theosophical circles both. Ouspensky (1878-1947), a writer, has been traveling the Levant and Asia searching for “true” lost knowledge of ancient civilizations. In 1914, he finds it in the teachings of G.I. Gurdjieff. He writes extensively about Gurdjieff’s odd mix of Gnosticism, Sufism, and Pythagoreanism and becomes a booster for the “Fourth Way” or the “Work,” as Gurdjieff calls his techniques of waking oneself from the hypnotic sleep of consciousness. By 1921, Ouspensky is lecturing to packed houses that include T.S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley, Algernon Blackwood, and many other intellectuals.



Three shepherd children, Lucia Santos and Jacinto and Francisco Marto, begin to see a glowing “white lady” near a tree in Fatima, Portugal in May of 1917. They identify her as the Virgin Mary and she visits them on the same day for four straight months. The church attempts to censor the news but fail. Crowds grow each time, and witnesses see nothing but the children in trance-raptures before the tree. Some see a glow. In September a crowd of 10,000 witnesses hear a buzzing sound about the tree during the spectacle. The next month, October, 50,000 people show up on the rain–and are not disappointed. The clouds open and the sun dips down, spinning. Another disc-like lighted object is seen. People 20 miles away either sense or can see the strange lights on the horizon. There are healings, and the heat of the “objects” dries hundreds of pilgrims’ clothes instantly. Lucia is given three prophecies, only two of which have been made public and involve the “penitence of Russia, which has fallen from God” (remember, this was before the Bolshevik Revolution which eventually claimed hundreds of thousand of lives and ushered in Stalinist USSR) and generally rebuke people for turning away from the church.


American Henry Spencer Lewis (1883-1939) founds the Ancient Mystical Order of Rosea Crucis (AMORC) in 1915 and publishes many books on the occult and mysticism, particularly the Pyramids, reincarnation, and esoteric teaches of Jesus. The tenets of the New Thought movement spread outward and interest people like Lewis into investigating Rosicrucianism. An invention, the Luxatone, converts sound into color for help in his lectures. AMORC would for decades publish small advertisements in the backs of popular periodicals enticing the reader with occult powers, introducing thousands of the respondents to “secret” material culled from the Golden Dawn, OTO, and other esoteric orders.


1918: Sri Aurobindo Ghose (1872-1950) teaches that a universal “supermind” exists. It is our ultimate purpose to develop our latent faculties and actualize them. This thesis will later be echoed by others, with Teilhard Pierre de Chardin’s “noosphere” (intelligence-sphere) being the primary example. He develops Integral Yoga, predicated upon the notion of the involution and evolution of the spirit. Since all is ultimately spirit, the involution stage is likened to a theater-representation of spirit, using the material universe as a mask. With yogic practice one’s spiritual evolution can be sped up, as opposed to a “natural” material evolution that requires ages to unfold. Humankind is at a point between the natural and realizing our potential to actualize spirit. Between these two is the Supermind, an increasing connectivity between humanity’s consciousness and that of all in nature.

In 1921, Egyptologist Margaret Murray (1863-1963) publishes The Witch Cult in Western Europe, which advances the thesis that a “Dianic Cult” existed up until recent times and was what caused the witch hysteria and hunts of the 16th-18th centuries. It was primarily a fertility cult along the lines of the Eleusinian Mysteries, and was a legacy of the ancient religions of the pre-Christian Celts. According to Murray the esbats and sabbats were times of revelry and shamanistic trance and celebration of the Janus-legacy god’s yearly revival. It is criticized as a fanciful work, but nevertheless her book will form one of the founding anthropological texts for the Wiccan revival of the 1950s to the present. She follows it with The God of the Witches in 1933 and The Divine King in England in 1954.

Alice Bailey (1880-1949)—After missionary work in India and a failed marriage to an abusive clergyman, in 1914 Alice Bailey reads Theosophical literature regarding the Great Hidden Mahatmas and realizes that two encounters with a talkative apparition earlier in her life were with Master Koot Hoomi, one of Madame Blavatsky’s spiritual guides. She accepts a mission to become a promoter of the Great Hidden Mahatmas and spirit guides both individual and collective towards a future New Age of peace. She begins publishing channeled material in what will eventually become 24 books on Atlantis, Lemuria (an ancient civilization like Atlantis) using her corporation, the Lucifer (eventually Lucis) Publishing Company. The publications run through 1922-1960. Hard-boiled New York songwriter Lou Reed is a Bailey fan, and urges her works on all his friends.

***During the 1920s, the Christian evangelical Holiness movement extols the transformative powers of conversion and trance. The Holy Spirit for them is a direct presence that can be channeled. This leads to divine healing and glossolalia (speaking in tongues) and gifts of prophecy. Ideas of the New Thought movement sneakily underpin the working practices of faith healing; the Christ within heals by means of changed (converted) attitude. The Pentecostal-Apostolic movement begins, echoing shamanic techniques thousands of years old and universal in scope.


Mikao Usui (1865-1926), a devout Buddhist, draws on the Taoist principle of chi (energy form) and Buddhist tantric ideas to develop a form of energetic healing that uses hand motions upon a patient’s chi field. He trains over two thousand adherents. Chujiro Hayashi (1880-1940) spreads the practice of Reiki, teaching Hawayo Takata (1900-1980). She further brings it to Americans by way of Hawaii. By the present day, there are two million practitioners worldwide.


After meeting a secret Egyptian adept who teaches him of lost parts of the Koran, Timothy “Noble” Drew Ali (1866-1929) founds the Moorish Science Temple of America in New Jersey and Chicago. Ali draws upon Egyptology, Freemasonry, Gnosticism, Taoism in a syncretic mix. After his death his disciple Wallace Fard Muhammad (1893-?, pictured) founds the Nation of Islam in 1930. Fard’s disciple Elijah Muhammad develops and expands the organization when Fard disappears in 1934. Malcolm Little (1925-1965) accepts Elijah Muhammad’s teaching in prison after being visited by an apparition in his cell, and is christened Malcolm X.

1923-1942 a group of people in Chicago led by physicians William Sadler (1875-1969) and Lena Sadler (1875-1939) receives communications and notes that are eventually collected and edited into The Urantia Book, published complete in 1955. Like the Book of Mormon and Oasphe, it expounds a vast cosmology and alternative history of the Earth. In 1923, Sadler and Lena had conversations with the voices channeled from a “sleeping man” in their apartment building. He revealed that he was “a student visitor on an observation trip here from a far distant planet.” For almost 10 years their daughter Christy took notes. In the 1920s a group of friends put together a list of 4,000 questions for these beings and a few weeks later the sleeping man furiously wrote a manuscript that answered all of them.

After investigating deeply, skeptic and Scientific American columnist Martin Gardner discovers that it was Sadler’s brother-in-law, Wilfred Custer Kellogg. Sadler had been duped by other channelers in the past, most notably Ellen White, the founder of Seventh-Day Adventism, but he believed his brother-in-law was the real thing. Lena Sadler was the niece of Dr. John H. Kellogg of the famous Battle Creek Sanitarium, which treated celebrities like the Rockefellers, Montgomery Ward and even Thomas Edison. Kellogg was a notorious eugenicist and founded the Race Betterment Foundation, whose goals were “to call attention to the dangers which threaten the race.” Here’s a nugget from paper 51 of The Urantia Book: “The earlier races are somewhat superior to the later; the red man stands far above the indigo — black — race,” and “each succeeding evolutionary manifestation of a distinct group of mortals represents variation at the expense of the original endowment.” Furthermore, “The yellow race usually enslaves the green, while the blue man [which corresponds to Caucasians] subdues the indigo [black].”

Hate was in the air. Forty years later, in 1969, Mo Siegel, founder of New Agey Celestial Seasoning Teas, will discover the Urantia Book and devote his life to it, eventually becoming President of the Urantia Foundation.

The theme from “Jaws” gets louder in the distance.

Paintings by Roerich

Nikolas Roerich (1874-1947)—This Russian Himalayan explorer and painter is instrumental in promoting the Hindu/Tibetan legend of the Hidden Kingdom of Shambhala and the Kalki Avatar’s emergence from it to purge mankind’s evil at the end of the Kali Yuga. The verifiably ancient Asian prophecy eerily mirrors Christian, Mayan, and Hopi eschatologies.

In 1925 Alfred Watkins (1855-1935) publishes The Old Straight Track, introducing the idea of ley lines, or energy meridians within the earth’s surface that link ancient dolmen and rath sites in England. The earth, he claims, is cross-crossed with natural living forces that can be discerned and even controlled—an ancient technology long lost. Forty four years later, John Mitchell’s A View over Atlantis (1969) popularizes Watkins’s theories and ley-finding (dowsing) clubs are formed in England, the continent, and America.

The mysterious French alchemist Fulcanelli (who may in fact be Egyptologist and proto-fascist R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz, who we’ll meet) publishes The Mystery of the Cathedrals in 1926, claiming the structures contain eternal metaphysical truths embodied in stone. Much will be made of this book in the 1960s-present, by way of Pauwels’s & Bergier’s Morning of the Magicians, Colin Wilson’s The Occult, and Ernest Scott’s The People of the Secret.


Ernest Holmes (1887-1960) publishes The Science of Mind in 1926. Holmes was a New Thought advocate whose work touches on the New Prosperity paradigm, a Gilded Age school of self-improvement which leads directly to the get-rich-by-thought-alone absurdities of The Secret seventy years later. A mild form of ideal monism still underpins this philosophy.


1927: Folklorist W.Y. Evans-Wentz (1878-1965) publishes the first translation into English of the Bardo Thodol (Tibetan Book of the Dead) with an introduction by psychologist Carl Jung. He also collects vast amounts of fairy lore in the monumental Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, which along with Reverend Robert Kirk’s The Secret Commonwealth will eventually provide a multitude of cross-cultural parallels with “alien encounters” by researchers Jacques Vallee and John Keel.

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1928: At 26, Freemason Manly Palmer Hall (1901-1990) publishes The Secret Teachings of All Ages, a massive compendium of occultism Western and Eastern that is very popular from its publication to the present.


1928: Israel Regardie (1907-1985) becomes secretary to Aleister Crowley for a mere four years before being put off by the Great Beast’s habits. But, having absorbed quite a lot of esoterica in the process, he goes on to publish several influential books on Kabbalah, a biography of Crowley, and joined the 1900-born Stella Matutina (Morning Star, in distinction to Crowley’s Silver Star order) which was another offshoot of the Golden Dawn. Regardie then publishes what ostensibly is the entire ritual system of the Golden Dawn, but is actually the Stella Matutina’s take on the Enochian/Kabbalah/merkavah (chariot “stairway to heaven”) mysticism. These and Crowley’s writings will spawn many homespun study and ceremonial groups across the world, and help spur the interest amongst celebrities, notably the Material Girl Madonna Ciccone.

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From a young age, John William Dunne (1875-1949) has “contacts” with an invisible presence that assures him he will achieve a great accomplishment in his life. He goes on to become an aeronautical engineer. The presence speaks to him through dreams. He publishes An Experiment With Time in 1929, which gives an account of infinitely regressing (“serial”) types of consciousness to which humanity is subject, the second of which is “timeless” can perceive the future and past. Dunne logs precognitive dreams both he and others have that have come true. His books have a big impact on fiction writers and challenge horologists to this day.


In the 1920s, Howard Phillips Lovecraft (1890-1937) begins concocting an alternate history of the earth told through his horror tales about malign ancient extraterrestrial and interdimensional races of beings. The tales are full of “lost books” and forgotten civilizations whose psychic influence remains to plague modern man. Lovecraft creates a book called the Necronomicon, a book of spells to conjure ancient deities, within his stories that thirty years later will inspire the creation of a version of it. The stories are hugely popular to this day, spawning an entire subculture of devotees to the Cthulhu mythos.

