UFOs: The Psychic Dimension
David PrattOct 2002, Oct 2013
Part 3 of 4
6. Close encounters
7. The visitors
8. Alien abductions - 1
6. Close encounters
Allen Hynek, the ‘father of ufology’, distinguished three types of close encounters:
- close encounters of the first kind: objects seen on the ground or at a short distance from the observer;
- close encounters of the second kind: the same, with physical effects on the environment, instruments or observers;
- close encounters of the third kind: sightings of alien entities, either by themselves or in association with a UFO.
Alien abductions, in which humans are allegedly kidnapped and subjected to intrusive medical examinations inside a UFO, are now sometimes classed as ‘close encounters of the fourth kind’.
Studies show that the probability of a UFO close encounter peaks between 1 and 3 am, and that they are most likely to occur in remote and sparsely populated areas.1 Some examples of close encounters (mainly CE3s) are given below. They tend to contain elements of ‘high strangeness’, and show that credible people sometimes report incredible things.
The first example comes from 1922, long before the modern UFO age began. A man in Nebraska saw a large circular object land near his home and an 8-ft-tall being step out. The man was deeply religious and thought the being must be Satan. He mumbled, ‘Get thee behind me, Satan,’ and turned his back on it. Then he noticed another disc coming down from the sky; it hovered above him as if to protect him from the landed creature. Next the witness heard voices emanating from the airborne saucer, quoting Biblical texts, causing the other creature to take to its heels. It left tracks similar to hoofmarks, and went through a barbed wire fence, which was left burning hot and severed, as if it had been burned through with a welding torch.
There was a similar report from Nebraska in the same year. On 22 February 1922 a man was out hunting when he saw a large, dark object fly overhead, blotting out the stars. He hid behind a tree and watched it land. Next he saw ‘a magnificent flying creature’ which landed like an airplane and left tracks in the snow. It was at least 8 ft tall. The man tried to follow its tracks but never caught up with it.2
A central question posed by cases like this is: To what extent did the events described take place in our physical reality? The best way to determine their physical reality would be to attempt to record the events with cameras, videos, tape recorders, etc. In practice, witnesses rarely have the means to do this while the experience is taking place. It is noteworthy that although quite a few photographs of UFOs have been taken, usually from some distance, there are only a handful of photos of UFO entities, and many of these can be dismissed as hoaxes.3 Sometimes researchers find that expensive cameras and electronic instruments malfunction at the critical moment or that developed film comes out blank – a phenomenon well known to investigators of other weird manifestations, such as monsters, ghosts and poltergeists.
Further clues to the reality status of close encounters can be obtained by comparing the testimony of different witnesses. Multiple-witness close encounters are unfortunately rather rare, but where they have happened, reports by different witnesses are sometimes mutually corroborative and sometimes mutually contradictory, at least in part. In the above cases we have only the testimony of a single witness, plus the footprints, and a broken wire fence that appeared to have been subjected to intense heat. Something seems to have manifested physically, but the voices, for example, could have existed solely in the man’s head, and clearly reflected his own religious beliefs.
If the crafts and beings in these cases were physical manifestations, where did they come from? From another part of our physical universe, or from some nonphysical realm? If the beings originated in our physical reality, and are not robots or other artificially created entities, they must be the product of a long process of evolution, just like animals and humans on earth, and the craft must be technological constructs. But if they originated in another realm, this need not be the case. Instead they could be temporary materializations of shape-shifting elemental and psychic energies from the astral plane.
A parallel can be drawn with the Tibetan concept of ‘tulpas’ – thought-forms that are said to assume life independent of the mind or minds that create and sustain them. A tulpa may take on a solid form, and yogis claim they can even carry on intelligent conversations with these mind-created creatures. The duration of a tulpa’s life and its vitality are in direct proportion to the energy expended in its creation.4 In UFO close encounters, of course, the manifestations are not the deliberate creation of the witnesses themselves.
In the case of close encounters that leave no physical evidence and to which there are no independent witnesses, it is possible that the entire experience was ‘hallucinatory’. This in turn raises the question: To what extent was the experience generated by the witness’s own mind and to what extent by other entities or forces?
The cases presented below raise similar questions. And the limited evidence available leaves plenty of room for speculation.
On 18 October 1954, in Royan, France, a couple saw two ball-shaped objects in the sky, one orange and the other red, joined by a bright beam of light. When the light went out, they landed. A small creature got out of each craft and went into the other. Both objects then flew away with a tremendous flash.5
At 6:30 am on 6 November 1957, 12-year-old Everett Clark of Dante, Tennessee, opened the door to let out his dog, Frisky, and saw a peculiar oblong object in a field about 100 yards from the house. He thought he was dreaming and went back inside. When he called the dog 20 minutes later, the object was still there, and Frisky was standing near it, along with several dogs from the neighbourhood. Also near the object were two men and two women in ordinary clothing. One of the men made several attempts to catch Frisky, and later another dog, but had to give up for fear of being bitten. The strange people talked like German soldiers the boy had seen in movies. He watched them walk right into the wall of the object, which then took off straight up without a sound.
Another attempt to steal a dog was made at dusk the same day, this time in Everittstown, New Jersey. By some weird coincidence, the name of this town resembles the boy’s name in the above case. A man named John Trasco went outside to feed his dog and saw a brilliant egg-shaped object hovering in front of his barn. In his path he met a 3-ft-tall being ‘with putty-coloured face and large frog-like eyes’, who said in broken English: ‘We are peaceful people, we only want your dog’ (this sort of absurd dialogue is typical of close encounters). The strange being was told in no uncertain terms to go back where he belonged. He ran away and his machine was seen to take off straight up moments later. The being wore a green suit with shining buttons, a green cap, and gloves.6
In the evening of 26 June 1962, in Verona, Italy, a woman and her son and daughter observed a silvery disc, the apparent diameter of the moon, manoeuvring in the sky for about an hour. They finally went home. Around 3 am one of them was awakened by a feeling of intense cold and perceived a greenish light in the room. In the window a sharply defined human shape, delineating a semi-transparent body, was visible. The apparition had a huge bald head. The witness screamed, awakening the two others, and they saw the apparition shrink and vanish ‘like a TV image when one turns off the set’.7
One morning in October 1963, on Whidbey Island, Washington, a middle-aged woman who had seen a strange craft near her house the previous July observed a gray object, 3.5 m long, hovering less than 2 m above the ground. Through the transparent front part she could see three figures. Suddenly one of the occupants was standing on the grass. He was clothed in ‘asbestos-textured coveralls’, and neither the face nor the hands or feet were visible. When she asked, ‘What do you want?’ the answer, in English, was: ‘One of our party knows you; we will return.’ The object then decreased in size, tilted, partially sank into the ground, grew to its previous size, and departed to the east, producing steam, a flash and a noise.8
In the early morning of 1 July 1965, a French farmer, Maurice Masse, was in his lavender field near Valensole, when he heard a whistling sound and discovered that an object had landed. At first he thought it was a helicopter or an experimental craft, but when he approached he found that it was egg-shaped, the size of a car, with a round cockpit on top, and four legs. He then saw two small beings examining his lavender plants. They were less than 4 ft tall, with large slanted eyes and very large bald heads, dressed in one-piece gray-green suits. One of them took a small tube from its container and pointed it at Masse, who found himself unable to move. The two beings communicated with each other by making gargling noises, without moving their mouths. They exuded a sense of peace. They got back into the craft via a sliding door, the legs whirled and retracted, and it took off. First it hovered a few feet from the ground, then it rose obliquely with the take-off speed of a jet plane. When it was about 60 yards away, it seemed to vanish.
