Sunday, January 4, 2015

Books for the new year

Even for a librarian it is almost impossible to keep up to date with new titles, especially for me who try to follow the publishing of books relating to both UFOs and the Esoteric Tradition. Here are a few new acquisitions that I find of interest. First and foremost a book I have been looking forward to read for a long time: Sky People. Untold Stories of Alien Encounters in Mesoamerica by Dr. Ardy Sixkiller Clarke. This is the sequel to her very fascinating Encounters With Star People. Untold Stories of American Indians. A third volume in this series is planned and I predict this trilogy will become a classic in UFO literature.

Between 2003 and 2010 Dr. Clarke travelled through Belize, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico conducting around 100 interviews among indigenous people. The author collected stories of encounters with aliens, sky gods, little people and giants. Because of her unique background as American Indian and a professor emeritus at Montana State University she succeeded in winning the confidence of many local indigenous men and women who related their encounters with UFOs and various entities. One of the witnesses express this sense of confidence: "Occasionally I see someone looking for stories about UFOs, but they do not possess the methods needed to get the local people to talk. You, on the other hand, seem to be able to touch people´s hearts and souls".

Dr. Ardy Sixkiller Clarke is not a field investigating ufologist trying to determine the reality of the various encounters. She has employed the academic scholarly approach usually named the emic perspective. Approaching the witnesses as an insider, simply documenting the narratives not questioning the existence of Sky People or the myths and legends of the indigenous people. The other research method is named etic, or the outsider perspective where the scholar is trying to interpret the encounters and stories within the worldview of the researcher. By using the emic perspective Dr. Clarke has probably succeeded in documenting more unique UFO and alien encounters than if she was a critical ufologist. This touches on the problem of the skeptical movement and its researchers. What close encounter witness would like to be investigated by someone who already "know" that the experience was a misinterpretation or a "myth"?

One of the most expensive books I ever acquried is Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism, edited by Wouter J. Hanegraaff, professor of History of Hermetic Philosophy and Related Currents at the University of Amsterdam. The price is 1446 SEK ($182). It was published by Brill already in 2006 and is an indispensible reference work for academic scholars of Western Esotericism and all serious students of the Esoteric Tradition. This massive tome of 1228 pages has excellent indexes of persons and groups and organizations.

A peculiar omission is that there is no specific entry for Pythagoras, one of the most influential philosophers in the Esoteric Tradition. I have not found any explanation for this omission. Six pages are devoted to UFO traditions, written by Jean-Francois Mayer, University of Fribourg, Switzerland. It has the usual references to Swedenborg, Theosophy, the I Am movement, Aetherius Society and the Raelian Movement. Of the classical contactees only George Adamski and George Van Tassel are mentioned. I am still waiting for scholarly studies of Orfeo Angelucci, Daniel Fry and Howard Menger and their presentation of the Esoteric Tradition as told by the alien visitors. Few religious scholars seems to have discovered this connection. Nor have I found any discussion of the influence of Alice Bailey on the UFO movement.

A book I have still not read is Hitler´s Priestess by the late academic scholar Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke. The book was published already in 1998 and is an important document of the sad misuse of the Esoteric Tradition to promote rascist and neo-nazi ideas. As I have often noted in my blog this is especially tragic as the Esoteric Tradition is basically democratic, anti-rascist, humanistic and politically left-wing. Unfortunately there are groups who use UFOs and esotericism as a front for ringt-wing politics. This book should be studied in connexion with Black Sun, Aryan Cults, Esoteric Nazism and the Politics of Identity, also by Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke. Together they are an excellent antidote against esoteric totalitarinism.