J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986)—young polymath (pictured, bottom) chosen by Theosophist Society heads Annie Besant and Charles Leadbeater to lead a world peace and enlightenment movement. In 1929 he rejects this role and goes on to author many books on spirituality, mysticism, and evolutive consciousness.


Rene Guenon (1886-1951): beginning in 1921, this French Sufi, Freemason, cultural critic of modernity, and expounder and defender of traditional ideas writes many books on vanishing religious traditions. His critique of a “quantitative society” based upon technocracy and material science is some of the most insightful and damning evidence against “the Western way of life” ever written.


At 12 in 1915, a sickly boy named Sylvan Muldoon’s consciousness leaves his prone body, attached by a “silver cord” to his brain. He returns. Chronically in ill-health as a child (as many mystics, clairvoyants, and mediums historically seem to be) Muldoon (1903-1969) finds that he is adept at temporarily separating a part of his consciousness and traveling out of his body. After reading a failed treatment on the subject of “astral travel” by a practitioner, Mr. Lancelin, quoted in one of psychic researcher Hereward Carrington’s books, Muldoon writes Carrington (1880-1958) directly to give him a wealth of techniques to control the astral body once it leaves. They publish The Projection of the Astral Body in 1929. It is followed in 1951 by the more popular The Phenomenon of Astral Projection. Both are how-to guides, and inspire people to experiment with this ancient siddhi to the present. 

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Novelist Upton Sinclair (1878-1968) conducts experiments in telepathy and what will be eventually called “remote viewing” with his wife Mary. Sinclair claims she successfully reproduced 65 images and partially reconstructed 155 (out of 290) painted by her brother she had never before seen. His book on the experiment, Mental Radio (1930) popularizes “telepathy” as a term and Albert Einstein writes the forward to the German translation.


Violet Mary Firth has visions of her past lives at age five. She comes under “psychic attack” by her horticulture college warden at 23, leading to a breakdown which leads her to study psychology. She reads Theosophical literature and joins the Golden Dawn-offshoot Alpha et Omega lodge in 1919. Trance mediumship in which she encounters one of the ubiquitous Ascended Masters follows. Her mentor Freemason Theodore Moriarty teaches her about Atlantis and its lost knowledge. Through the lodge and her other mentor, Maiya Curtis-Webb, she became adept at Christian Kabbalah. Firth forms the Fraternity of the Inner Light, which emphasizes the works of Jesus, in reaction to the lack of deep interest in Christianity by Theosophists. At Glastonbury, The Cosmic Doctrine is channeled by Firth and her friend Charles Loveday via “inspirational mediumship” (subconscious contact). Again, seven planes of existence are taught to exist. This idea goes back through Theosophy all the way to Egyptian religion and probably earlier, due to the association of the seven planetary influences (Sun, Moon, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Venus, Mars). **This working procedure, minus the Theosophical-historical associations, will be echoed some 40 years later when despondent psychiatrist Helen Shucman receives a “voice” that will dictate to her A Course in Miracles with colleague William Thetford as scribe.
When Moina Mathers, widow of Golden Dawn founder McGregor Mathers, rejects Firth’s rising star-status and new organization and having the wrong “signs in her aura,” Firth again comes under psychic attack. The world of ceremonial magic is showing itself as worse than straight-up secular politics.
Firth obtains land at the foot of Glastonbury Tor and a headquarters in central London. Etheric contact is established at the Tor. She becomes head of the Christian Mystic Lodge of the Theosophical Society in 1928 then abandons all contact with Theosophy. Firth abandons the Himalayan Great Mahatmas doctrine. She publishes occult-themed novels, then books related to her work with the higher realms under the name Dion Fortune, including Psychic Self Defense (1930) and The Mystical Qabbalah (1935) the latter which showed her increasing interest in ceremonial magic.

George Ivanovich Gurdjieff (1866-1949) —explorer, sacred dance teacher, writer, musician, and expounder of “esoteric Christianity” he calls the Fourth Way teaches publicly in Paris and establishes the Institute for the Harmonious Development of Man. Claiming to have traveled extensively in Asia Minor and Tibet, and gaining access to remote monasteries where lost disciplines had been preserved, Gurdjieff teaches that humanity is in a state of walking hypnosis/sleep as the result of a genetic change that occurred hundreds of thousands of years ago. By intense Work on the three basic aspects of human existence—body, emotion, and intellect—one can create concentrations of energy that activate higher levels of being, and one can gradually become awake and possess something resembling “will.” Russian journalist and speculative philosopher Piotr D. Ouspensky (1878-1947) discovers Gurdjieff’s system in 1914, popularizes his ideas, then breaks with him. John Godolphin Bennett is also an acolyte, founding a center in England to continue the tradition of inner development.


Aleister Crowley (1875-1947)—poet, magician, trickster, druggie, mountaineer, author. An upstart Golden Dawn member who, after being ejected from that body, joined the English lodge of a German esoteric group, the Order of the Eastern Templars (Ordo Templis Orientiis: OTO). An OTO successorship battle causes him to form his own magical group, the Silver Star (Astrum Argentium, or A A). His studies of astrology, Kabbalah, Egyptian lore, and hatred of Christianity lead him to form the philosophy of Thelema, which is channeled by an entity called Aiwass through his wife Rose in 1904. This crucial year becomes for Crowley and his eventual followers the beginning of the New Age of Horus, the Conquering Child. After a grueling ritual in the Algerian desert in 1909, Crowley crowns himself the “Great Beast 666.” Christianity will be wiped out by his new religion, Thelema (Greek for “willpower”). He styles himself the sole prophet of the Aeon of Horus–and serious controversy follows him everywhere, mostly due to the adoption of Tibetan and Hindu tantric sex practices adapted into his own ceremonial forms. In 1918 in New York he performs the “Amalantrah Working” to meet his Holy Guardian Angel and contacts an interdimensional being called LAM, which is accompanied by a glowing egg. Crowley sketches the being:


Looks like something we’ll get to know a lot in the post-war years…Speaking of which, his student John Whiteside Parsons (1914-1952), a chemical engineer, “alchemist”, and ceremonial magician, continues the quest. Parsons, L. Ron Hubbard and Hubbard’s wife try to complete the Babalon Working, a magick sex ritual with the “Scarlet Whore.” It is meant to produce a “moonchild” who will have stupendous psychic and occult powers. Ironically, Parsons fails to detect in the ether his own death by experimental rocket fuel combustion at his house in 1952. Hubbard abandons the OTO and goes on to create the ultimate tax dodge, brainwashing experiment, and extraterrestrial-worshipping cult all in one: the Church of Scientology. The Church heroically battles Werner Erhard’s est (now Landmark Forum), the German government, various tax agencies, and rival cults for human souls to this day.


Edgar Cayce (1877-1945)—prodigious Christian trance channeler and psychic becomes the most accurate prognosticator in history. His lifelong work of personal “readings” of individuals’ karmic situations revives American interest in reincarnation and Atlantis.


Japanese scholar Daisetzu Teitaro Suzuki (1870-1966) writes Essays in Zen Buddhism (1927-1934). Translated into English in the 1950s, they have a gradual but subsequent enormous impact upon Western culture via the expositions of Alan Watts, Paul Reps, and many other writers and lecturers. ***The character Master Yoda indirectly teaches the Tao-Zen philosophy to hundreds of millions through the Star Wars films; when we first meet him in The Empire Strikes Back he is performing a Bodhidharma-like character of the holy fool—until Luke Skywalker’s impatience causes him to drop the facade. 

In 1934, theosophist Guy Ballard (1878-1939) claims he has met the Ascended Master alchemist Count St. Germain on Mount Shasta in California. He is taken beneath the mountain, where he is counseled by 12 Venusian Masters. He and his wife Edna spend the next five years spreading the gospel of the I AM Activity, the first explicitly extraterrestrial contactee movement, 15 years before UFOs and their occupants become widely reported and an underground occult phenomenon. Back in 1905, a book called A Dweller on Two Planets was published by Frederick Spencer Oliver, which tells of Lemurians escaping the destruction of their home and taking up residence under the mountain. Although written between 1883/1884 and 1886, it was published after Oliver’s death, and was allegedly channeled through automatic writing. Ballard was probably influenced by this work, and introduced the term “Ascended Masters” to the world.

As we’ve seen, Swedenborg, Madame Blavatsky, D’Alveydre, Andrew J. Davis, Cyrus Teed, Aleister Crowley, Edgar Cayce, Sara Weiss, Helene Smith, and the Sadlers have all claimed contact with higher intelligences that guide their pens and plans. In the future, Helen Schucman (A Course in Miracles, 1965-1974), Jane Roberts (The Seth Material), Philip K. Dick (as the basis of his final novels), Billy Meier (Plejaren communications), and countless UFO contactees will continue receiving on different frequencies. Channeling is as old as humanity, and continues to this day. 

1935: Physicist Erwin Schrodinger’s interpretation of the Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky quandary regarding the entangled states of quantum particles uneasily implies that observation and measurement is necessary to create definite experimental results—and by extension, the results of any experiment whatsoever. Some theorists (decades later) even claim that a mental corollary to the “collapse of wave functions” is necessary to produce any conscious phenomena. Schrodinger regards his “Cat in a Box” thought experiment as a reduction ad absurdum argument, but there is no viable alternative to counter its ridiculous conclusion that the boxed cat, at the mercy of a decaying uranium chunk that will trigger a poison gas, is in a superposed state of being both alive and dead until the box is opened and observed. Seven years earlier, Werner Heisenberg discovered the limits to measurable observation of the subatomic world with his uncertainty principle. Together, it seems that physics has hit a wall…Thirty years later, Scottish physicist John Bell will propose that an experiment measuring the changed polarization of one of a set of twin particles (“born” at the same time but moving in opposite directions) might solve the entanglement problem–but, given a simultaneous change in the sister particle, it would negate Einsteinian locality, that is, the absolute speed of light that Einstein claims is inviolable for an observer. The experiment has been performed, and the non-local entanglement proved, at least four times. How is the polarization information communicated faster than light speed between the particles?


*****By this time, active interest or participation in non-Christian traditions is tolerated as eccentricity. Behind the Judeo-Christian facade of America however, Freemasonry has spawned hundreds of similar fraternities, from the International Order of Odd Fellows, the African-American Prince Hall Order, the Shriners, the Rotarians, et cetera. America has become a nation full of secret societies–the KKK most notoriously. Esoteric belief systems with Egyptian roots are running parallel to members’ public affiliation with the varieties of Christianity and Judaism practiced across the land. In 1935, Franklin Delano Roosevelt mandates a Masonic eye/pyramid symbol be placed on the US $1 bill. This will inspire much speculation decades later and bring the Freemasons under scrutiny again.
With technological wonders such as the Hoover Dam and the turbine engine striking a magickal resonance in the American psyche, the machine seems to be writing its own hagiography into the soul. The new is rightfully displacing the old. Medicine is rapidly advancing against disease. Science fiction works show visions of machine-run worlds of the future.

It is this backdrop of “perfectibility” of humanity via technology that the Transhumanist movement will eventually arise five decades later, in the 1980s, a melange of Silicon Valley know-how and Timothy Leary-style techno-dreams of human immortality. This end-project was long ago prophesied by Sir Francis Bacon and the Rosicrucians.


In 1934, Nazi SS officer and scholar Otto Rahn (1904-1939) writes The Crusade Against the Grail, about the suppressed French-Spanish Cathar (Albigensian) sect of the Middle Ages and the Cathar’s connection to the Holy Grail. He is first to conjecture that the true Grail has something to do with a royal bloodline—an Aryan bloodline, of course. We see what Dan Brown does with this in his Da Vinci Code. It’s not pretty.

The Long Island Church of Aphrodite is formed in 1939 by Russian exile Gleb Botkin (1900-1969). Botkin despises the gynophobia of the orthodox Christian churches and has personal revelations of the Goddess as primary deity. Convert W. Colman Keith writes Divinity as the Eternal Feminine in 1959 and helps set in motion American goddess worship.