It was about 20 minutes before the farmer regained control of his muscles. The ground where the craft had rested was soaked with moisture, and hardened to the consistency of concrete. Geometrically spaced indentations were also found. Elevated calcium levels were found in the soil, and no lavender plants would grow at the landing site until 10 years later. For several weeks after the incident, Masse was overcome with drowsiness. The police authorities regarded him as absolutely trustworthy. He subsequently saw another object, which he described as ‘beautiful, with many pretty colours whirling around it’.9
At 9:05 am on 19 January 1967, a man called Ted Jones was driving along a highway in West Virginia when he found his way blocked by a large object hovering a few feet off the ground. It was a large metal sphere, 20 ft in diameter, the colour of dull aluminium. It had four legs with casterlike wheels, a small window, and a sort of propeller on the underside. The propeller started spinning faster, and the object ascended into the sky. A few days later an article on UFOs by John Keel was published, illustrated with drawings of odd-shaped objects, many thought up by the artist, who had produced his layout many weeks earlier. His drawings included an exact replica (or prototype?) of the sphere Jones had seen, complete with wheeled legs and propeller. Such an object has never been described before or since in UFO literature.10
At 9:30 pm on 2 November 1967, two Navajo Indian youths, Guy Tossie and Will Begay, were driving on a highway just outside Ririe, Idaho, when there was a sudden blinding flash in front of their car.
The flash was followed by the abrupt appearance of an eight-foot-wide domed saucer with flashing green and orange lights around its rim. The car stopped as the object hovered about five feet above the road, bathing the area in a green light.
Through the transparent dome, the witnesses could see two small occupants. When the dome opened, one figure floated down to the ground. It stood about three and a half feet tall and had a kind of backpack that protruded behind its hairless head. Its oval face was heavily pitted and creased, its ears were large and high, its eyes were small and round, and its mouth was slit-like. No nose was visible on the deeply scarred face.
The entity approached the car and opened the driver’s-side door. When it slid behind the wheel, the two youths moved over to the right. Then, with the object in a fixed position a few feet in front, the car was driven or towed well out into a wheat field. When the car stopped, Tossie opened the door and ran to a farm-house a quarter mile away. A bright light, apparently from the second occupant, followed him. Begay, meanwhile, cowered in the front seat as the entity spoke to him in unintelligible birdlike sounds. When the second entity returned to the car, the first emerged and the two then floated up into the object, which rose out of sight in zigzag fashion.
Tossie was so frightened that he had difficulty telling the farmer and his family the story. When they finally accompanied him back to the field, they found Begay in shock, sitting speechless in the car with his eyes closed. The car lights were on, and the engine was running. The youths reported the incident to the deputy sheriff, and the state police investigated. Others had apparently seen lights in the area, and some farmers reported that their cattle had bolted during the evening for unknown reasons.11
Fig. 6.1. Alien encountered by Guy Tossie and Will Begay, November 1967 (courtesy of Harry Trumbore).12
In the early morning of 1 November 1968, a French doctor was awakened by the sound of his 14-month-old son crying. His son was standing in his crib pointing at the window: behind the shutter a bright light was moving. After the child had gone back to sleep, the doctor went out onto the balcony. He saw two glowing discs in the sky, silvery-white on top and bright red underneath. Each had a tall antenna on top and one on either side, and they were directing a narrow beam of white light towards the ground below. The two objects slowly drew closer and merged into a single object, about 200 ft in diameter and 50 ft thick. It approached the doctor, then tilted 90 degrees so that the beam of light struck him. He then heard a loud bang, and the object evaporated into a whitish cloud that dissipated with the wind. A thin thread of light rose high into the sky before vanishing as a white dot and exploding like a firework.
A few days earlier the doctor had accidentally cut a vein in his leg while chopping wood, and a decade earlier he had stepped on a landmine in Algeria, leaving his right side partially paralyzed. After the above sighting, he found that the swelling and pain from his leg injury had vanished, and the chronic after-effects of the injuries he had sustained in the Algerian war improved dramatically in the days that followed. A few days after the encounter, the doctor and his child each developed a strange, reddish, triangular mark on the abdomen, and this mark recurred in successive years. Strange paranormal phenomena began to take place around the doctor and his family, including poltergeist activity and unexplained disturbances in electrical circuits.
The doctor began to have mysterious meetings with a strange, nameless man he called ‘Mr Bied’. He would hear a whistling noise inside his head and would feel guided to walk or drive to a certain location where he would meet the man, who would discuss his UFO experience and paranormal matters. Mr Bied caused him to experience apparent teleportation and time travel, including a distressing episode with alternative landscapes on a road that does not exist. The stranger also once visited the doctor at his home accompanied by a 3-ft-tall humanoid with mummified skin, who remained motionless while his eyes quickly darted around the room.13
The doctor experienced uncontrolled levitation on at least one occasion. Several other cases of levitation have been reported in connection with UFOs. In an incident from 1954, a man who was coming back from the fields with his horse had to let go of the bridle as the animal was lifted several feet into the air when a dark, circular object flew fast over the trail they were following.14
One night in December 1973, a man in Vilvoorde, Belgium, heard a strange noise outside his kitchen. Through the curtains he saw a greenish light, and when he pulled them aside he saw a small creature, about 3 ft tall, wearing a shiny one-piece suit that glowed green. It wore a transparent helmet with a tube running down to a backpack. On its stomach was a large red box that seemed to be sparking. The witness directed a flashlight beam at the being, who seemed to be using what looked like a metal detector. The creature raised its hand and made a V-sign, then turned and walked off toward the rear wall of the garden. When it reached the wall, it continued walking straight up it, remaining perpendicular to the surface, and then apparently walked down the other side! Moments later the witness saw a small craft in the distance.15
Two men, Jack and Don, from Nildottie, southern Australia, had been experiencing problems with their outside TV antenna being twisted around. One evening in 1979, the Venetian blinds went up and down. The men went outside and were approached by European-looking people, both males and females, wearing woollen jumpers. A bright light shone on them and they both felt calm. They were taken to a craft standing next to a mound of gravel. It was cold inside and the beings escorted them back to the house to get coats, but they were not allowed to bring food. They then returned to the object and it took off. As it rose, they saw the TV antenna on the house below twist round. Don was given strange, repetitive tests to perform. Seven hours later they returned. When a neighbour visited and found them confused, the police were called in. The men were taken to a local hospital. They were suffering from jaundice and eye problems. Both men, who were in their 30s, eventually lost their sight and passed away within two years of the encounter.16
At about 6:30 pm on 27 September 1989 in the Russian city of Voronezh, three schoolchildren and about 40 adults saw a pink or red light in the sky, which turned into a dark red sphere, about 30 ft in diameter. It flew away but returned a few minutes later and hovered over a park. A hatch opened in the bottom and a being appeared. It was about 10 ft tall, had no neck, and wore silver overalls and bronze-coloured boots. It had three eyes; two were whitish, but the middle eye – or lamp, as one witness called it – was red and had no pupil. The being scanned the terrain, the hatch closed, and the sphere descended, brushing against a poplar tree, which bent and stayed in that position. The object, which measured about 45 ft wide and 19 ft high, then landed. The tall being was accompanied by a small robot. The being said something and a small luminous rectangle appeared on the ground. It said something else and the rectangle disappeared. It then adjusted something on the robot’s chest, causing it to walk in a mechanical way.
One of the boys watching cried out in fear. The being, whose eyes seemed to emit light, looked at him, and the boy froze. When the witnesses started shouting, the sphere and being vanished on the spot. But five minutes later the object and being reappeared. It now held a 4-ft-long tube at its side. When the being pointed it at a 16-year-old boy, the boy became invisible. The being then reentered the sphere, and as the object flew away, the boy reappeared. After taking off, the UFO almost instantaneously became a mere dot and disappeared in the sky. An investigation revealed that the radioactivity level at the landing site was double the background level. Traces were found where the craft’s four legs had stood. There was an area of flattened grass, and the soil was found to have turned to the consistency of stone. It was calculated that an object weighing 11 tons had stood there.
Fig. 6.3. Illustration of the UFO seen in Voronezh (Russia), September 1989.17
Fig. 6.4. Left: The giant alien seen at Voronezh.18 Right: The robot, as drawn by a schoolgirl (courtesy of Jacques Vallee).19
Thousands of Voronezh residents observed several appearances of UFOs between 23 and 29 September 1989, and at least three landings took place, witnessed by over 30 people. As in other cases, many of the sightings occurred in polluted areas: the park used to be a garbage dump, and UFOs also visited the electricity plant and the site of a future nuclear plant.20
In 1967 a woman was driving to New York when her car was stopped by a humming, domed, disc-shaped object. A bright light beamed down from the object and she began to hear voices. They didn’t sound like male or female voices, but were broken and jerky, like a weird chorus of voices. They named a friend she knew and said that at that moment her friend’s brother was involved in a terrible accident miles away. This message proved correct.21
Although close encounters sometimes have an undeniable physical component, it is clear that they frequently involve paranormal phenomena as well. They are sometimes similar to dream and trance states and ghostly experiences, and can be highly surreal. Michael Talbot writes:
in the literature one can find cases in which UFO entities sing absurd songs or throw strange objects (such as potatoes) at witnesses; cases that start out as straightforward abductions aboard spacecraft but end up as hallucinogenic journeys through a series of Dantesque realities; and cases in which humanoid aliens shapeshift into birds, giant insects, and other phantasmagoric creatures.22
As already stated, in the absence of evidence of physical effects on the environment, of independent testimony, and ideally of photographic and film records as well, it is impossible to be certain how much of a UFO sighting or close encounter took place on the physical plane and how much on the astral/mental plane.
In cases involving multiple witnesses, the witnesses sometimes tell the same story, but not always. In one case, a boy saw a hemisphere with three windows and three entities inside, while his friend saw only a white light. And even though he was 200 yards away he saw one of the faces in detail as if it were very close.23
In another case, a woman in England saw a UFO over a major road during the rush hour, yet no one else reported it.24 There are several possible explanations for this. It could be that the UFO existed only in the witness’s mind, being either a self-generated hallucination or one induced by another agency. Or the witness might have seen the UFO clairvoyantly. John Keel writes:
It is most likely that some UFOs are masses of plastic energy normally invisible to us, but which can – when conditions are just right – alter their frequencies and enter the visible spectrum. In other words, UFOs are always present in the skies but can only be seen at certain times ... or by certain people; people with latent or active psychic abilities whose eyes are tuned to see slightly beyond the visible spectrum.25
Keel points out that a sighting often begins with a reddish glow marking the emergence of the object from the invisible band of the spectrum into infrared and then into the narrow band of visible light. Or, if the object is passing through the visible band to the higher frequencies it is cyan (bluish-green) before it fades into blue and then enters the ultraviolet range.26
In some close-encounter cases, witnesses were later unable to relocate the site of their experience. Buildings and landmarks clearly seen at the time seem to vanish, and roads and highways seem to disappear. As Keel notes, this is a well-known phenomenon in psychic lore, probably because some people are prone to psychic hallucinations. Here, too, witnesses might sometimes be tuning in to the ‘superspectrum’, i.e. to astral realities. In some UFO reports the aliens apparently could not see the witnesses or expressed surprise that humans could see them.27
Alien entities sometimes make use of paralyzing rays and similar devices. In a case from August 1947, a geology professor on a rock-hunting expedition in the mountains of northeastern Italy came upon a red, lens-shaped object, about 30 ft wide and 18 ft high. He saw two small, green-skinned humanoid creatures and shouted out to them, asking them who they were. As he did so he raised his alpinist’s pick. One of the two creatures then put its right hand to its belt, and there was a puff of smoke or a ray of some kind. The pick flew out of the professor’s hand, and he found himself on the ground, paralyzed. The beings retrieved the pick and returned to their craft. As the witness struggled to sit up the craft shot into the air.28 If cases like this are more than just hallucinations, they could involve the use of paranormal forces rather than high-tech physical gadgets.
Witnesses who find themselves immobilized may be in a trance state. John Keel points out that a close-encounter experience commonly begins with a sudden flash of light or a sound – a humming, buzzing or beeping. Witnesses’ attention is rivetted to a pulsing, flickering light of dazzling intensity, and they often find themselves rooted to the spot, unable to move. The flickering light then goes through a series of colour changes and a seemingly physical object begins to form, such as an unusual flying machine or an entity of some kind.
The percipient is first entranced by the flickering light. From the moment he feels paralyzed he loses touch with reality and begins to hallucinate. The light remains a light, but his or her mind constructs something else. The paralysis is a form of hypnosis. ...
When he comes out of his trance and looks at his watch he finds that hours have passed even though he thought he only watched the light for a few seconds.
In a religious miracle such as that at Garabandal, Spain, in the 1960s, crowds surrounded the small children as they entered trances and conversed with entities only they could see. The children sometimes remained motionless for hours, but when they came out of their trances they thought only minutes had passed.29
Keel adds that if hallucinations really are part of the close-encounter phenomenon, ‘a large part of our descriptive data is completely false and worthless’.30 On the other hand, hallucinations alone cannot of course account for the many radar sightings, photographs, and landing events which leave physical traces.
Close-encounter witnesses often report that a variety of paranormal events, especially poltergeist phenomena, start happening following their sighting, and sometimes shortly before it. Some develop psychic powers such as telepathy and psychic healing, while others have a past history of paranormal experiences. Some witnesses report visits by sinister ‘men in black’, who make threats in an effort to silence them, or they see apparitions, which sometimes attack them.31 Not only witnesses, but also some ufologists claim strange things started happening to them after they began to study the phenomenon, including UFO sightings or abductions, harassment by mysterious persons, and a wide range of paranormal experiences.
Several surveys have been conducted into the type of people who report UFO experiences. Since the samples tend to be fairly small, the results have been somewhat contradictory. However, a general finding is that UFO experiencers tend to be mentally healthy individuals with no obvious neurotic or psychotic symptoms, though they may have more psychological problems than the general populace. One study found that UFO experiencers in general were not more psychopathological, less intelligent, or more fantasy prone and hypnotizable than other people. However, intense UFO experiencers did tend to be more fantasy prone and to have a higher belief in UFOs and paranormal phenomena.32
Close-encounter experiencers are often, though by no means always, psychic.33 According to a survey by the British UFO organization BUFORA, close-encounter witnesses have a high rate of self-reported ESP, a high rate of self-reported UFO and ‘flying’ dreams, and they tend to be status inconsistent (i.e. to hold jobs not consistent with their intelligence or social status). Witnesses exhibiting status-inconsistency had severe difficulties adjusting to virtually all areas of life – marital, social, business, and professional. A reasonably high number of witnesses reported having religious or mystical experiences, but tended to turn away from the conventional church.34
Kenneth Ring found that although UFO encounter experiencers and near-death experiencers are not especially fantasy prone, they tend to be sensitive to nonordinary realities and their denizens, even as children. Both types of experiencers describe a wide spectrum of enduring psychophysical changes following their encounters, such as allergies, mood fluctuations, disturbances in nearby electrical equipment, and paranormal abilities and healing gifts.35
Ring also found that those who had undergone a UFO or NDE encounter, and even those who merely took a deep interest in them, tend to report that it has made a positive difference in their lives; they speak of having a greater appreciation for themselves and others, for the environment and for the world at large, and undergo a marked shift towards religious universalism. They tend to believe that ‘higher forces’ or a purposive intelligence are orchestrating these experiences and propelling the human race towards a more spiritual level of consciousness.36
On the other hand, close-encounter witnesses sometimes react to their experiences very negatively. They may become nervous wrecks, divorce their wives, lose their jobs, or go bankrupt. After a close encounter, a West Virginia high school teacher soberly informed his students that he was really a Venusian. Many of the entities encountered in close encounters seem to practise deception, and to strengthen any tendency to self-delusion on the part of witnesses. As John Keel notes, many of the ‘gods’ and other unusual entities encountered throughout the ages have caused similar havoc in people’s lives.37
1. Jacques Vallee, Confrontations: A scientist’s search for alien contact, London: Souvenir Press, 1990, p. 196.
2. John A. Keel, Strange Creatures from Time and Space, London: Sphere, 1979, pp. 212-3.
3. Kevin Randle and Russ Estes, Faces of the Visitors: An illustrated reference to alien contact, New York: Fireside, 1997, pp. 224-67.
4. Brad Steiger, Mysteries of Time and Space, West Chester, PA: Whitford Press, 1989, p. 206.
5. Jacques Vallee, Passport to Magonia: On UFOs, folklore, and parallel worlds, Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books, 1993 (1969), p. 233; Faces of the Visitors, p. 270.
6. Jacques Vallee, Dimensions: A casebook of alien contact, New York: Ballantine Books, 1989, pp. 61-2.
7. Passport to Magonia, p. 285.
8. Ibid., p. 294.
9. Dimensions, pp. 24-5; Confrontations, pp. 107-11; Timothy Good, Beyond Top Secret: The worldwide UFO security threat, London: Sidgwick & Jackson, 1996, pp. 111-2.