Wilhelm Reich (1897-1957) moves to America from Austria in 1939. A dissident Freudian psychoanalyst, Reich comes to believe in an energy force he calls orgone, which peaks in humans during orgasm. He builds a machine to accumulate the energy (without any of the fun), claiming it can cure disease. In 1954, he develops the “cloudbuster” (shown above) to dissipate the negative energy (deadly orgone=DOR) unleashed by both nuclear weapons tests and the UFOs he believes are plaguing him and his followers. His cloudbusting machines apprarently work, and farmers call him to use the simple machine to create rain. After the AMA and FBI get wind of a growing movement, his works are banned, his orgone accumulator machines are destroyed in a witch hunt that rivals the Nazis’s destruction of “non-Aryan” literature and art, and he dies in prison. He must really have been onto something!


In 1944, Amazing Stories editor Ray Palmer (1910-1977) publishes (the likely schizophrenic) Richard Shaver’s tale I Remember Lemuria. It inspires paranoia in many of its readers, who begin to send in their own tales of encounters with Shaver’s “Deros”, a malicious underground robotic race who inhabited the surface of the earth millennia ago. As we’ve seen, a good/evil/powerful society in the hollow earth is an idea thousands of years old in Hinduism.

A folk phenomenon like Palmer/Shaver’s will be echoed forty years later when “experiencer” Whitley Strieber receives tens of thousands of letters from people recounting encounters with paranormal beings like the ones he described in his book Communion.

In 1946-47, Palmer publishes Harold Sherman’s Green Man tales, which also appeared in Amazing Stories. The tales, featuring Numar, the green-skinned main character, were apparently inspired by Sherman’s own odd experience in 1945: Sometime in the year 1945, when Martha and I were living in Chicago, I had a series of visions wherein I saw Space Beings, possessed of high intelligence, visiting our Earth in space ships of different shapes and sizes, for the purpose of exploration and eventually to fill our skies with large space vehicles, coming in force, hopefully on a friendly mission to help Mankind save itself from self-destruction.

Sound familiar? Klaatu barada nikto!


***With Dr. Mystic (1935), a psychic detective, comic books regularly treat the paranormal and supernormal in their stories and characters. Superman (1939) is an extraterrestrial. The ancient gods and hidden occult forces are real (Captain Marvel [1939]) Radiation is a force that can mutate humans into superhumans (Spider-Man [1962]). There are secret schools for these mutated humans (The X-Men [1963]). The effect of these characters and ideas on youth for the next four generations will be incalculable. Just look at Hollywood. Just look.


In 1946, Parmahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) publishes The Autobiography of a Yogi, which eventually introduces millions of people to meditation and yoga, including Beatle George Harrison in 1966 and a teenage Steve Jobs. The book becomes a spiritual classic.


1946-1953: Dr. Meade Layne (1882-1961) works with trance medium Mark Probert (pictured) to channel knowledge about “extraterrestrial” entities, who claim they are actually intra-dimensional beings who hack our terran and human energy fields to materialize their vehicles. This early pre-flying-saucer craze hypothesis is ridiculed during the classic UFO years (1947-1973) in favor of the nuts-and-bolts, mechanical spacecraft theory, until Layne’s intra-dimensional theory reemerges with a vengeance, beginning with John Keel’s Operation Trojan Horse (1970) and The Mothman Prophecies (1975) and the ET-skeptical works of mathematician/ufolologist Jacques Vallee (1939–).


R.A. Schwaller de Lubicz (1887-1961) studies mathematics and mysticism while growing up. On a trip to Egypt in the 1920s, the asymmetrical Temple of Luxor fascinates him. He spends the next twelve years measuring the structures and discovers knowledge of both the Golden Ratio and Phi encoded in the architecture.  This leads him to a series of interpretations of abstract symbolic messages in the whole of the Egyptian architectural history. He believes their religion was embodied in buildings that reflected advanced astronomical knowledge that was not entirely endemic to Egyptian genius, but the legacy of a previous highly advanced civilization that has been lost to history. His Temple of Man published in 1949 kicks off a new paradigm with which to study the Egyptian religion. He also is an adherent of d’Alveydre’s Synarchist movement, which preaches a rigidly theocratic society, and is friends with Hitler’s right-hand man Rudolf Hess. His Egyptology will be boosted by John Anthony West in the 1970s to the present, and Graham Hancock will boost West’s ideas in the 1990s with Fingerprints of the Gods. Here’s the beginnings of pyramid power mysticism…

***1946 onward: Extended contact with UFOs and supposed messages from the “extraterrestrial intelligences” begins, continuing to the present day. A very short list of persons would include: Guy Ballard, Mark Probert, George Adamski, George King, Eugenio Siragusa, Pierre Monnet, Billy Meier, Ruth Norman, Truman Bethurum, George Hunt Williamson, Orfeo Angelucci, George van Tassel, Claude Vorilhon (“Rael”), Woodrow Derenberger, Marshall Applewhite, Howard Menger, Betty Andreasson, Carla Rueckert, and Whitley Strieber. “Space Brother” contactee George Hunt Williamson proclaims a “New Age” in connection with the equinoctial turn to Aquarius in 1953…As mentioned above, in the 1960s and 1970s journalist John Keel and mathematician Jacques Vallee are the only two real skeptics about these being extraterrestrial contacts, and they cover the progress of cult-like movements surrounding contactees in their books. They warn that utilizing single frames of reference when dealing with UFO phenomena and believing anything these “ultraterrestrial” (Keel’s term) beings say will invariably bring ruin to investigator and devotee alike. They are proven correct many times, most notoriously by the Heaven’s Gate mass suicide in 1997.


Poet Robert Graves (1895-1985) publishes The White Goddess: a Historical Grammar of Poetic Mythin 1948. By analyzing the Celtic and Levantine myths, Graves sees his project as a deeper continuation of Frazer’s The Golden Bough and posits an ancient goddess cult, for which “white goddess” is the moon, that was product of matriarchal cultures. For Graves this was something of a Golden Age that fell with the warring gods of Babylon and the Hebrews. The book will influence paganism and the Wiccans following Gerald Gardner’s movement, despite archaeological and anthropological criticisms of its etymological methods and conclusions.


While operating on a conscious epileptic person in 1952, neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield (1891-1976) electrically stimulates parts of the brain’s temporal lobes apparently connected to memory: the patient reports vivid relivings of past moments in their life. Penfield finds he can do this at will with other patients as well. Some philosophers and scientists come to regard this is evidence that everything done in life is in fact recorded—yet even the billionfold neural complexity of the brain could not contain an “informational database” so large, what with all the other constant tasks it must perform. Some see this experiment as implying consciousness does not reside in the brain, but that the brain filters down its experiences from a greater field into manageable parallel currents; in other words, Penfield’s electrodes disrupted the smooth functioning of the filtering operation and caused the patient’s conscious ego to “jump” to an earlier spacetime point. Others think it is evidence that the Akashic Records can be scientifically proven to exist (there is just a small difference between the two ideas). Although Penfield’s tests have been replicated, materialist-minded neuroscientists, ever-fearing the taint of a non-computational model of the brain, prefer to call these “hallucinated memories.” Penfield’s studies will be referenced in dozens of New Age books touting the Akashic Field, Huxley’s Mind-at-Large, and the holographic universe model. 

L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986) in 1949 publishes Dianetics and in 1953 begins the Church of Scientology to capitalize on and exploit the emptiness caused by Western materialism, the fearful paranoia of the Cold War, and the spiritual vertigo caused by the massive insanity of World War Two. Thousands succumb to cheap electrical skin galvanic meters, quasi-Freudian/Reichian emotion-repression theory, and fork over increasing amounts of scratch to advance up the hierarchy, only to learn they’ve joined some sort of UFO cult. Hail Xenu!


B.K.S. Iyengar (1918-2014) teaches Hatha yoga in Pune, India in 1934. Amongst his students is J. Krishnamurti. Befriending violinist Yehudi Menuhin in 1952, Iyengar becomes an international guru and popularizes the ancient body-contact practice worldwide. His 1966 Light on Yoga is a bestseller, begetting a second-wave interest in the discpline seven decades after Swami Vivekananda’s American and British tours of 1893-7.


Immanuel Velikovsky (1895-1979) publishes in 1950 Worlds in Collision, detailing his theory of gravitational instability in the solar system and its relation to ancient mythological stories. The scientific establishment attacks him in what only can be called an Inquisition second only to the martyrdom of Wilhelm Reich seven years later. The publisher is forced to retract the book. His predictions on Venus turn out to be true. Comparative mythologist David Talbott (1942-) will vastly advance Velikovsky’s work in the 1990s to the present, drawing upon a new plasma-electrical physics of the universe.

In 1951 psychologist Carl Jung (1875-1961) collaborates with physicist Wolfgang Pauli (1900-1958) to produce Synchronicity: An Acausal Connecting Principle, a study of how personal meaning is generated from odds-defying events observed in the “outer” world. Two decades and a half later, Arthur Koestler will popularize Jung’s idea with his Roots of Coincidence. Sting of the Police will never be the same. What a pity.

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With the 1951 repeal of the Witchcraft Acts in Britain, Gerald Gardner (1884-1964) formally inaugurates the Wiccan movement. He claims he was initiated into a goddess-worshipping coven by a woman in 1939. He publishes a series of grimoires and instructional books on supposed lost traditions, some borrowed from the Golden Dawn and Leland’s Aradia, this latter published fifty years earlier. His beliefs are aligned with Margaret Murray’s, that an ancient nature and goddess worshipping tradition existed up to the present, hidden by familial and coven successions. A friend of Aleister Crowley, he also lifts much material from Crowley’s OTO and Thelema material for his Book of Shadows, leading many–especially esoterically-informed fundamentalist Christians–to think Wicca is a “gateway” practice to Crowley’s dark visions of the Age of Horus and the overthrow of Christianity. Although critics have a field day dissecting what he invented and what he borrowed, his work is the single most influential in the development of Wicca.
******I must mention here that both Elliott Rose’s and Isaac Bonewits’s virulent critiques of Wicca and Neo-paganism in general are steeped in the obsessive scientistic practice to classify, taxonomize, and operate on the principle that by examining pedigree and progeny one can simply dismiss a social phenomenon as less than legitimate or even bogus. This could in effect apply to any religious system, negating the approaches to a deep spiritual well. The matter is less one of authenticity to a tradition than a spirit of reverence that finds outlet spontaneously in what appears to the practitioner. The practice of ceremonial magick, especially in a group setting, can wrought deep psychological transformations in people, for better or worse (from experience, mostly better).


Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) experiments with peyote and writes The Doors of Perception in 1954, a touchstone in psychonautical literature that explores the nature of religious visions.


The Urantia Book appears in mass print in 1955 after thirty years’ private circulation.

Chinese philosophy scholar and Jesuit Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) publishes The Phenomena of Man in 1955, an exegesis positing true mental evolution of humanity, coining the term “noosphere,” a concept similar to Plato’s realm of Forms and Sri Aurobindo’s Supermind. The noosphere is akin to a “field” for mental memes, or Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic resonance (1981), but with more emphasis on ideas’ causal efficacy in the human mental realm. They can effect changes in the minds that receive them, and have almost an independent existence in which to evolve. With the noosphere, Chardin anticipates James Lovelock’s Gaia hypothesis but with a decided anthropocentric spin. Technology—Marshall McLuhan’s “extensions of man”—will make all humans cosmopolitans and eventually, mentally interconnected. Chardin conjectures that there will be an eventual Omega Point to consciousness in which all will fuse into one field that yet preserves the individuality of each of its “moments”—individual minds. This end-scenario also echoes medieval monk Joachim of Flores’s eschatology of the New Age 900 years ago—and for Chardin caused equal trouble as Joachim had with authorities. The Jesuit was in constant trouble with the Vatican over his philosophical musings and his acceptance of evolution; it took The Phenomenon of Man 15 years from completion to get publication permission from the Holy See.