10. John A. Keel, The Mothman Prophecies, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2002 (1975), pp. 119-20, 127-8.
11. Patrick Huyghe, The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997, pp. 36-7.
12. Ibid., p. 37 (illustration by Harry Trumbore).
13. Confrontations, pp. 113-20; The Field Guide to UFOs, pp. 126-7.
14. Dimensions, pp. 156-7.
15. Faces of the Visitors, pp. 59-61.
16. Albert Rosales, ‘The strangest of the strange’, The Anomalist, no. 12, 2006, pp. 145-59; phantomsandmonsters.com.
18. Faces of the Visitors, p. 53.
19. Jacques Vallee, UFO Chronicles of the Soviet Union: A cosmic samizdat, New York: Ballantine Books, 1992, p. 44.
20. The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials, pp. 52-3; UFO Chronicles of the Soviet Union, pp. 41-61.
21. Richard L. Thompson, Alien Identities: Ancient insights into modern UFO phenomena, Alachua, FL: Govardhan Hill Publishing, 2nd ed., 1995, p. 166.
22. Michael Talbot, The Holographic Universe, New York: HarperPerennial, 1991, p. 278.
23. John Spencer, Gifts of the Gods? Are UFOs alien visitors or psychic phenomena?, London: Virgin, 1994, pp. 186-8.
24. Ibid., pp. 328-9.
25. John A. Keel, Disneyland of the Gods, Lilburn, GA: IllumiNet, 1995, p. 140.
26. The Mothman Prophecies, p. 47.
27. Ibid., pp. 212, 273; Strange Creatures from Time and Space, pp. 136, 159.
28. The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials, pp. 38-9.
29. The Mothman Prophecies, pp. 205, 207.
30. Strange Creatures from Time and Space, p. 197.
31. See Visitors from the twilight zone, http://davidpratt.info.
32. James R. Lewis (ed.), The Gods Have Landed: New religions from other worlds, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995, p. 235; Charles F. Emmons, At the Threshold: UFOs, science and the new age, Mill Spring, NC: Wild Flower Press, 1997, pp. 173-4.
33. Kenneth Ring, The Omega Project: Near-death experiences, UFO encounters, and mind at large, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1992, pp. 114-5, 136-7.
34. Gifts of the Gods?, pp. 167-8.
35. The Omega Project, pp. 129, 137, 146-7, 156, 161.
36. Ibid., pp. 178-9, 183, 190.
37. Disneyland of the Gods, pp. 146-7.
7. The visitors
The ‘aliens’ described by witnesses over the past 60 years display a great diversity of shape, size, skin colour and other features. Patrick Huyghe writes:
Through the years there have been aliens of all colors: black, white, red, orange, yellow, blue, violet, and of course, gray and green. They can be minuscule, just a few inches tall, or tower above the witnesses, standing 10 feet tall or more. They range from small hairy dwarfs to bald giants. Some look nearly human, others comically alien. A few are living manifestations of a nightmare. While they often look like flesh-and-blood or metallic beings, many can perform ghostlike feats such as walking through walls. They display various eccentricities in their dress, behavior, and speech content. Some act like saints, others like demons. And when it comes to telling fibs, it has been noted, no politician on Earth could do better.1
Most aliens are described as bipeds, though there have been a few reports of unipeds as well. Some aliens have been seen to float in the air rather than walk. Some appear to have no arms, others have more than two, and occasionally the upper limbs take the form of tentacles or wings. The arms usually end in hands, which commonly have only three or four fingers. Some entities have unusually long fingers and arms extending below their knees. In a few cases, claws or strange tool-like instruments have been reported instead of hands. Nearly all aliens have heads, often abnormally large, but a few have been described as having no head, and some appear to have no neck.
Nearly all aliens have two eyes, but a few have three, one, or none. They are often larger, rounder or more slitlike than a human’s, and tend to wrap further around their heads. They are usually solid black, with no pupils, whites or irises. Sometimes their eyes are described as glowing, as multiple like a fly’s, or as possessing vertical pupils. Aliens often lack a nose, having only nostrils, or they may possess an extremely prominent one. Their mouths are usually small and lipless. Reports of teeth are extremely rare. Some aliens have no ears, or mere orifices, or have ears resembling those of a calf or mouse.
The skin of aliens also shows great variation. The ‘grays’ usually have smooth, pale, hairless skin, either pasty-looking or translucent. Witnesses are often unsure whether they are seeing the aliens’ naked skin or tight-fitting clothing. Some aliens have wrinkled skin, pockmarked or ruddy skin, or scaly, reptilian skin. There are also many reports of extremely hairy aliens.
Huyghe divides the ‘visitors’ into four main classes, subdivided into types: 1. humanoid (types: ‘human’, short gray, short non-gray, giant, nonclassic); 2. animalian (types: hairy mammalian, reptilian, amphibian, insectoid, avian); 3. robotic (types: metallic, fleshy); 4. exotic (types: apparitional, physical).
Occasionally, different types of beings are seen coming out of the same craft. For instance, at 1 am on 26 November 1973, near Mairieux, France, a man and woman in a parked car noticed a white, metallic-looking, hemispherical object some 50 feet wide in the snow-covered fields, 100 yards away. A dark opening appeared in the object, from which emerged three 4-ft-tall humanoids with large heads, protruding eyes, holes for a nose, narrow mouths and long arms, dressed in tight, one-piece, metallic-looking suits. Each carried a small dark box with a luminous white ‘screen’. They walked slowly, with stiff small steps, and fanned out as if searching for something. They were followed by two human-looking figures about 6.5 feet tall, with light complexions and blond, shoulder-length hair, dressed in similar suits. Closest to the door stood a squat, apelike figure with long dangling arms, covered with dark fur. When the small beings approached the car, the woman jumped out and ran back to her own car. The apelike creature then re-entered the object, followed by the two humans and the three humanoids, which ran with such long, swift strides they looked as if they were flying over the ground. The dark opening disappeared, and the UFO took on a brilliant metallic colour, rose vertically for 30 feet, then shot off westwards, becoming successively orange, blueish and reddish before dwindling to a point.2
The dominant popular image of aliens today is that of short humanlike beings with lightbulb-shaped heads, almond-shaped black eyes, and fragile bodies – the ‘grays’. But even among grays there are many variants. Although most are about 3.5 ft (1 m) tall, others are 5, 6, or 7 ft tall. And while most have a pasty, hairless skin, some have brown or black skin and wispy hair. Significantly, although short gray entities are ubiquitous today, they were largely absent from UFO reports prior to the 1960s. Huyghe says:
The very earliest reports of entities involved primarily humanlike beings. And while the human types in the form of the blond ‘Nordics’ were once responsible for about a quarter of the total cases, since the 1960s they have not been quite as common. Similarly, the hairy dwarfs that were reported so frequently in the 1950s are rather infrequent in contemporary accounts.
... [P]rior to 1987, when Whitley Strieber’s Communion and Budd Hopkins’s Intruders were published in England, less than a quarter of the entities reported in Britain’s abduction cases were of the small, bald-headed entities. But after the books appeared there, more than half of the cases involved the ‘American standardized alien’ ... Because American abduction cases get more publicity than any other such cases, it seems as if the image of the Gray has been more or less imposed on the rest of the world as the standard alien type.3
Fig. 7.1. The front cover of Strieber’s 1987 bestseller.
The fact that the mass media and popular culture (books, films, TV programmes, etc.) have influenced the appearance assumed by ‘aliens’ clearly shows that we are not dealing with purely physical manifestations; popular beliefs and expectations play a major role in shaping the UFO phenomenon. It is also interesting that, on the whole, the UFO phenomenon has tended to keep one step ahead of human technology, progressing from aerial ships to dirigibles to ghost rockets to flying saucers, with aliens’ current activities including biogenetic engineering.4
Alien types also reflect national characteristics, though this influence has diminished somewhat through the media’s role in turning the Gray into the prototypical alien:
From South America came reports of small swarthy dwarfs who were fairly aggressive, while from Europe and in particular, England, many reports were of tall blond blue-eyed beings with a much friendlier disposition. Meanwhile in North America the standard Short Gray with its shockingly indifferent disposition predominated. This once apparent geographical difference among alien types presents a major stumbling block to the reality of UFO extraterrestrials. The phenomenon seems to mold itself to conform to the culture and time in which it appears. This implies that the encounters are more likely visions than visitations by extraterrestrials.5
In a South African case from 1974, when asked by the hypnotist what the aliens looked like, the witness made the telling comment: ‘They looked how I wanted them to look.’