1959: The 14th Dalai Lama and his entourage begin to disseminate Tibetan Tantric ideas to pilgrims in Dharamsala, India, after forced exile from their homeland by the Chinese Communists.

Buddhism was brought to the Himalayan plateau in the eighth century and evolved several different lineages. Tibet’s indigenous Bonpo shamanism involved many nature deities; a continuity with this is the Tibetan Buddhist state authorities’ consulting with the Nechung oracle, who can become possessed by spirits to induce clairvoyance and see the future. The Bonpo deities became incorporated in many cases into symbols of emotional and mental aspects of human psyche, giving Tibetan religion its oft-bewildering variety of beings. Its advanced tantric practices, in some cases believed to be thousands of years old, are meant to acclimatize oneself to and subdue the many “demons and angels” created in ignorance by the personality. This leads one to the possibility of cultivating compassion and eventual release from incarnations by nirvana.
In 1964 seeker Robert Thurman makes his way to Dharamsala to learn directly from the tulkus and the Dalai Lama himself, becoming the first officially ordained non-Himalayan Gelugpa monk. He goes on to academia and becomes professor of religion at Amherst then Columbia University, lecturing to thousands about Tibetan culture and introducing the Dalai Lama to America in the late 1970s and throughout the 80s.

***The Beats: Fascinated by Zen and Buddhism, the novelist Jack Kerouac (1922-1969, bottom) practices meditation and incorporates Buddhist philosophy into his characters’ worldviews. Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997, upper right) also expounds Buddhist and Vedanta ideas in his poetry. Neal Cassady (1926-1968) is a sometime acolyte of the psychic Edgar Cayce. William Burroughs (1914-1997) flirts with both Scientology and Wilhelm Reich’s theories of orgone energy. The widespread popularity of these authors introduce millions to Eastern religion, magick, and “fringe science” ideas. 


May 1957: R. Gordon Wasson (1896-1986), Vice President of J.P. Morgan bank, ethnomycologist, and no woo-woo kind of guy, writes an article about his experimentation in Mexico with psilocybin mushrooms and shamanic experiences in LIFE magazine, coining the term “magic mushroom.”


Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (1918-2008) begins a relentless series of world tours promoting Transcendental Deep Meditation that last from 1958-1968. 40,000 TM teachers are trained around the globe. The Maharishi’s movement attracts celebrities. Inevitable commercialization sets in.


****The atom bomb and the lunatic children masquerading as world leaders playing chess with them make tens of millions of relatively sane human beings question the very philosophical foundations of our “civilization.” The reigning answer to this predicament, especially for alienated youth, seems to be: anything but this, anywhere but here, anytime but now. Thus:

Thomas Szasz (1920-2012) scathingly criticizes the field of psychiatry as lacking objective, falsifiable criteria that would establish it as a science in The Myth of Mental Illness (1960). He also takes to tack its unspoken purpose—as a form of social control. Using voluminous examples from the Soviet Union, he claims psychiatry and psychology are easily amenable to abuses both political and social—and the same can happen here in America as in the USSR. Along with Columbia University professor C. Wright Mills’s critiques of the “Power Elite”/military-industrial complex and the New School for Social Research’s many thinkers excoriating the technocratic society, views such as Szasz’s grant intellectual imprimatur and inspiration to the many social liberation movements of the 1960s.


Ufologist Brinsley la Poer Trench (1911-1995) publishes The Sky People in 1959, the first book to explicitly advance an “ancient astronaut” theory. With Trevor James Constable, he eventually propounds that UFOs are actually living beings with which we share the earth—effectively cutting him out of all polite “nuts-and-bolts ETs” ufological discussion to join a long list of also-rans.


Jacques Bergier (1912-1978) and Louis Pauwels (1920-1997) write The Morning of the Magicians in 1959. It introduces young French and English-speaking audiences to the ideas of G.I. Gurdjieff, Aleister Crowley, Rosicrucianism, astrology, Freemasonry, alchemy, Forteana, extraterrestrials as cultural gods, the Pyramids, the 1554 Piri Reis map showing subglacial Antarctica, the only-visible-from-the-sky Nazca figures in Peru, and Naziism as an occult-magical political religion (especially Himmler’s SS and Hitler’s “invisible familiar”). It is considered a seminal text of the countercultural 1960s.

***After extensive unsuccessful experimentation as a truth serum, torture agent, or potential assassination tool in the 1950s under project names BLUEBIRD, ARTICHOKE, and MKULTRA, the CIA unwittingly (?) unleashes the psychedelic revolution on American public by making LSD available to universities for volunteer psychological testing in 1960. The LSD experiments under ULTRA are but a single strand in the CIA’s enormous covert search to create unconscious assassins, spontaneous amnesia, “zombies” who will follow any orders, and spies impervious to interrogation and torture. LSD’s unsupervised recreational use surges until it is outlawed in 1966, but continues to blow minds and make people shun clothes for three decades.


Psychiatrist Stanislav Grof (1931-) In 1960, Grof pioneers the use of LSD and altered states of consciousness as therapeutic tools to heal patients until the drug is outlawed in 1966. He explores distinctions between the hylotropic and holotropic modes of consciousness; the former is the ordinary, “consensus reality” we daily inhabit, and the latter in which a person feels oneself as part of a greater whole. These differences are found in the Hindu Vedanta teachings—just one example demonstrating the New Age is merely the oldest of wisdom, rediscovered.


Alan Watts (1915-1973)—Episcopal priest who studied Eastern religions and popularized Zen Buddhism begins lecturing to crowds of young people eager to “get with it.” Through his eloquence, erudition and charm he gains an enormous following and writes many books on spirituality.


1962: Michael Murphy and Richard Price found the Esalen Institute on the Big Sur California coast to explore human potentialities in a communal setting of inquiry and practice. On its cliffs one day, Don Draper meditates with a group, has a revelation, and decides to buy the world a Coke and keep it company.

1962: Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) writes the classic The Structure of Scientific Revolutions and introduces the concept of “paradigmatic science.” In his theory, the anomalies encountered during the course of normal scientific experiments are ignored until they pile up and can be ignored no longer; perhaps newer technology or a flood of new practitioners into the discipline amplifies their observed occurrence. A young practitioner’s mind, free of the older expert’s long training, notices a pattern within the anomalies invisible to the older practitioner’s eyes, theorizes on it, and makes falsifiable hypotheses. It is then tested without failure. More young practitioners discover the same result. It is not accepted as a viable theory by the old practitioners, but over time the young scientists fill in the new theory’s gaps and accept the theory. The old practitioners die off and the new theory reigns. Is it closer to “truth”? Kuhn says perhaps—but it can always be undermined by a broader theory that unifies it under a new “law” due to a further set of resolved anomalies.

The term “paradigm” is picked up by the business world and used to sell changes in commercial and bureaucratic practice as capitalism goes transnational in the 1980s, then used by various psychologists and parapsychologists, who try to apply the conjectures of quantum physics to consciousness and paranormal abilities in particular. With ecological destruction becoming more evident, the “control” ideologies of technological/industrial society, as paradigms of social functioning, comes under unrelenting assault to this day.


1962: marine biologist Rachel Carson (1907-1964) writes Silent Spring, the opening salvo of the ecology movement. Although the book focuses on pesticides, and leads to the banning of DDT, it alerts millions to the potential effects of our petro-based chemical way of life on the environment.

Frank Waters (1902-1995) publishes The Book of the Hopi in 1963, outlining the history, ontology, and mythology of the Its timeline for the end of the Fourth (current) World dovetails eerily with the end of the Mayan long-count calendar and also the dates projected for the close of the Kali Yuga (dark age) in Vedic literature.

Shamanism, especially that of the Native American and northern Siberia Irkutsk peoples, becomes an academically popular subject through Mircea Eliade’s book Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasyin 1964. Eliade’s work gives detailed descriptions of culturally universal initiations by these spirit-chosen healers that will eventually be compared to out-of-body and near death experiences, faith healing, crystal healing, holotropic breath work, and so-called alien abductions. Five years later in 1969 Carlos Castaneda will further popularize shamanism with his fictionalized Don Juan Matus series. In 1980 Michael Harner will reintroduce Americans to the practices, especially with the use of drumming and hallucinogens, of spirit travel to the underworld and overworlds.


With Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (1964), Dame Frances Yates (1899-1981) explores the role of Neo-Platonist philosophy during the Renaissance in the creation of both science and the occult. Philologist Marsilio Ficino’s and Bruno’s translations and printings of Plotinus and Plato spur a new mysticism of mind-nature with micro-macrocosm. Yates follows this with the influential work The Rosicrucian Enlightenment (1972), which posits that the three mysterious Rosicrucian tracts of 1604-1618 may have been the work of a secret society of alchemist-protoscientists begun by John Dee, Francis Bacon, Heinrich Khunrath, and Michael Maier some 30 years earlier in Prague, functioning both as a anti-Catholic “psy-op” and call to esotericists to unite. She speculates that a real Brotherhood of the Rosy Cross, whose creation followed in the 1620s, would eventually form the core of Francis Bacon-inspired empiricists who began the Royal Society of London. Thus the scientific method and the oldest scientific fraternity in history explicitly emerge from a non-existent group of mystics whose coming was foretold in the manner of a quasi-science fiction narrative. Can the world get stranger?

Well…look at this:

1963: dissatisfied British Scientologists Robert Moor (1935-) and Mary Ann MacLean (?-2005) leave the Church of Scientology while continuing to explore its techniques of self-analysis. After finding success with an increasing group of core analysands, they collectively travel to Xtul on the Yucatan peninsula to establish a commune. There they are contacted and bonded together by a “higher intelligence” during a group meditation. Moor (now Robert “DeGrimston”) and MacLean found the Process Church of the Final Judgment and prosthelytize in London and America, preaching a psychological development based on individual identification with four archetypes they call Jehovah, Lucifer, Jesus Christ, and Satan. Controversy and kitschy black clothing follows them everywhere.

Dark rumor also follows them everywhere, from involvement in the Manson family killings to the “Son of Sam” shooting spree of 1976-77. All of this, according to journalist Maury Terry, hinted at a nationwide underground network of drug dealing, snuff films, “Satanic” rituals and assassins. Charles Manson, fresh out of jail, was in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury during the 1967 Summer of Love and was couch-surfing just down the block from a Process center and definitely interacted with its members; Processeans also visited him in jail after his arrest in 1969…In 1975, “Son of Sam” killer David Berkowitz shot to death several German shepherds in his Bronx neighborhood, a breed of dog beloved by Mary Ann MacLean and the Process’ inner circle, before going on his killing spree. By the time Berkowitz killed the dogs, MacLean had dumped DeGrimston, had changed the Church’s name to the Foundation Faith of the Millennium, and had been living in Pound Ridge, Westchester County, New York, 35 miles north of Berkowitz’s neighborhood. Terry suspects Berkowitz interacted with Process/Foundation members via the Carr brothers John and Michael—the two sons of Sam Carr, Berkowitz’s neighbor in Yonkers—who were reputedly members of Satanist cult. At the time, MacLean was attempting to procure German shepherds for their own burgeoning dog shelter (the Foundation Faith would morph into the Best Friends animal shelter in Utah in 1982). As Terry tells it, Berkowitz feigned insanity when arrested to protect himself and his family members from assassination by the cult members—yet left voluminous clues to its existence in his letters, apartment wall scrawlings, and post-arrest rants. What is a “Son of Sam”? Berkowitz first claimed to receive “orders” from a demon-possessed telepathic dog owned by Sam Carr, when in fact Carr’s sons were beyond doubt involved in some sort of cult activity that had roped in Berkowitz just before his dog-killings. According to Terry, the answer was staring the cops in the face once Berkowitz was arrested, that the Carr brothers and the “Satanic” cult they were associated with were a part of the killing spree. Sam Carr’s sons John and Michael both died under suspicious circumstances, John by suicide in 1978 and Michael in a 1979 car accident.


Science fiction and comic book writer Otto Binder (1911-1974) pens Captain Marvel for Fawcett then works for NASA and becomes fascinated with UFOs. He meets Ted “The PK Man” Owens (pictured), who claims to have inherited powers of clairvoyance and psychokinesis from a UFO encounter in 1965. Owens remains in regular contact with the higher intelligences from space. He meticulously records predictions and prophecies, has people sign affidavits verifying the date he made them, and a good number of them come to pass. Meeting Owens convinces Binder that the human race is already an alien hybrid and we all have slumbering powers that the other race is attempting to activate. This worldview will become standard fare for UFO cultists over the next three decades.

Charles Hapgood’s (1904-1982) catastrophist ideas of magnetic polar reversals, crustal displacement, and an unknown ancient seafaring civilization that mapped the world 12,000 years ago (1958 & 1966) challenge standard history and once again resurrect Atlantis/Mu existence debate–and produce a theatrical disaster in 2012. Albert Einstein writes the preface to Hapgood’s book; the works of Graham Hancock provide additional supporting evidence for the existence of this civilization.


1965-1970: Kerry Thornley (1938-1998) and Greg Hill (1941-2000) publish the Principia Discordia, a tract praising anarchism, free thought, and worship of Eris, the goddess of Chaos. Here we see the beginning of what will be known as chaos magick. What is taken to be a mock religion will evolve into paranoia as a way of life, inspiring the Reverend Ivan Stang to proclaim Slack in the tracts of the Church of the Subgenius. The Church’s founder J.R. “Bob” Dobbs becomes the ultimate salesman of spiritual snake oil—the kind you can grease your own mental cogs with and run your Yugo.


In 1965, scholar Robert Thurman (1941-) becomes first Westerner ordained into Gelugpa Buddhism by the Dalai Lama and eventually expounds it as writer and professor of Indo-Tibetan religion at Columbia University. His beloved and awesome daughter Uma will go on to be cheated on by a completely moronic second-tier actor who has no idea what he did.


After founding the CIA’s polygraph interrogations unit after World War Two, Cleve Backster (1924-2013) discovers in 1966 that plants respond to verbal abuse, violent thoughts, and even remote violent events against life forms. He calls this “Primary Perception” and that all life is in telepathic communication on different wavelengths or timespans (for example, the 2.4 mile wide honey fungus in Oregon, the largest living organism on earth, would communicate on a wider biofrequency than Methuselah, the oldest tree on earth). Although in line with many strains of panpsychism and religions such as Hinduism, the scientific community thoroughly shits on his experiments, finding them unduplicatable and poorly designed. Nevertheless, his conjectures leads to the book The Secret Life of Plants (1973) by Peter Tompkins and Christopher Bird, and a later documentary with a soundtrack by Stevie Wonder.


1960-1967, Harvard psychologist Timothy Leary (1920-1996) popularizes the Tibetan Book of the Dead along with the therapeutic use of psychedelic drugs, especially LSD. Journalist Robert Anton Wilson (1932-2007) boosts Leary’s ideas for the next two decades, especially those in which Leary describes the “eight circuits of psycho-physical existence” (which closely mirror G.I. Gurdjieff’s cosmology).

Ken Kesey's Bus

With Leary’s help, Ken Kesey, Neal Cassady, and dozens of other psychonauts participate in a series of “acid tests” at Kesey’s California property in 1964. Their house band is the Grateful Dead, known then as the Warlocks. They go on a cross-country trip spreading LSD and accompanied by “New Journalism” writer Tom Wolfe, a chronicler of subcultures, who publishes The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test in 1965.


1965, psychiatrist Helen Schucman (1909-1981) receives an inner voice dictating to her. With her colleague William Thetford they transcribe A Course in Miracles, first published in 1976.


Chogyam Trungpa (1939-1987)—practitioner of “crazy wisdom”, his own Zen-influenced offshoot of Tibetan Buddhism, writes the first popular books on his spirituality. A scamp in the manner of Bodhidharma, the sage who brought Buddhism to China, Trungpa drinks and womanizes himself to death.


****The musical Hair popularizes the dawn of the Age of Aquarius, the passing of the scepter from Pisces to the water-bearer. Beads mimic rosaries, drugs the communion host. H.D. Thoreau becomes the patron saint of the hippies. Tens of thousands of mostly young people reject technological society to start farming communes. Stewart Brand’s Whole Earth Catalog embodies the do-it-yourself ethos, from food to housing.

Psychiatrist Ian Stevenson (1918-2007) spends 40 years doing field research and collating evidence of reincarnation in children aged 3-8. He has strict criteria for doing a full investigation. Each child recollected names of previous family members, their occupations, major events that befell them, the layout of their houses, how they died–and in some cases, found objects hidden by the deceased that not even the previous families knew about. Many children had birthmarks or birth defects such as a deformed limb that corresponded to injury or the cause of death in the previous life. A majority of the cases investigated occurred in India–which is natural, considering the deep and ancient belief in karmic reincarnation there. His Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation (1966) is a classic study of the phenomena. He also founds the University of Virginia’s Division of Perceptual Studies, one of the only academy-based paranormal study centers on America.


Inspired by Robert Graves’s novel Watch the North Wind Rise (1949) and The Recovery of Culture by Henry Bailey Stevens, Frederick Adams (1928-2008, pictured, top) starts the visionary utopian community Feraferia (“wilderness festival” in Latin, an ancient forgotten tradition) through his writings and artwork. It is all devoted to reclaiming the Kore (maiden-goddess) as supreme presence inherent in all nature. Deeply ecological and anti-industrial age in nature, Feraferia attracts only a few hundred hardcore converts over its existence, who believe in reclaiming nature. Adams writes many tracts and rituals for his uniquely artistic spin on the Goddess.

CAWgreen egg

1961: college students Tim Zell and Lance Christie bond over the rabidly individualistic philosophy of Ayn Rand, then Abraham Maslow’s concepts of a “hierarchy of needs” and the goal of “self-actualization.” Rebelling against the conformist society they perceive around them, they begin to find like-minded young guys and establish Atl, a “brotherhood of the water.” Along with thousands of other alienated young people, they then read Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land and imagine a utopian community of highly intelligent rebels who will preserve freedom against a tyrannical technocracy. The Church of All Worlds, based on Heinlein’s protagonist’s organization, is born in 1968. Their publication the Green Egg becomes the first newsletter for alternative “Pagans,” a term appropriated from Kerry Thornley’s Erisian and Discordian movements to describe total rejection of technocracy. Encountering the burgeoning ecology scene, Zell embraces its cause as central to the CAW. They find fellow spirits in Fred Adams’s Feraferia collective and abandon the Atl group’s principles. The earth is a single living being that Zell calls Gaea, and views humans as an out of control virus whose job as stewards has been subverted. The concept parallels James Lovelock’s, and throughout the 1970s will gain currency.

Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (1926-2004) studies terminal illness’s effects on the psyche. Her 1969 book On Death and Dying outlines the five stages of grief. Over the next decade she investigates out of body experiences, near-death experiences, and channeling.

In 1969, Erich Von Daniken (1935-) publishes Chariots of the Gods? which claims to be the first “ancient astronaut” theory book—only if you discount classical Vedic literature, Sumerian mythology, the Book of Enoch, the book of Genesis, Dogon cosmology, Hopi cosmology, George Hunt Williamson’s The Secret Places of the Lion (1958), Pauwels and Bergier’s eponymous Morning of the Magicians (1959), and The Sky People (1959) by Brinsley le Poer Trench. Von Daniken is the patron saint of the ancient astronaut crowd, and over the next five decades his conjecture spawns hundreds of books denigrating the human genius of ancient peoples and results in an exasperatingly reductive History Channel show.

Anthropologist Carlos Castañeda (1925-1998) publishes The Teachings of Don Juan as his dissertation in 1968, popularizing shamanism. It is discovered he made up many parts of the narrative.


*****Hollywood in late 1960s and early 70s belches forth a slew of occult-themed big budget films following the success of Rosemary’s Baby (1968). The 1969 Manson Family murders induce a moral panic towards drugs and mind control and “Satanism.” The Exorcist is nominated for best picture at the Oscars in 1973. Friedkin’s film takes the existence of the demon Pazuzu and evil seriously, and occult menace films become even more popular. Unease over the sexual, mental, and spiritual freedoms unleashed by the hippie movement, feminism, student rebellions, finds outlet in ancient abstractions projected onto our screens.


1968, the Beatles go to Bangor, Wales to attend seminars with the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Transcendental Meditation, popularizing the TM movement. After witnessing the Yogi incessantly hitting on female devotees, John Lennon leaves in disgust and pens “Sexy Sadie”, whose original lyrics run: “Maharishi, you stupid cunt! You made a fool of everyone!”


At age 24, Colin Wilson (1931-2013) published The Outsider in 1956. It brings instant acclaim and success. He follows up this study of existential and social alienation with books in the same vein, then writes The Occult in 1970. A survey of the paranormal from Hermes Trismegistus to Aleister Crowley and Gurdjieff, Wilson searches for humanity’s engagement with what he calls Faculty X, the numinous state of connection with a greater reality.

Led Zeppelin’s guitarist Jimmy Page (1944-) shows his deep and continuing interest in the occult by purchasing Aleister Crowley’s Boleskine House on Loch Ness, Scotland in 1970 and opens an magick-themed bookstore, The Equinox, in London. Page’s band’s use of runes on the cover of their fourth untitled album and the themes of Celtic and Scandinavian mysticism in their lyrics inspire a generation of teens to seek out the meaning of the symbols–and thus acquaintance with Aleister Crowley and esoteric ideas. On the other hand, Black Sabbath’s 1969 debut album and subsequent career combine kitschy horror film gestures and existential dread in equal measures, a combo entirely lost upon teen stoners seeking to freak out peer and parents alike.

Unhappy childhoods of unremitting abuse are known to produce dissociative personalities. Dissociative personalities in turn are known to be prone to what Frederic Myers called “subliminal uprushes” in which alter personalities and even “spirits” can induce clairvoyance in them. American writer Dorothy Jane Roberts (1929-1984) had such an unfortunate childhood—with the concurrent superhuman abilities Myers sought in full force. After experiencing a trance state in which she underwent a bout of automatic writing, in 1963 she began using a Ouija board and found herself communicating the words of a spirit named Seth. The board was abandoned when Seth began to speak directly to her. The channel lasts from 1963 to the time of her death. With The Seth Material Roberts would become the most famous medium in the world and popularized the sentiment that “we create our own reality” which will become a New Age truism. Her books, along with A Course in Miracles, are the canonical texts of New Age thought.

Physicist Hal Puthoff (1936-) and Laser pioneer Russell Targ (1934-) meet psychic Ingo Swann (1933-2013, pictured, left), who demonstrates extraordinary ability to “remotely view” objects and people and even events in the past. Swann teaches them his technique. Targ and Puthoff, diehard scientists, test Swann and discover his abilities far exceed statistical randomness. In 1972 they obtain contracts with the Defense Department and CIA to develop a cadre of psychics at the Stanford Research Institute to remote view targets in Russia and China, which continues for 23 years.

1972: Uber-Conservative Gary Allen (1936-1986) publishes None Dare call it Conspiracy, the first indictment of “Eastern establishment” Ivy League technocrats as secret communist plotters bent on enslaving the world through the policies of the Council on Foreign Relation and the new Trilateral Commission. He fingers the Rockefeller family as the main drivers of the plot. No occult angle is apparent—yet. This will come later. And, of course, the Reptilians behind it.