Many early reports, especially from France and South America, mentioned beings in diving suits and helmets with tubes extending down into backpacks, reflecting the prevailing belief that aliens would be unable to breathe our atmosphere. Later, as the contactee phenomenon began to spread and Star Trek suggested that earthlike planets existed throughout the galaxy, the diving suits and breathing apparatus gave way to silver jumpsuits. Some accounts feature entities wearing strange costumes with sashes, capes and insignia, but it seems unlikely that outmoded human clothing styles are the latest fashions on distant planets.
The nature of the contacts between humans and aliens has evolved. In the early days UFO occupants often acted like shy strangers. They were seen repairing their craft, collecting samples of soil, rocks or plants, and often fled if observed. Some did, however, talk to humans, or paralyzed them, or occasionally tried to abduct them. The 1950s were also the heyday of the contactees and friendly ‘space brothers’. Nowadays, aliens are much less likely to take evasive action if humans come across them. In fact, the past couple of decades have seen an explosion in the number of abduction reports.
Animals tend to be afraid of alien entities, as well as of their craft. For instance, after seeing a disc-shaped UFO one evening, a man was awakened in the night and saw two small creatures wearing silver suits outside his house, gathering soil and vegetation samples. He ordered his German shepherd to attack but it refused and ran back into the house.6
Aliens’ linguistic skills vary markedly. They may speak the language of witnesses perfectly, or they may speak it with a ‘foreign’ accent, or they may speak an unknown language. Other aliens are described as making whining, growling, gargling, cackling, buzzing, or birdlike sounds. Reports of telepathic communication are common, both among aliens themselves, and between aliens and humans.
UFO entities have claimed to have some interesting names: e.g. Affa, A-lan, Ashtar, Ausso, Kronin, Orthon, Quazgaa, Semjase (pronounced: Sem-ya-see), Xeno, Zandark. Their names often seem to be adopted from mythology.7 For instance, ‘Kronin’ resembles ‘Cronus’, the Roman god of time, and ‘Ashtar’ resembles ‘Ishtar’, the Mesopotamian goddess of fertility, war, love and sex.
The statements made by UFO entities frequently seem to be a cross between disinformation and sheer nonsense, and sometimes have a distinctly surreal quality. Consider, for example, the following enigmatic comment made by Semjase, allegedly a female alien from the Pleiades: ‘General public contacts are not in our own best interests at this time, and besides, they would not convey a correct significance for the state of mind in which we now exist.’8 The following alien message is more revealing: ‘We refuse to be your answer. Just when you think you have us pinned down, we’ll tell you something else. No one belief system can encompass all of reality in a complex universe.’9
Aliens often claim to have visited earth in the past, and to have helped to create humankind by genetic manipulation. Sometimes they say they have hidden bases on earth. In the early days, they warned against the dangers of nuclear tests, but nowadays they warn against more general environmental disasters, as if reflecting changing human concerns. Sometimes they claim our activities affect them, which would make sense if they are closely associated with our earth. They frequently point out the deplorable qualities of humans, and many have stressed the importance of universal love. They have repeatedly forecast war and mass landings but all such predictions have failed to come true.
In one case, the aliens claimed they stole electricity from power lines but in amounts too small for power companies to detect! On several occasions in the early days they claimed that our use of radar had caused several UFOs to crash – an equally unlikely story. On the other hand, the large-scale use of radar, which emits high-energy microwave pulses, must be causing major disturbances in the ethereal borderland, and this could be a factor in the increased sightings of UFOs since the Second World War.
One woman recalled under hypnosis that aliens had shown her a special motor. She was determined to build it, but the design proved to be completely unworkable. There are two cases in which aliens promoted an ineffective cancer cure, namely injecting vinegar into cancerous tumours – an old folk remedy.10
Channelled messages from ‘aliens’ are common nowadays and need to be treated with as much scepticism as other channelled messages (even in the 19th century a few mediums claimed to channel messages from Martians). The messages could come from the recipient’s own subconscious or superconscious mind, or from denizens of the astral world, who seem to delight in play-acting and tend to mirror ideas found in the recipient’s mind or the wider mind of Gaia. The communications sometimes contain technical gibberish about UFOs’ means of propulsion. References to the soul, reincarnation and higher planes or ‘dimensions’ are commonplace in channelled material and reflect the resurgence of these ‘new age’ (or rather timeless) ideas.
During the 1954 UFO wave, which one researcher called ‘a festival of absurdities’, a Frenchman was suddenly confronted with a UFO occupant who pointed a gun at him and said something he could not understand. When the Frenchman spoke to him in Russian, the ‘alien’ answered in the same language, and asked whether he was in Spain or Italy, and how far he was from Germany – though he was in France at the time! He then asked the time, and the Frenchman replied, ‘It’s 2:30’, only to be bluntly told, ‘You lie, it’s 4 o’clock’.11 Clearly we are not dealing here with a member of a superintelligent extraterrestrial civilization!
Aliens frequently ask about the time, and this could reflect the confused and disoriented mental state of such visitants. At the same time, such communications may be prompting us to question our conventional notions of reality. Vallee says that alien communications ‘often have the deep poetic and paradoxical quality of Eastern religious tales’ (such as the Zen koan, ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping?’).12 Speaking of the UFO phenomenon in general, Kenneth Ring says: ‘Mind at Large has given humanity a cosmic koan to dwell upon, for we are all disciples in the mystery school that life itself represents.’13
UFO occupants definitely seem to want to give us the impression that they are of extraterrestrial origin (or perhaps we want to give ourselves that impression). They have variously indicated that they are from Mercury, Venus, Mars, Titan (a moon of Saturn), a ‘galaxy’ near Uranus (!), the ‘galaxy’ of Ganymede (Ganymede is actually a moon of Jupiter), ‘Clarion’ (a planet allegedly hidden from us by the moon), the Pleiades, Sirius, Orion, Reticulum, ‘Hoova’ (wherever that might be), and ‘a very distant planet with many advantages for earthlings’. By contrast, the occupants of the mysterious airships sighted over the US in 1896-97 reportedly claimed to come from Kansas, from Cuba, from ‘a place where it doesn’t rain’, and one witness was even told, ‘We are from anywhere ... but we’ll be in Greece tomorrow’!14
1. Patrick Huyghe, The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials, London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1997, pp. 6-7.
2. Albert Rosales, ‘The strangest of the strange’, The Anomalist, no. 12, 2006, pp. 145-59.
3. The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials, p. 129.
4. Jacques Vallee, Dimensions: A casebook of alien contact, New York: Ballantine Books, 1989, pp. 140, 148.
5. The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials, pp. 129-30.
6. Kevin Randle and Russ Estes, Faces of the Visitors: An illustrated reference to alien contact, New York: Fireside, 1997, p. 284.
7. John A. Keel, The Mothman Prophecies, London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2002 (1975), pp. 141, 198-9.
8. Richard Grossinger, The Night Sky: The science and anthropology of the stars and planets, Los Angeles, CA: Jeremy P. Tarcher, 1988, p. 373.
9. Charles F. Emmons, At the Threshold: UFOs, science and the new age, Mill Spring, NC: Wild Flower Press, 1997, p. 185.
10. Richard L. Thompson, Alien Identities: Ancient insights into modern UFO phenomena, Alachua, FL: Govardhan Hill Publishing, 2nd ed., 1995, p. 179.
11. Jacques Vallee, Passport to Magonia: On UFOs, folklore, and parallel worlds, Chicago, IL: Contemporary Books, 1993 (1969), pp. 234-5.
12. Dimensions, p. 158.
13. Kenneth Ring, The Omega Project: Near-death experiences, UFO encounters, and mind at large, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1992, p. 246.