1972: Arthur Koestler (1905-1983) publishes The Roots of Coincidence, which popularizes Jung/Pauli’s concept of synchronicity twenty years after the duo’s work was published.


1972: Funded by Laurence Rockefeller, channeler David Spangler (1945-) and writer William Irwin Thompson (1938-) start the Lindesfarne Association, a loose think-tank of sorts that attracts many intellectuals over the next 40 years. Dedicated to the creation of a world culture, the ideas of Swiss philosopher Jean Gebser (1905-1973) figure prominently in their discourse. Promoted is a neo-Hegelian metanarrative that posits our imminent transition into an “aperspectival” age in which consciousness includes all moments of history. The ideas of Gebser and Sri Aurobindo will both heavily influence the integral philosophy of thinker Ken Wilber in the 1980s and 1990s.


Inventor, polymath, and Lindisfarne associate fellows James Lovelock (1919-) and biologist Lynn Margulis (1938-2011) propose the Gaia hypothesis, reviving metaphorically the ancient idea of a world-soul by way of the biological symbiosis of all life and the homeostasis by which our 12,000 years of stable climate provides. Throughout the 1970s and 80s Lovelock and Margulis sponsor Gaia conferences focusing on ecological concerns, especially noting that a change in one part of this ecosystem eventually affects every other part; mankind’s overwhelming resource-taking actions on the planet are disastrous from this standpoint—a situation from which we may not even be able to extricate ourselves. He is one of the first to sound the alarm on human-caused global warming forcing by way of increased CO2, and predicts 80% of humanity will be extinct by 2100.


Arthur Janov (1924-) theorizes and publishes work maintaining that the repressed traumas of childhood and resultant anger (which traditional psychotherapy claim causes “complexes” and neuroses) cannot be fully and adequately addressed by the rational discourse of the therapeutic setting. Instead, he prescribes Primal Therapy—the expression of those buried, blocked energies through screaming. Due to a poverty of clinical evidence showing results, it is a short-lived but notorious footnote in the history of therapy.

1973: The American-made wheels start to come off. Watergate, the oil embargo, the Yom Kippur war, the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision, increasing airplane hijackings and terrorists attacks worldwide, all stress the population. In the fall, a UFO sighting wave of spectacular proportions occurs worldwide, with entity sightings and “abductions” occurring. The first canonical abduction tales involving extraction from a domicile, examination, and genetic procedures occur.


Trevor Ravenscroft (1921-1989) publishes The Spear of Destiny in 1973, which claims that the lance of Roman soldier Longinus that pierced the side of Jesus on the cross was sought and found by Adolf Hitler’s SS, offering the Third Reich supernatural evil power—like they needed it. At war’s end it was lost and passed into the hands of George S. Patton, who died in a car accident after the war (ostensibly also losing the cursed object). Indiana Jones was nowhere to be found—though George Lucas apparently paid Ravenscroft tribute by naming Jones’s mentor Abner Ravenwood in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.”


Physicist and parapsychologist Andrija Puharich (1918-1995) claims 23 year-old Israeli Uri Geller (1946-, pictured) possesses prodigious psychic abilities including, most notoriously, psychokinesis in which he bends metal objects (mostly spoons) by running his fingers across them and sometimes by merely staring at them. Puharich’s bio of Geller reveals the young man believes he is in contact with an extraterrestrial intelligence aboard an orbiting ship and they have granted him his powers. Further impossible feats such as teleportation, apportation, remote viewing supposedly follow as Geller is tested. Stage magician the Amazing Randi challenges then debunks Geller’s spoon bending and mind reading on The Tonight Show before a bewildered ex-magician Johnny Carson, knocking the Israeli down several notches. Many still believe in his powers however, it being the downer 1970s and all when meaning was sorely needed in the growing American spiritual vacuum.


In February and March of 1974, prolific science fiction author Philip Kindred Dick (1928-1982) has a series of mental breakdowns/revelations that lead him to pen an 8,000 page “Exegesis” about a higher intelligence that controls human consciousness—the VALIS—and produces the ideas of his later novels. Exegesis is finally published, in greatly abbreviated form, in 2011. This period of “high strangeness” 1973-1974 also afflicts author Robert Anton Wilson (more below), who experiments with psychedelics during this time and receives telepathic information about the star Sirius’s connection to ancient Egypt, extraterrestrials, and Israeli psychic Uri Geller’s abilities.

Robert Pirsig (1928-) publishes his philosophical novel Zen & Art of Motorcycle Maintenance in 1974, a worldwide bestseller. An “Inquiry into Values,” it contrasts a “Metaphysics of Quality” counterposed against the scientific, quantitative paradigm reigning in America (as cultural critic and Traditionalist Rene Guenon pointed out five decades previously). Pirsig come to believe a blending of rationality and moment-by-moment mindfulness can co-exist in the Western mind.

***1975: The youth culture’s intercourse with Eastern and ancient ideas over the past 15 years, whether flirtatious or serious, causes severe irritation in conservative American critics who do not seem to notice the soulless vacuum that the very American mainstream consumer culture they defend has become. Ironically, these searchers do not signify to them the very “freedom” they seem constitutionally allergic to actually exercising.


1975: Robert Anton Wilson (1932-2007, above) and Robert Shea (1933-1994) publish the satirical Illuminatus! Trilogy, a mélange of occultism, fringe science, multiple conspiracies, Discordianism, and anarchist politics. It is the first melding of political conspiracy with the occult ideas of Freemasonry as the driving force in this idiotic world (ideas long ago hinted at, in more beneficent form, by Blavatsky and Bailey’s “Himalayan Masters” and more recently by Pauwel and Bergier in The Morning of the Magicians). Wilson will go on to write many books on a wide variety of paranormal, scientific, and conspiratorial subjects, remaining an open-minded skeptic—a “zeteticist”—in the tradition of Charles Fort. Wilson’s books are very popular in the counterculture.


Paul Kurtz (1925-2012), agnostic/atheist philosopher founds the Committee for the Scientific Investigation for Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) in 1976. A few actual scientists (B.F. Skinner, Marcello Truzzi, Carl Sagan, and Ray Hyman) join. Seven years earlier, Kurtz founded Prometheus Books to promote secular humanism and fight what he perceives as anti-rationalism of the occult explosion.

His baby CSICOP makes exactly two scientific investigations—the first into astrology, which statistically fails to disprove the claim that a high number of extraordinary athletes are born while Mars was rising or transiting the sun. The scandalous findings are covered up, then when the cover up is exposed causes the resignation of a few genuine scientists in the org, including the expulsion of CSICOP member astronomer Dennis Rawlins for hammering Kurtz and the others and eventually writing an article about the affair. This teaches CSICOP that they shouldn’t actually attempt science, because they might get their asses handed to them. The second “experiment” is informally connected to CSICOP but involves replicating biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s experiments showing that dogs can sense when their owners are on their way home and wait in anticipation. Again, the attempted debunking fails due to shoddy sample size and ignoring the recorded evidence that, in fact, the dog reacted in just the way Sheldrake had predicted.

There are many “fellows” inducted into CSICOP membership who are in fact scientists but very rarely speak out on the paranormal matters. CSICOP changes its name to the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry in 2006, and continues to fail scientifically to disprove anything psi-related but still has millions of adherents whose pseudo-skeptical ideologies and Westboro Church-like commitment to debunking annoys equal millions.

Hebrew and Sumerian reader Zechariah Sitchin (1920-2010) publishes The 12th Planet in 1976, expanding and clarifying Von Daniken’s ancient astronaut theory by way of the Sumerian mythology of the Annunaki (the mysterious Nephilim in the Book of Genesis). According to Sitchin, the erratically inclined planet Nibiru, which enters our inner solar system every 36 centuries, collided with a planet between Mars and Jupiter and the debris created earth. During a close pass, the Annunaki race from Nibiru came to earth seeking minerals, enslaved homo erectus for mining purposes then genetically altered them into Homo sapiens. Sitchin published his spin on the Sumerian creation myth through 13 more books and influenced the belief system of former race car driver Claude Vorilhon’s Raelian “alien-masters” movement (catch the v-ril in his name?) whose symbol cheekily combines a swastika and the Star of David. Sitchin’s beliefs will influence a generation of both New Age star-seed and Satanic-influence-obsessed fundamentalist Christians, the latter seeing ancient Annunaki “demonic” imagery in every Super Bowl halftime show, Olympics opening, and Hollywood’s “subliminally subversive” movies.

Using a mélange of Alfred Korzybski’s linguistic theory, Noam Chomsky’s transformational grammar, and shamanistic trance-inducing techniques, Richard Bandler (1950-) and John Grinder (1940-) develop a cognitive form of therapy named Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) that claims to be able to model and transform a subject’s conception of self and the world to achieve more effectiveness in their life. Conspiriologists will eventually see in NLP the ultimate New World Order brainwashing tool, a ubiquitous technique that will, for instance, catapult Barack Obama to the White House, convince you to buy gold, or be the lurking monster behind rap and hip-hop’s popularity.

Eduard “Billy” Meier (1937-) restlessly travels the world, dogged by an alien presence that seems to be tutoring him. Flying saucers appear, disgorging Nordic-looking “Plejaren” from 80 light years beyond the Pleiades. Meier photographs, films, and records audio of these craft. Debunkers have a field day easily dissecting this “evidence.” Still he generates and continues to have a devoted following of acolytes, and still dispenses messages from the Plejaren today.

Also this year of 1975, Fritjof Capra (1939-) publishes The Tao of Physics, an exploration that equates some of the conclusions of particle physicists with both Eastern thought and ancient ideas of the soul. Niels Bohr, it is learned, was a Vedantist, and Werner Heisenberg a mystic. Pauli and Jung’s synchronicity and the double-slit particle-wave experiment are taken as examples that the concepts inside/outside, here/there are simply nominalist fictions. It is a bestseller, as is Gary Zukav’s The Dancing Wu Li Masters four years later, which explores the same basic science-mysticism equivalences. The concepts are associated together in the minds of millions of people to this day—thanks largely to Oprah Winfrey’s 1980s talk show, where Zukav was a regular guest.

Wayne Dyer (1940-2015) writes Your Erroneous Zones in 1975 and in 1976 becomes a bestseller. Its philosophy is seen as an antidote to the irrationally critical inner voices the Puritan ethos has instilled, for better or worse, in Americans, a message the so-called Me Generation (into which the hippies had morphed) accepts gleefully. Clearly in line with works such as Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People (1936) and Norman Peale’s The Power of Positive Thinking (1952).

Terrence McKenna (1946-2000) and brother Dennis (1950-) engage in psychonautical voyages using every kind of hallucinogen and in 1975 write The Invisible Landscape, which contains a theory of recursive, fractal space-time as a critique of Western ideas of measurement. Terence’s ideas of time spiraling to an ever-repeating singularity around the year 2012 almost single-handedly revives interest in the Mayan long count calendar’s end. In The Archaic Revival (1992) and Food of the Gods (1992) he becomes an eloquent and ubiquitous advocate of exploring the alternate realities presented by ayahuasca and pure DMT experimentation. He believes the ingestion of magic mushrooms by early man created new neural “circuitry” and led to the imaginative thinking processes. Ayahuasca tourism, in which Americans and Europeans travel to South America to undergo ritual ingestion of the brew, becomes a big business by the second decade of the 21st century. Beware the DMT machine elves—but more so shady “packaged shaman” snake oil tourism industry.

1975: Dr. Raymond Moody (1944-) publishes Life After Life, an enormously popular bestseller about his researches into the Near Death Experience. These experiences are as old as humanity (an early example being Plato’s account of the solider Er awakening on his funeral pyre to tell of the world of light beyond death). Over the coming decades, advances in trauma medicine will pull many thousands of people from the brink of death who otherwise would have died—1 in 3 of them telling stories of meeting light-beings, dead relatives, angels, Jesus, and even extraterrestrials in their NDEs.