14. Dimensions, p. 159.
8. Alien abductions - 1
Reports of people being abducted by aliens were very rare in the 1950s and 60s but started to multiply during the early 70s. And they began to assume epidemic proportions following the publication of Budd Hopkins’ Missing Time in 1980 and Whitley Strieber’s Communion in 1987. Whereas abductions initially seemed to be one-time happenings, abductees began to report multiple experiences going back to their childhood, and in some cases even as far back as the late 19th century. After 1980 the abductees also began to talk of being subjected to much more invasive medical procedures. Two surveys – which critics have dismissed as hopelessly flawed – have been interpreted by abductionists to mean that over three million Americans might have been abducted over the past 50 years!1 In the first survey, it was assumed that anyone who had had at least four of the following five ‘unusual experiences’ had probably been abducted by aliens: an hour or more of ‘missing time’, seeing unusual lights in a room, finding puzzling scars on their body, seeing a strange figure in their bedroom, having a feeling of flying through the air. The fact that abductees who take lie-detector tests usually pass them shows that they firmly believe the tale they are telling. But almost without exception there is no compelling evidence that they have had an objective physical experience.
Abduction stories typically begin during the night while the ‘victim’ is driving on a lonely road or after waking up in bed. In some cases a ‘spacecraft’ or just a bright light is first sighted, but in other cases strange humanoid beings appear without a UFO being seen. Victims are often paralyzed or otherwise immobilized at this point. They occasionally remember being carried or escorted on board the craft, or ‘floated’ through solid walls and roofs or closed doors and windows, sometimes in a beam of light. But more commonly abductees cannot recall how they ended up inside what they assume to be an alien spacecraft.
Abductees typically find themselves in a strange, brightly-lit room, often filled with sophisticated equipment. After they have been stretched out on a table, a painful ‘medical’ examination is carried out: cuts are made, blood is often drawn, ova or sperm are extracted, and various bodily orifices are probed. Genitals receive special attention, and reports of sexual activity between the aliens and their victims have become increasingly common. The aliens who perform the examinations are grim and businesslike, and others stand around and watch. At the end of the examination, victims’ memories of the entire episode are erased, or they are asked to refrain from telling anyone what has happened. Finally, some abductees describe tours of the spaceship, discussions of ecological and geopolitical crises on earth, and even journeys to other worlds, with the exact details varying widely from one case to another.
UFO sightings involve an average of around 2.5 witnesses, whereas abductions usually involve only the person directly concerned. If two or more people are present, they may later recall similar experiences, or only one may claim an abduction while the others deny that the person concerned ever left their presence. For instance, an Australian woman believed she was being periodically taken on board a spacecraft. On one occasion investigators were with her when she began to describe being abducted, yet everyone else could see her still seated in a parked car!2 Whatever the event entailed, it clearly did not take place on the physical level.
Whereas most UFO sightings seem to occur while witnesses are in a ‘normal’ state of mind, abductions often seem to have a quality about them – even to most witnesses – that suggests an altered state of consciousness. When modern abductees report being ‘floated’ out of their bedrooms or cars through solid walls and roofs to waiting spaceships in a beam of light, without feeling cold as they travel upward, there is good reason to suspect that this is not a physical experience.
Many abductees and some researchers believe that alien abductors are ‘extradimensional’ rather than extraterrestrial. This is usually interpreted to mean that the aliens have evolved on another plane of reality or in a ‘parallel universe’, and have developed an advanced civilization and a technology that enables them to materialize and dematerialize at will. However, this hypothesis is just as problematic as the extraterrestrial hypothesis. The genetic and reproductive experiments reported are crude and primitive and are certainly not the work of superintelligent beings. What’s more, the idea that an essentially ethereal race would be genetically compatible with physical humans is as unlikely as the idea that aliens who had evolved on another physical planet would be. Genuine abduction experiences may well involve paraphysical levels of reality, but the ‘abductors’ show no sign of being highly evolved beings.
Abduction memories rarely emerge unaided. People who suspect they may be abductees commonly seek out help for a variety of reasons, such as vague anxieties, specific phobias, bad dreams, fragmentary and disturbing memories, or what seems like an inexplicable episode of ‘missing time’. It is usually only after consultation with a psychotherapist or UFO investigator that they can articulate an elaborate ‘memory’ of being abducted by aliens.
The fact that most abduction memories are at least partly recovered under hypnosis is the main reason critics cite for challenging their authenticity. Hypnosis can enable people to remember more details of an event; for instance it has enabled crime victims to remember details such as a licence plate number or a mugger’s clothing. However, it also enables people to ‘remember’ things that have never happened, leading to wild confabulations; this is known as the false memory syndrome. Hypnosis can make people more suggestible and eager to please the questioner.
Many critics therefore argue that the vast majority of abduction stories are pure fabrications produced under hypnosis.3 They give examples from the abduction literature showing how researchers ask leading questions, and subtly and unconsciously induce witnesses to create a tale that fits in with their own beliefs and expectations – and indeed with the abductees’ own beliefs, since people do not approach abductionists unless they are already open to the idea that they have been abducted by aliens.
Abduction researchers often claim that the experiences related by abductees are so horrific and the emotions displayed so intense that they must be literally true. Randle et al. say that this is demonstrably false. They draw a parallel between tales of abduction and tales of satanic ritual abuse. The latter are based almost exclusively on testimony recovered through hypnotic regression, visualization and other memory enhancement techniques. Thousands of people who believe that they are the victims of satanic ritual abuse tell horrible tales of murder, mutilation and human sacrifice. But as with abductions, there is virtually no physical or corroborative evidence, and in some cases it has been proved that the events remembered could not possibly have happened. Many of those who once believed they had been abused begin to doubt the reality of the memories after leaving therapy or finding a new therapist.4
Interestingly, abduction researcher Richard Boylan took a woman who believed she had been abused based on her work with another therapist and managed to convince her that she had been abducted by aliens instead! He provided her with books and articles on abductions, discussed his beliefs in extraterrestrials with her, and finally turned vague dreams into an abduction experience. The satanic ritual abuse was supposedly a ‘screen memory’.5
The agendas of the various abduction researchers are reflected in what they find: Budd Hopkins found cold, calculating aliens who are carrying out genetic manipulation; John Mack found aliens that have a new age philosophy and provide positive experiences; and David Jacobs finds Hopkins-type aliens but they are now pursuing an agenda of domination.
Jacobs says he belongs to the ‘Realist’ school of abduction researchers, and attacks ‘Positives’ like Mack who believe that abductees may be tapping into an alternate reality and may undergo a positive transformation. He says that the Positive position is ‘based on unproven metaphysical assumptions and incompetent hypnosis’, and that ‘hypnotists with specific New Age agendas could slant hypnotically recalled testimony to the hypnotists’ beliefs’.6 Mack acknowledges that the quality of abductees’ experiences varies according to who does the regression, and says that Jacobs and Hopkins ‘may pull out of their experiencers what they want to see’.7 It is noteworthy that while abduction researchers often accuse their colleagues of incompetent hypnosis, they never apply the same criticism to themselves!
Abduction ‘memories’ are often utterly implausible and preposterous. In a case studied by Jacobs, for example, ‘Tom and Nancy’ were making love when Nancy felt ‘an electric jolt’ go through her hips. Tom, however, felt nothing, but when he looked at the clock he was surprised to find that he had been engaged in lovemaking for about 45 minutes. ‘Lucky Tom and Nancy!’ you might think. But unfortunately the ‘missing time’ was regarded as potential evidence of alien kidnap, and under hypnosis Nancy ‘remembered’ being abducted – her husband had not noticed as the aliens had ‘switched him off’!8 (Presumably when Nancy returned she ‘turned him on’ again, and the performance continued as if it had never been interrupted!) Some abductees even claim that they were abducted from crowded urban settings or removed from their apartments in a beam of light without anybody else noticing thanks to the aliens’ remarkable ability to ‘switch people off’.
Mack tended to accept whatever ‘abductees’ told him, no matter how outlandish. For instance, he regressed a young man called ‘Paul’ to an abduction in 1972, when he was six years old. Paul estimated he had already been on the ‘spacecraft’ about 70 times, yet he is given a standard tour as if he had never set foot on it before. The aliens tell him that he is an alien spirit in a human body and that there are many dual-identity aliens on earth. His home planet – which is very far away but ‘in this universe’ – is very peaceful, and the aliens are here to try and help humanity (by abducting and violating them?!). But humans have been very violent and hostile and have killed many aliens. The aliens allegedly came here thousands of years ago, and communicated with dinosaurs who had great intelligence, compassion and powers of precognition.
In further regressions, Paul is ‘shown the world’ by a hooded figure with a pointer and sees many people dying, but he is told that he himself is ‘going to fix it’. Regressed to the age of 12, he ‘remembers’ a battle in a cellar with what ‘some people call Satan’. He recalls that he was abducted at the age of nine and a piece of bone was removed from his leg – but Mack gives no sign that he has bothered to check this detail. The aliens tell him they want him to form a group that can meet with them to enter into an ‘exchange of love’. He says that the aliens have shown him ‘where the creational force is’, and claims to have notebooks full of ‘solid’ information on their ‘unbelievable’ technology.
‘Unbelievable’ is perhaps an understatement. For Paul recalls that at the age of nine he was present at the scene of the saucer crash near Roswell, an event that is supposed to have happened in 1947, 19 years before Paul was born. (It can’t get much more ‘unbelievable’ than that!) Apparently, soldiers shot the aliens who had crashed, but luckily Paul came along in another craft to rescue them! Mack says that he finds Paul’s fabulous tale ‘compelling and persuasive’ due to his ‘intensity of feeling and bodily movement’. Peter Brookesmith, on the other hand, labels it ‘clichéd messianic contactee drivel’.9
It would of course be wrong to assume that everything remembered under hypnosis must be false. Moreover, about a quarter of abduction accounts are said to be recalled without resorting to hypnosis, and abduction experiences recalled under hypnosis are very similar to those recalled without hypnosis. Newman and Baumeister, however, argue that ‘Enacting the kind of “imaginative role-playing” characteristic of hypnosis is possible even without intentional induction of a hypnotic state. ... The key to implanting false memories ... is the protracted imagining of events in the presence of authority figures who encourage belief in and confirm the authenticity of the pseudomemories.’10
Where abductions are recalled without hypnosis, the memories often come from dreams or nightmares. In a survey of over 150 abductees, Randle et al. found that many abductees have difficulty distinguishing between reality and dreams or fantasy. Through hypnosis, they are encouraged to believe that their vivid dreams are memories of actual experiences. We all dream about the things we experience and think about during the day, and thinking about aliens and abductions in the daytime increases the likelihood of dreaming of them at night.
Randle et al. believe that about 50% of UFO abduction reports have their origin in sleep paralysis. This refers to the temporary inability to move or speak when awakening, and less commonly when falling asleep. It is sometimes accompanied by hallucinations (known as ‘hypnagogic’ when falling asleep, and ‘hypnopompic’ when waking up), such as sensing the presence of a threatening entity in the room or sitting on one’s chest. It affects as many as one in five or six of the general population.11
Abductions often contain dreamlike elements, including jarring discontinuities. Abductees frequently report being outside their body during certain stages of the event, or view themselves in the third person throughout. They report very common dream imagery, such as floating or flying, falling endlessly, or appearing naked in a public place. Typically, the aliens appear, and then the experiencer is suddenly inside the UFO. Day instantly becomes night, the inside of a room or craft appears far larger than its exterior dimensions would allow (some see this as a sign of the aliens’ advanced technology!), and events which subjectively seem to have taken hours are found to have taken minutes, or vice versa.12
No photographs or films of an abduction have ever been made, despite the concerted efforts of some abductees to document their experiences on videotape. Videotaping in bedrooms where regular abductions supposedly occur has only delayed abductions, until people get tired of setting up the camera or the abductee sleeps somewhere else. Attempts by abductees to steal souvenirs while on the alien craft are usually unsuccessful, or if a souvenir is supposedly brought back it later can’t be found.13 These facts, too, point towards a psychological or psychic experience rather than a physical experience.
80% of abductees are women. Randle et al. found that a high percentage of abductees reported gender identity problems, dysfunctional families and broken lives. As many as 90% of the abductees in their sample had some kind of sexual dysfunction, and their tales of rape and sexual activity on UFOs could be seen as evidence of these problems. Nearly all of them claimed that they were either sexually penetrated by an alien creature or forced to sexually penetrate one.
One female abductee said that, while lying immobile on an examination table, a 5-ft alien mounted her, looked deep into her eyes and said, ‘What you need is a good fuck!’ (The manners of this particular ‘alien’ bear a striking resemblance to those of a sexist male earthling!) The woman said that the alien then proceeded to give her ‘the most profound orgasm of my life’. She also said that no abduction researcher had ever asked her about the sexual aspect of abduction, as they were only interested in genetic experiments.14
Most of the male abductees interviewed by Randle et al. reported that a female alien mounted them, but they couldn’t understand how they achieved an erection under the stressful circumstances (this probably points to a ‘dream’ experience). They all reported that the sex act was completed but without the pleasant sensations of orgasm. Significantly, gray-type aliens are normally described as having no obvious sexual differences or genitalia. Yet when the time for alien sex arrives, female grays with breasts and a vagina appear, and male aliens conveniently sprout penises – and very human-looking ones, too, according to eyewitnesses. Clearly all is not as it seems in the weird world of alien abductions.
Newman and Baumeister draw parallels between UFO abduction accounts and the fantasies of sexual masochists.15 The main features of masochism are pain, loss of control, and humiliation – three dominant themes in abduction stories. Victims are often strapped to an examining table, their rectums may be probed, and rape is frequent. But despite the painful, humiliating and degrading experiences they have been subjected to, they often leave their captors with a sense of affection for them and sadness, feeling that they have had an extraordinary, transforming experience. These authors say that such sentiments make sense if abduction narratives are viewed as being about the fulfilment of an intense desire to escape from ordinary self-awareness in demanding, individualistic societies – especially the US, where the vast majority of abductions are reported. Both masochists and abductees tend to come from higher socioeconomic classes and are mostly whites. Many abductees start reporting explicit masochistic fantasies after their abduction.
The similarities between the abduction experiences reported by different people are at first sight very impressive. However, the fact that people tell similar stories in similar ways is not conclusive evidence that the stories are true. An important factor behind similarities in abduction accounts is that researchers know what they expect to find and may subtly influence abductees through their questions and how they react to the answers. Abductees could also be influenced by investigators telepathically – whether hypnosis is used or not. In a classic work on the communication theory of telepathy, psychiatrist Joost Meerloo explored the ‘non-verbal conversation and communication between the unconscious minds of therapist and patient’.16 John Whitmore suggests that Jung’s idea of a collective unconscious, a reservoir of ideas and imagery shared by all people, may help to explain the similar patterns that abduction researchers claim to find among their subjects.17
Abduction researchers often claim that if abductions were purely imaginary we would expect to find far greater variety in abduction accounts. It is important to realize that there is in fact far greater variety than most abductionists like to admit. Whitmore says that the numerous first-person accounts of abductions ‘reveal a wealth of bizarre detail which is not wholly amenable to the neat theories of many ufologists’.18 Many abductions do not involve the well-defined phases described by abductionists, and many are not traumatic, do not involve short gray beings or medical examinations, or devices that look like spacecraft.
The literature contains references to a bewildering variety of beings. In addition to the grays, there are reports of beings with ‘golden, strawlike hair’, others that look like ‘a combination of earth animals’, ‘creatures with wrinkled skin, crab-claw hands, and pointed ears’, and a woman with ‘long red hair and violet eyes’.19 Jacobs, however, insists that the only genuine aliens are the grays, and that if other types of beings are reported, it may be because the grays have made abductees see illusions! This illustrates how selectively some abductionists deal with what is reported.
In multiple abduction cases, the alleged victims often have a close relationship of some sort with each other and have had a chance to talk about the incident and influence each other before any investigation takes place. However, in one case two witnesses, who had gone their separate ways after their abduction experience and had never discussed it, were hypnotized separately many years later and corroborated about 70% of each other’s description of what happened.20 This need not mean they had an objective physical experience, as shared ‘dreams’ are not unknown.
If there really are alien abductors at large, it is curious that the vast majority of abduction reports come from the US, even though it makes up less than 5% of the earth’s land surface. Although similar reports have been made in Great Britain, South America and other parts of the world, they do not seem to have aroused as much fervour as in the US. Non-American abductees seem to have contact with a greater variety of entities than Americans, but such differences are often glossed over by those seeking to emphasize the similarities between different stories.