The notion that “star seeds,” or half-extraterrestrial people, exist to help humanity due to their voluntary birth on earth or as “walk-in” souls can be traced to Brad Steiger’s 1976 book Gods of Aquarius, but the idea has much deeper roots, going back through Madame Blavatsky’s Hidden Mahatmas on through the wisdom imparted by Allan Kardec’s spirits in The Spirits Book (1857) and, of course, is an ancient Hindu belief. The only difference here is the alien or “cosmic citizen” aspect, in distinction to the nature-spirit (deva or devi) or “old soul” who has made the rounds many times reincarnating in human form.

1976: Helen Schucman and William Thetford’s A Course in Miracles is published. A “channeled” work, it becomes an instant classic and perhaps, along with The Seth Material, the reigning text of the contemporary “New Age movement,” with its gently corrective theology involving the importance of forgiveness and grace. Within a decade there will be hundreds of study groups and seminars on the book. Writer Marianne Williamson will become the book’s main popular proponent, discussing its spirituality many times on The Oprah Winfrey Show.


1976: Robert Temple (1945-) publishes The Sirius Mystery. It tells of the Dogon nation of Mali, who claim extraterrestrials from the star Sirius birthed them thousands of years ago. Their ancient dances, artwork, and tales are all found to contain knowledge about Sirius and other heavenly bodies that is only discovered in the 20th century—such as the fact that Sirius has an “invisible companion”, which turned out to be the dwarf star Sirius B which orbits the main star. These facts, which any reasonable person would conclude go well beyond coincidence, are the best genuine evidence for an “ancient astronauts” theory.

Mycologist Gordon Wasson (who popularized the term “magic mushroom” in a 1957 LIFE magazine article), Albert Hofman (1906-2008, the discoverer of LSD), and classical scholar Carl Ruck (1935-) research the ancient and perplexing Eleusinian mysteries of Greece. Although the meaning of the pilgrimage has always been clear–the celebration of Persephone’s return from Hades to visit her mother Demeter and inaugurate spring—no records of the spiritual experiences undergone in the ritual’s Telestrion temple exist, except the itinerary and the recipes of the brew which the pilgrims drank prior to entry. Studying the local flora, the trio reach the conclusion that a form of ergot, a barley fungus rich in a variant of LSD, was deliberately used by the hierophants who presided over the ceremonies for two thousand years in Eleusis. The participants thus experienced an intense entheogenic trip in the pillared, cave-like Telestrion hall, probably augmented by a theatrical display by the hierophants. In short, a formalized shamanic initiation for the Greek masses. Their Road to Eleusis: Unveiling the Secret of the Mysteries ignites controversy when published in 1978.

NPR shoot 1/18/06  NYC

1979: Wiccan priestess and NPR host Margot Adler (1946-2014) publishes Drawing Down the Moon, a survey of Neopaganism and Wiccans in America. It is the first contemporary book to offer an even and sympathetic look at revived ancient and “alternative” religions in a country where evangelical Christian fervor is once again heating up (see Hal Lindsay below). Adler, a long-time friend of writer Whitley Strieber, also incidentally happens to be present at the author’s upstate New York cabin on a night his “visitors” make an appearance in 1987.

The evangelical Christian surge of the 1970s brings along with it interest in angels & faith healing & apocalyptic end times scenarios via Late Great Planet Earth by Hal Lindsey (1929-). This will confluence with other eschatologies, such as the Mayan, Theosophist, Hopi, Buddhist-Shambhalan, and other belief systems that peg the last decades of 20th/early decades of the 21st century as the dawn of a New Age, social and religious upheavals, and rise of an Antichrist.


The 4th century Nag Hammadi Gnostic texts, discovered in 1945, are first published in English in 1979, spurring prodigious scholarship and inspiring interest in the medieval Cathar and Bogomil religions, whose spiritual views are very similar to one another—and considered heretical to all mainstream brands of Christianity. This find will have incalculable effects on both religious and secular culture. Until this discovery, the Gnostics were only known through the Early Christian apologists, who relentlessly attacked their heresies and doctrinal mistakes. Gnosticism was never a monolithic belief system; in fact was just the opposite. Simon Magus was perhaps the most famous Gnostic and known in the New Testament apocrypha as St. Peter’s adversary in a theurgical battle in which Paul kicked his ass, earning “simony” a coinage that means the buying of pardons from sin, which the Magus was dispensing by means of his magic. But the many Gnostic sects’ deep origins go back to strands found in Zoroastrianism, Plato, and the religion of the Egyptians. Foremost amongst their beliefs is that the universe is a botched creation of a hubristic lesser architect-deity (most times, Jehovah). The misguided Aeon Sophia, however, caused “sparks” of the true universe (the Pleroma, “splendorous fullness”) to become entombed in matter. This remnant of true creation resides in every human, and Jesus Christ was an emanation of the Pleroma sent to present the elements of ascent back to the true God. This repressed philosophical spirituality presented a powerful alternative and antidote to mainstream Christianity (women were always equals in the Gnostic clerisies, and knowledge “gnosis” and living a strict moral life valued over faith and hierarchical fripperies). Thousands of books have now been written about the Gnostic schools, Gnostic churches established, and its ideas still live in works such as Philip K. Dick’s later writings and “The Matrix” trilogy.


In 1979, ufologist Jacques Vallee publishes Messengers of Deception, a study of UFO contactees and cults. Among them are an ascetic organization called Human Individual Metamorphosis (HIM) which is led by a man and woman known variously as Bo and Peep, Do and Ti, or the Two (pictured, right). Vallee is alarmed at the credulity of its followers, failed prophecies of UFO landings with no loss of face, and the apocalyptic tone of its messages, which include an extraterrestrial Rapture. With journalist John Keel’s warnings against “saucer cults” four years earlier in his Operation Trojan Horse (1975), Vallee is deeply concerned over the mind control aspects of the entire UFO phenomena. His worst imaginings are exceeded. The cult changes its name to Heaven’s Gate and its core 39 members commit suicide on March 26, 1997, after hearing a rumor via radio host Art Bell that a “spaceship” of some kind may be following the Hale-Bopp comet. They believed it was their mothership coming to take them home.


1980: Michael Harner (1929-) publishes The Way of the Shaman, reinvigorating interest in archaic journeying to contemporary people. Through his workshops, thousands learn techniques of trance through drumming and experience non-human intelligences that act as spirit guides.

1981: plasma physicist David Bohm (1917-1992) publishes Wholeness and the Implicate Order, an inquiry into the existence of a field he calls the “holomovement” which would account for quantum particle entanglement. When combined with Karl Pribram’s conception that phenomenal reality consisting of waveforms that some part of our brains “decode” using Fourier transforms, the concept that the universe may be a hologram, emanating from “another dimension,” become viable.

Cambridge biology professor Rupert Sheldrake (1942-) ignites controversy with his books A New Science of Life (1981) and The Presence of the Past (1988), postulating that natural laws are constant due to what he calls a “morphic field”, a “scientized” version of the Akashic record. All laws of biological life and behavior are the result of repeated imprintings/repetitions of form within this field (which he calls “morphic resonance”). He spends the next 35 years defending and honing his theory against accusations of pseudoscience due to the theory’s unfalsifiability. Yet he gamely develops experiments to test the theory.


1981: Painter and alien abduction investigator Budd Hopkins (1929-2011) publishes Missing Time. This will be followed six years later with Intruders. UFO history scholar David Jacobs chimes in with Secret Life and begins hypnotic-regressing “abductees,” like Hopkins, without training nor a license and revealing dozens of near-identical, tediously repetitive stories involving light beams, levitation, induced pregnancies, alien-hybrid births, sexual abuse, weird psychodramas, and Men In Black visitations. Dozens then hundreds of therapists worldwide begin investigating missing time episodes, strange, realistic dreams, and UFO experiences in their patients using hypnotic regression and coming up with the same basic stories.


On May 14, 1982, Theosophist and George Adamski UFO cultist Benjamin Creme (1922-) holds a press conference announcing to the world that Maitreya, the world redeemer who will simultaneously fulfill the roles of Imam Mahdi, the Jewish Messiah, and the Kalki Avatar of Hinduism, is alive and well and living in a London flat after having descended from his Himalayan retreat. Creme knows this because he has been in telepathic contact with the Himalayan Masters Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey first expounded on. The Second Coming will occur on June 21st of that year. In the time-honored tradition of spiritual prophecy tricksterism, as ufologist John Keel always successfully predicted, nothing happens. Crème makes the same prediction several more times. Creme founded Share International Foundation as a non-profit to spread the message via Transmission Meditation and a monthly magazine.

Parapsychologist and psychic Nancy Ann Tappe claims throughout the 1970s to be able to read the colors of peoples’ auras—furthermore, that she has since the late 1960s observed special children with an indigo birth-aura. Tappe publishes the book Understanding Your Life Through Color in 1982 describing the concept. The idea is later popularized by the 1998 book The Indigo Children: The New Kids Have Arrived, written by husband and wife lecturers Lee Carroll and Jan Tober. Countless conferences and mythologizing of these kids begins. Several films have also been produced on the subject, including two English feature films by New Age writer James Twyman in 2003 and 2005. ***The almost epidemic emergence of 1) ADHD 2) “restless child syndrome” and 3) autism spectrum disorders concurrent with the appearance of this metaphysical aura-color theory (1995-present) allows many parents to find a positive meaning in their children’s “disease”—accompanied by the fact that the world expert on ADHD, Dr. Leon Eisenberg, admitted in a Der Spiegel interview in 2009 that the diagnosis is so overapplied as to be meaningless, the American Psychological Association’s classification systems have alarmingly broadened in the past decades to pathologize what once passed for normal child behavior. No-one scientifically ventures to seriously investigate the possibility that the tsunami of new electromagnetic fields (cell phones, PCs), genetically-altered, nutrition-free food, and toxic chemicals parallel these “epidemics’” emergence.

Actress Shirley Maclaine (1934-) publishes Out on a Limb in 1983, freely discussing her experiences with reincarnation and metaphysics. She is roundly made the butt of jokes to the present day for her claims and candor.


By July 1984, a full-blown “Satanic panic” sets in in California, especially against the workers at the McMartin Preschool in Manhattan Beach, Los Angeles, where 360 children are suspected of being sexually abused. No physical evidence of any kind is apparent—but the authorities believe the children’s tales of witchcraft, ritual sex abuse and even human sacrifices. People blame the deteriorating morals of a society that has become far more sexually permissive since the 1950s. Experts come forward by the dozen testifying to the power of hypnosis to unlock memories—only to be countered by the “False Memory Syndrome” advocates, who seek to prove memories can be confabulated with or without hypnosis by the very act of interrogation. Over the 1980s and into the early 1990s many hundreds of people go to jail for child abuse on no more than hearsay and rumor, having their lives forever ruined. The trials against Peggy McMartin Buckey and her grandson Raymond Buckey (pictured) last seven years, end in complete acquittals, and cost taxpayers $15 million–the most expensive legal case in US history. Only in California!


1984: Right-leaning radio host Art Bell (1945-) sickens of politics and decides to begin a free-form show where people can call in with ghost stories, UFO sightings, and general spookery. It becomes a success and within a decade goes nationwide as Coast to Coast AM, the most popular overnight radio show in America. Bell hosts exorcists, UFO abductees, Bigfoot researchers, conspiracy theorists, ghost hunters, fringe scientists, etc., giving a platform for channelers and mediums.