A major problem in assessing abduction accounts is that witnesses who seek out abduction researchers do not represent a cross-section of close-encounter observers. As Mack says, ‘The population that comes to us ... is certainly self-selected.’21 Jacques Vallee says that ‘abductees’
have preselected themselves in seeking out sensational researchers whose books or television appearances had already provided a template for the witnesses’ experiences. These artificial, preexisting patterns are reinforced under hypnosis, which is often performed under conditions of scandalous incompetence. And the resulting statistics draw from a data base where only the cases that fit the preferred model have been admitted. This is not science, it is a childish and indeed a dangerous game, played on the real tragedy of witnesses’ lives and fears.22
He adds that the professionals he consulted considered it unethical for anyone who had already reached a strong personal conclusion about UFOs to interrogate a witness under hypnosis. Yet some abduction hypnotists now claim that they themselves have been abducted by aliens and have a ‘mission’ on their behalf!
Abductees often claim to find marks or scars on their bodies after an abduction. Since many people have blemishes on the skin, it’s always possible that after a suspected abduction one or more of them are noticed for the first time. Most abduction researchers assume that physical injuries and symptoms are the result of physical examinations by aliens. However, it is well known that trauma on a subtle, mental level can bring about gross physical symptoms. For instance, there are cases in which devout Christians (mostly Catholic women) have developed bleeding wounds (stigmata) resembling those supposedly suffered by Christ during the crucifixion. Stigmata usually appear suddenly during an ecstatic trance, and can disappear quicky without leaving any scars.23
Fig. 8.1. Antonio Ruffini received the stigmata in 1951 after seeing a vision of the Virgin Mary. They remained until his death in 1999. The wounds went right through his palms but never became infected. Doctors who examined them could offer no rational explanation.24
Also, hypnotic suggestion can cause a pattern of reddened skin, such as a cross, to appear on the skin, and can cause physical symptoms, such as warts, to disappear. A man who had a near-death experience in which a man touched him with very hot hands, felt a severe burning sensation in his left arm on returning to consciousness. This area developed the appearance of a boil and left a residual mark after healing. Similarly, a woman abductee who claimed under hypnosis that she was forced to undergo a physical examination, including a vaginal probe, later developed a life-threatening vaginal infection.25
Other characteristics of abductions, according to some researchers, include the implantation and later removal of fetuses, and the presentation to women of their hybrid children. These events are found primarily in the works of researchers who are convinced that extraterrestrials are producing a hybrid race, and who may be influencing their subjects’ testimonies. The medical documentation required to support the hypothesis of ‘missing fetuses’ is lacking. Moreover, many of the women making such claims are post-menopausal women and women who have had hysterectomies or are unable to bear children.26 Like stigmata and other mind-generated bodily marks, false pregnancy could be a sign of the body’s extraordinary responsiveness to mental images and intense desires.
It is interesting to note that themes of missing fetuses and fetal aliens have grown apace with the practice of abortion since the early 1970s. Some researchers suggest that ‘the clinical experience and emotional pain of abortion have burrowed into the psyche to haunt a guilty society with alienated fantasies of the unborn’.27
Many abductees claim that ‘implants’ were inserted into their bodies during their abduction.28 These are allegedly tiny metallic devices for tracking, controlling or monitoring abductees. They are often hard nodules just under the skin, and it’s possible the abductee simply hadn’t noticed them before. Abductees often report nosebleeds, and believe that something has been shoved up their nasal passages. X-rays sometimes reveal objects, but usually do not. In one case x-rays showed something near a person’s nose but it vanished before surgery to remove it could be arranged. Some small ‘implants’ have, however, been removed from the body and analyzed by reputable independent laboratories and scientists, but in each case they have been found to be organic material or slivers of glass or other completely terrestrial material. None of the ‘implants’ recovered to date appear to be high-tech devices.
An intriguing sidelight on this phenomenon is provided by the 16th-century physician and alchemist Paracelsus, who said that nails, hair, needles, bristles, pieces of glass, and many other things had been removed from the bodies of some patients. This state of affairs sometimes continued for many weeks or months, without the physician knowing what to do. He said that these objects were made to enter the patient’s body by the power of the evil imagination of a sorcerer, or practitioner of black magic.29
Whatever the reality status of each abduction experience, abductees tend to believe they have been specifically ‘chosen’ by the aliens. And though they often claim they wish the abductions would stop, each abduction reinforces their own perceived worth and strengthens their sense of self. By becoming an abductee, people can attribute their problems to an external cause and feel absolved of any responsibility. Those who feel unattractive and unwanted attempt to find anything that will bring them the attention they seek, even if that attention is negative. This explains why many abductees are eager for media attention. Many abductees join abduction support groups. But whereas being a member of a support group used to be part of a healing process, it has now become a badge of identity, and recovery has become a lifelong process. Members who think about leaving the group are not seen as recovering but as defecting.30 Support groups therefore play an important role in perpetuating the abduction mania.
1. Peter Brookesmith, ‘Roper’s latest knot: the 1998 abduction survey’, The Anomalist, no. 8, 2000, pp. 32-8.
2. Paul Devereux, Earth Lights Revelation: UFOs and mystery lightform phenomena, London: Blandford, 1990, p. 204.
3. Robert Baker, ‘Alien dreamtime’, The Anomalist, no. 2, 1995, pp. 94-137.
4. Kevin D. Randle, Russ Estes and William P. Cone, The Abduction Enigma: The truth behind the mass alien abductions of the late twentieth century, New York: Forge, 1999, pp. 263-84.
5. Ibid., p. 339.
6. David M. Jacobs (ed.), UFOs and Abductions: Challenging the borders of knowledge, Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2000, p. 207.
7. The Abduction Enigma, p. 245.
8. Peter Brookesmith, ‘Do aliens dream of Jacobs’ sheep?’, Fortean Times, no. 83, Oct/Nov 1995, pp. 22-30 (p. 22).
9. John E. Mack, Abduction: Human encounters with aliens, London: Simon & Schuster, 1995, pp. 217-40; ‘Do aliens dream of Jacobs’ sheep?’, p. 27.
10. Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, ‘Toward an explanation of the UFO abduction phenomenon: hypnotic elaboration, extraterrestrial sadomasochism, and spurious memories’, Psychological Inquiry, v. 7, 1996, pp. 99-126 (p. 108).
11. The Abduction Enigma, pp. 130-42.
12. John Whitmore, ‘Religious dimensions of the UFO abductee experience’, in: James R. Lewis (ed.), The Gods Have Landed: New religions from other worlds, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 1995, pp. 65-84 (p. 69).
13. Charles F. Emmons, At the Threshold: UFOs, science and the new age, Mill Spring, NC: Wild Flower Press, 1997, pp. 155-6.
14. The Abduction Enigma, p. 97.
15. ‘Toward an explanation of the UFO abduction phenomenon’.
16. Joost A.M. Meerloo, Hidden Communion: Studies in the communication theory of telepathy, New York: Helix, 1946.
17. ‘Religious dimensions of the UFO abductee experience’, p. 68.
18. Ibid., p. 66.
19. ‘Toward an explanation of the UFO abduction phenomenon’, p. 101.
20. Richard L. Thompson, Alien Identities: Ancient insights into modern UFO phenomena, Alachua, FL: Govardhan Hill Publishing, 2nd ed., 1995, pp. 118-24.
21. UFOs and Abductions, p. 247.
22. Jacques Vallee, Revelations: Alien contact and human deception, New York: Ballantine Books, 1991, p. 248.
23. Marco Margnelli, ‘An unusual case of stigmatization’, Journal of Scientific Exploration, v. 13, 1999, pp. 461-82.
24. Antonio Ruffini, www.visionsofjesuschrist.com.
25. Alien Identities, pp. 316, 348, 350.
26. The Abduction Enigma, pp. 322-7.
27. Thomas E. Bullard, ‘UFOs: lost in the myths’, in: UFOs and Abductions, pp. 141-91 (p. 174); Dennis Stacy, Journal of Scientific Exploration, v. 7, 1993, pp. 200-2.
28. The Abduction Enigma, pp. 255-9, 318-22.
29. Franz Hartmann, The Life of Paracelsus and the Substance of his Teachings, San Diego, CA: Wizards Bookshelf, 1985 (1887), pp. 115-6.
30. The Abduction Enigma, pp. 272-3, 290-1, 307-13.
UFOs: Part 4