*****By the early 1980s the American people have been enervated by the various social malaises of the 1970s. Faith in institutions has steadily eroded—religion, political engagement, civic organizations, bureaucratic ennui. The Baby Boomers who once protested the foundations of the West have mostly joined the mainstream—professionally at least—but still harbor unsettled spiritual compasses. They remain seekers. Psychic fairs, group retreats, human potential movements like est and Scientology promise self-improvement with a decidedly secular bent. But the deeply instilled consumerist mentality is still at work, insisting that the true nirvana perhaps exists in the next system, the next movement, the next group consciousness raising.
Feminism has thoroughly altered the thinking and behavior of both sexes–and invigorated a goddess movement to challenge the patriarchal culture that has prevailed for at least 6,000 years. The traditionally marginalized and feared practice of witchcraft surges in popularity, thanks in part to Gerald Gardner’s Wicca movement. Alongside this are revived interest in Celtic and Scandinavian mythologies as alternate possibilities for religious revelation.
Fired by the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, the gay liberation movement, and radical feminism, conservative Christians rally around these social issues and become politically active, aligning themselves with Nixon’s Republican Silent Majority. This fundamentalist stance of course includes opposition to anything not Christian–such as esoteric metaphysical philosophies, from alchemy to Sufism, ouija boards to tarot divination. The New Age comes under steady attack.


1987-Novelist Whitley Strieber (1945-) publishes Communion, his personal account of interactions with paranormal beings he calls “Visitors.” He never once claims they are extraterrestrials. It hits number one on the New York Times bestseller list. Published just before Budd Hopkins’s Intruders, which also charts on the Times’s bestsellers, Communion and the former inaugurate a new era in what the public believes UFO activity encompasses: multiple abductions, genetic medical procedures, holographic representations of global cataclysm, telepathic communication. Strieber writes three further books detailing his continuing strange encounters and struggles with memory-bubbles of his troubled childhood.

Harmonic Convergence

After helping organize the first Earth Day in 1970, art professor Jose Arguelles (1939-2011) goes on to teach Teilhard de Chardin’s noosphere theories and that humanity is approaching an ascension from its linear 3-D existence. To this end he organizes the world Harmonic Convergence on August 16-17, 1987, a mass meditation event that involved several hundred thousand persons. The event was timed to coincide with the end of the Mayan “hell cycle” which began with Cortes’s landfall in 1519. A grand trine of eight planets synchronized on this date, forming an equilateral triangle when seen from earth. This particular grand trine (it is quite common as an astronomical event) also began the 25-year countdown to the end of the Mayan long count calendar, fueling speculation that some supernatural event would occur on December 21, 2012.

1987: Joel Whitton pens Life Between Life, an exploration of the reincarnation process using hypnosis in which “life reviews” by a “council” are prevalent in the accounts. These experiences fit neatly into the channeled visions of alien contactees and abductees, who also have come into contact with “Nordic”-appearing elder beings for the past thirty years (especially George Adamski).

“Saucer nests” have been reported in conjunction with UAP sightings since the beginning of the postwar phenomenon. Most people think they are possible evidence of extraterrestrial vehicles but swirled circles in grass and grain fields have been reported for centuries; they were thought to be the product of whirlwinds or witchcraft or fairies (the latter because swaying and darting lights were often reported in the fields where they later appeared, as far back as the fifteenth century). In the late 1980s the circles began to show up in profusion in England near ancient megaliths like Stonehenge. By the early 1990s they were almost epidemic on the island—and two men came forward claiming they had created the circles at night using no more than string, a pole, and boards attached to their boots. Many others undoubtedly formed circle-making clubs to hoax the public. But cereologists (crop circle experts) claim to tell the difference between the hoaxed and the genuine: footprints, signs of broken stalks, etc. figure in the former and uniform flattening with no breakage and even cellular alteration in the latter. The increase of absurdly complex and huge crop patterns that APPEAR OVERNIGHT in the late 90s-present would seem to counter the “all hoaxes” answer. Many New Agers see them as messages from ET or the earth trying to communicate through sigils, a coded language to a coming “earth ascension.” Witnesses on the sites claim to experience trances and altered states of consciousness. Conventional explanations range from total hoaxing to geomagnetic disturbances to secret satellite technology to as-yet unknown atmospheric phenomenon.

Psychology professor and “near-death experience/out-of-body” researcher Kenneth Ring (1936-) reads Strieber’s Communion and discerns parallels between the “afterlife” of Near Death Experiences and “alien abductions.” He conducts surveys of both groups, discovering overlap in both personality-type and experiences: He publishes The Omega Project in 1991, suggesting that these interactions are neither fully physical nor mental but occur as liminal states of the “mind-at-Large,” a concept very similar to the Sufi imaginal realm, Rupert Sheldrake’s morphic field, Sri Aurobindo’s Supermind, and Chardin’s noosphere.

Journalist Graham Hancock (1950-) publishes The Sign and the Seal (1992) and Fingerprints of the Gods (1995). The latter work draws on Charles Hapgood’s theory of crustal displacement, the mysterious 1513 Piri Reis map that shows the landmass beneath subglacial Antarctica, von Dechend and Santillana’s Hamlet’s Mill, and the work of dissident geologist Robert Schoch and archaeologist John Anthony West. It provides much evidence for the compelling conjecture that an advanced marine civilization existed prior to the last ice age and survived until about 11,000 BCE.


Dr. Rick Strassman (1952-) is granted government license to inject prescreened subjects with pure DMT, one of the most potent entheogenic substances known. It causes relatively short (20-30 minute) but intensely involving trips in which the volunteers’ consciousness enters a different but coherent “reality” that turns out to have consistent elements, some of which are comparable to Near Death Experiences and alien abductions. In 1990 he publishes DMT: The Spirit Molecule, which ignites interest in the medically therapeutic use of so-called psychedelic drugs, a trend that continues to the present. Thousands of psychonauts take DMT both in pure doses and in its augmented form, the Amazonian brew ayahuasca, which produces 4-9 hour trips. Many of them are countercultural authors who write books on the archaic revival (as Terence McKenna calls it), the rediscovery of “shamanic otherworlds” by citizens of the “industrialized West.”


******We’ve now seen the sedimentation of many strands of hitherto marginal movements achieve a symbiotic relationship with one another. Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey’s Theosophical philosophy of the cosmic-guide Great Hidden Mahatmas of has continued in the channelings of many mediums. Hundreds of books are annually published of trance-formed teachings that speak of reincarnation and vanished civilizations like Atlantis, Mu, and Lemuria. Their messages exhort the evolutive potentialities for the whole of humanity, ideas gleaned from sources as diverse as Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre to Sri Aurobindo to Teilhard de Chardin. Almost all mediums speak of a coming Golden Age for humanity. Although the extraterrestrial angle of the psychic communicants has morphed into purely angelic forces, it has not gone away. Hundreds of thousands of people are meditating and adopting rituals of Buddhism and Vedanta. Retreats have sprung up and been successful, inspired by the Esalen Institute and communal movements.

1991: With the publications of Truth Vibrations, Former TV presenter David Icke (1952-) begins a 25-year reign of terror upon common sense and the “Reptilian-Rothschild-Zionist banker” New World Order with his lectures and books, an unholy mélange of “The Matrix’s” ideas, paleo-anti-Semitism, anti-Freemasonry, particle physics, Russian hollow-moon theory, ancient astronaut theory–a bit of something for everyone. Icke brings together many strands of New Age thought in a barely-palatable narrative to explain a screwed-up world and maintains a following of millions.


1995: knowledge of the Pentagon’s terminated Stargate program of remote viewers is declassified, to public ridicule. Begun in the early 1970s at the Stanford Research Institute, it at first gained NASA funding then $$ from the CIA and DIA. After disclosure was made, over the next fifteen years almost all the members of the project begin teaching the psychic technique and giving accounts of some of the amazing feats their cadre succeeding in carrying out over the program’s 23 years (many operations and their targets are still classified). Joseph McMoneagle (pictured), Ingo Swann, and Major Ed Dames become celebrities in the psychic world. There are currently close to half a million web pages dedicated to teaching this technique.


March 26, 1997, 39 members of the extraterrestrial cult Heaven’s Gate are found dead of phenobarbital poisoning and asphyxiation in their compound. Having been in existence 25 years, its leaders Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles used full-spectrum cult techniques honed over the decades to convince coverts that they would be taken “home”–home appearing in the form of a spaceship that Applewhite believed was tailing the Hale-Bopp comet, which appeared visibly by February and reached its brightest March 22, four days before the suicides. Ufologist Jacques Vallee warned of this cult’s activities as early as 1978 in his book Messengers of Deception. Many believe Applewhite got the “trailing UFO” idea from radio host Art Bell, who discussed it on the air with amateur astronomer Chuck Shramek on Bell’s popular overnight show Coast to Coast AM.


According to Terence McKenna, the coming end of the Mayan long-count calendar corresponds to an increasing novelty in experience and consciousness in the “noosphere” (as Teilhard de Chardin styled it) and that it will culminate in a singularity beyond which the world will suddenly become unrecognizable or utterly unpredictable. He can be credited in kick-starting 2012 mania, which will take many forms in various New Age communities. The Mayans’s ancient calendar simply ends on December 21, 2012 (or 2011 in some interpretations); there is no implied destruction of the earth or civilizations (although some would argue for the latter as having come true). Nevertheless, people stock their bomb shelters and say their prayers.

Ken Wilber (1949-) publishes his Kosmos Trilogy (1995-2000) a synthesis of evolutive thought similar to Sri Aurobindo’s but more akin to philosopher Georg Hegel’s or Jean Gebser’s, trying to give an account of everything. The philosophical metanarratives for thinking, history, and spirituality wheeze along.


1986-2011: Oprah Winfrey (1954-) gives free rein on her talk show to Deepak Chopra (1947-) on holistic health, Gary Zukav on the quantum physics/consciousness connection, Marianne Williamson (1952-, pictured) on A Course in Miracles, Eckhart Tolle (1948-) on living in the present, and provides a platform for dozens of other spiritual gurus who preach various versions of the preceding thirteen decades’ belief systems. She single-handedly brings New Age thought into mainstream American culture via her show.



Einstein on the Beach: Train 1


Knee Play 1 & Train 1 at 7:13

The child Einstein contemplates in his hand a representation of both the Minkowski block universe/Planck’s ultraviolet catastrophe that inspired his solution to Planck’s problem while standing on an atomic bomb gantry…

……a train, the object of one his famous thought experiments, creeps as slowly as the light beam which descends before it….

A moving tableau: a living shadow box.
Traditional theater elements separated from each other, then mixed.

Time moves only by way of the events on stage and their relationships.
The actions of the separate elements—actors, dancer, train, fog, light, screen—are events measuring spacetime relative to each other, requiring the viewer’s effort to induce meaning. Einstein is framed then unframed.

The diagonal is thematic, and simultaneity is a rehearsed accident.

Daemons (work in progress)


The demon Ashmedai in a Hebrew incantation bowl

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The Kelly-Hopkinsville entities of the 1955 encounter.

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Dr. Naama Viloszni’s collection of Hebrew incantation bowl illustrations during the Babylonian captivity.


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The otherworldly beings of the Day family abduction, Aveley, England, 1974.


Aleister Crowley’s LAM, encountered 1918 during the Amalantrah Working, NYC.


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I believe (on no present evidence whatsoever) that Ted Jacobs was either asked by Strieber or independently based his iconic Communion cover on Crowley’s LAM entity. Strieber notes in the book that Jacob’s painting is a far more anthropomorphic vision of the being he repeatedly encountered. Note the “erased” areas above LAM’s “eyelids”. They have the characteristic teardrop or almond shape persons have described “grays” possessing…The left area also contains what appears as an erased or shaded patch that perhaps was once, or is meant to “subliminally” suggest, a staring eye. Thus compare Crowley’s LAM drawing with this drawing by Betty Andreasson of the “angel” Quazgaa in 1978:

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Above: Set of Enochian characters scryed by Edward Kelley and elaborated by Dr. John Dee, 1582.


“Alien” language channeled by Dr. Mario Pazzaglini.


The “universal language of space,” channeled (with phonemic elaborations) from “an alien intelligence” by psychoanalyst W. John Weilgart in the 1960s, meant for expression of specific concepts without ambiguity. An article on Weilgart: