Sunday, July 23, 2017

The José Higgins Close Encounter 1947

During my many years of investigation and documentation of the Richard Höglund contact case I discovered an old close encounter report from Brazil with many similarities to Richard´s first contact with the space people, December 9, 1965. The incident occurred on July 23, 1947 northeast of Pitanga, Brazil. 

Swedish artist Max Magnus Norman´s illustration of Richard Höglund´s close encounter

Here is a short summary of the case:
Hearing a whistling sound, Jose C Higgins, a topographer, saw coming down a lens shaped object with surrounding flange; it landed 150 ft away. It was of gray white metal, about 150 ft in diameter with a 3 foot rim, and 15 ft high, "crossed by tubes in several directions," the whistling coming from these. Metallic legs, which bent a little, supported the craft. Walking closer, he saw through a black glass window 2 persons watching him; a door opened beneath the rim, and there emerged 3 people enveloped in inflated transparent suits, with metal boxes on their backs. They wore shirts and shorts, which looked as though made of paper rather than cloth. Their heads were almost hairless, their eyes round and large, and their legs relatively long; they were nearly 7 ft tall. All 3 looked identical.

They spoke in an unknown language, and he noticed that they kept in the shade except for brief periods. One, pointing a metal tube at him, motioned Higgins to enter the door, through which he could see an inner door and the end of a "pipe." Using gestures, Higgins asked where they came from. One drew on the ground a dot (the sun, "Alamo" in their language) surrounded by 7 circles, and pointed alternately to the seventh circle (called "Orque" Uranus) and to their craft. Not wishing to go there, Higgins showed them a picture of his wife, indicating that he did not want to leave her, and the allowed him to go. From the forest he looked back to see them "playing like children, jumping in the air and throwing enormous stones." After half an hour, having "carefully examined their surroundings," they re-entered and the craft took off.

Especially interesting was that the Brazilian observation occurred already on July 23, 1947. It was first printed on August 8, 1947, in Diario Da Tarde and the Correio Do Norroste, in Bauru. It was rediscovered by journalist Joao Martins and reviewed in the large magazine O Cruzeiro November 13, 1954 with an illustration by the artist Mauro. The report was translated and forwarded to APRO by Brazilian ufologist Olavo T. Fontes. This translation was printed in The APRO Bulletin, May 1961 and also in FlyingSaucer Review vol 7, no. 6, Nov-Dec. 1961.

Part of Joao Martins´article in O Cruzeiro

Unfortunately there was no more data to be found on this case and no follow-up investigation. So beginning in 1991 I decided to search for additional information. After several failed attempts I received a kind reply from American journalist and ufologist Bob Pratt, who had investigated hundreds of UFO incidents in Brazil and other South American countries. He is the author of UFO Danger Zone (1996). Somewhat to my surprise he had never heard of the José Higgins case but gave his view of the story: ”I don´t know how many cases I´ve investigated there, but it´s easily at least 200 and maybe more than 300. And based on some of the stories  I´ve heard, I´m not surprised by what José Higgins reported, nor do I have any doubts that the incident probably occurred as he said. There are several elements in his story that I have heard in other cases – people frightened and running away, the UFO landing in front of the witness, people getting out and talking in an unintelligible language, the sketch in the dirt showing the ”location” of their home planet or whatever, and the occupants playing ”games” as the witness hid in the woods.” (Letter March 30, 1993).

Bob Pratt gave me the adress to two well known Brazilian ufologists, Irene Granchi and Alberto Francisco Do Carmo. In a letter May 11, 1993 Do Carmo made a few comments on the José Higgins encounter: ”Unfortunately, the Higgins case is that kind of good case that got lost in the crowd. I talked to Joao Martins in person and he hardly remembered it. Let me remind you: Joaoa Martins was one of the best reporters in Brazil, worked for ” O Cruzeiro” a magazine as important as LIFE was for the American public… My opinions about O´Higgins case are most of all judgements of value, since I never had the faintest opportunity of meeting the witness in person… He told his story and vanished in the crowd without no newsmedia publicity, lecture tours and alike.”

From Irene Granchi I received som additional information. She phoned her friend Joao Martins who mentioned that this case could be found on page 75 of his book As Chaves Do Misterio. Irene Granchi checked the original article and the book by Martins and made some additions and corrections of the translation. This information is of interest to all researchers so I reproduce this part of her letter.

Here some of the intriguing similarities between the Jose Higgins and Richard Höglund close enounters:
Higgins: ”… he heard a high-pitched, piercing whistling sound, which seemed to come from the sky.”
Höglund: ”Suddenly Lizzi (dog) run around like crazy in circles so that he eventually has to quiet her. Soon afterwards he heard a whining sound that is reminiscent of when artillery pieces fly through the air.”

Higgins: ”… three people came out. They were enclosed in a kind of transparent suit which enveloped their bodies completely, head and all and inflated like a rubber bag full of compressed air.”
Höglund: ”The entities are wholly embedded in clothing similar to plastic covers, fully transparent.”

Higgins: ”They had no beards… almost hairless… they were somehow beautiful and appeared in excellent health”.
Höglund: ”The entities are of medium height and similar to humans but they are completely hairless… The skin is smooth without the slightest blemish.  Likewise, they have perfect teeth.”

Higgins: ”One of the men on the outside carried a tube which appeared to be of the same metal of the ship, which he pointed at Higgins.”
Höglund: ”Then the old man goes back to the spacecraft and float up in the same way as he came down. He returns shortly and then with a cylindrical object that resembles a microphone, about three centimeters in diameter.”

Higgins: ”… they moved with incredible agility, forming a triangle around him.”
Höglund: ”
Then the entities make up a circle around Richard and join hands to show they have friendly intentions.”

Higgins: ”They were playing like children, jumping in the air and throwing stones of enormous size.”
Höglund: ”The entities are very amazed that Richard has hair on his head. They laugh and point at him and obviously find the this quite amusing.”

One of the entities encountered by Richard Höglund

Could Richard Höglund had been informed or read about the Higgins encounter? This is highly unlikely. The story was published in APRO Bulletin and Flying Saucer Review 1961. Richard had very little formal education and no knowledge of English. The similarities between these two close encounters from 1947 and 1965 are certainly fascinating.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The spiritual quest of George Hunt Williamson

The golden era of UFO contactees, the 1950s, is still in many respects an uncharted territory when it comes to serious research and documentation. A pioneering effort was made by Lou Zinsstag and Timothy Good in George Adamski. The Untold Story (1983), followed by New Zealand journalist Tony Brunt´s George Adamski. The Toughest Job in the World (2010). A very interesting biography, Contactee. Was Daniel Fry Telling the Truth?, was published by Sean Donovan in 2013. But still there is no in-depth documentation or biographies of Orfeo Angelucci, George and Dorris Van Tassel, Paul Vest or Howard Menger.

It was therefore with great anticipation when, about a year ago, I received a review copy of The Incredible Life of George Hunt Williamson by Michel Zirger and Maurizio Martinelli. The book is an impressive, 395 pages, documentation based on fifteen years of research and rare archival material, notebooks, correspondence, photos etc, acquired by Michel Zirger. When reading the book I soon realized that reviewing this work was not an easy task. It is not very well organized. There is no linear narrative and the two authors mix events, biographical data and personal theories in various chapters. Eight chapters are written by Zirger and five are from the pen of Martinelli. Another problem was the seemingly uncritical endorsement of the teachings and claims channeled by George Hunt Williamson. In this respect the biography is more like a hagiography. I let the book rest on my shelf but finally decided that this important documentation should be reviewed not just as another UFO book but evaluated also from an esoteric viewpoint.

In UFO history George Hunt Williamson (1926-1986) is perhaps best remembered as one of the six witnesses to George Adamski´s meeting with a Venusian in the California Desert on November 20, 1952. All his life Williamson asserted the veracity of this contact experience as documented with several quotes by the authors. During a lecture in Sao Paolo, Brazil on July 21, 1958 one of the listeners asked him about this event and whether he really observed the cigar-shaped ship over Desert Center: ”The answer is easy, yes! And all other persons present also. It was rather high in the sky, but I was able to observe it for a long time through binoculars. It was a large silvery, metallic-looking cigarr reflecting th sun… And let me anticipate the other question that certainly someone will ask me: yes I did see George Adamski talking in the distance to ”someone” , whom you know now under the name of Orthon… the account of the events made by Adamski in Flying Saucers Have Landed is accurate and true”. (p. 160-161).

George Hunt Williamson 1953

It is reasonable to assume that Williamson´s participation in this historical contact would have resulted in many years of friendship and co-operation with Adamski. But this was not so. As Michel Zirger narrates the association with George Adamski lasted only one month (p. 99). The reason being a difference of opinion regarding the reliability of channeling. Adamski always urged his co-workers not to accept channeled messages indiscriminately: ”You can never check on the sender of a trance message. Every mock spirit or evil impersonator could come and tell you that his name was Ashtar or Aetherius and that he lived in a space ship. I think that these entities are having a heyday leading astray the gullible mediums and their public… This is not to belittle mediums in any way, but it is to say that most of them have much to learn before they can be sure of just what they are receiving, and from whom and where.” (Zinsstag & Good, George Adamski – the Untold Story, pp. 55, 57).

Unfortunately George Hunt Williamson did not heed this wise warning from Adamski but chose a very different path. On November 20, 1953 Williamson met William Dudley Pelley (1890-1965) who from now on became his ”intellectual guide” (p. 204) and ”inspirational master” (p. 313). A very unfortunate choice of ”master”. After an out-of-body experience in 1927 Pelley started channeling various entities via automatic writing. Inspired by Adolf Hitler´s National Socialism and his channeled messages Pelley in 1933 founded the Silver Legion, better known as the Silver Shirts, modelled after Hitler´s Brown Shirts. Because of his politial activities Pelley was charged with high treason and sedition and spent seven years in prison. After release in 1950 Pelley moved to Noblesville, Indiana where he founded Soulcraft Press and the magazine Valor. During four or five month in 1954 Williamson worked as associate editor of Valor magazine and chief of the research laboratories at Soulcraft headquarters.

Proceedings, vol. 2, no. 17, June 15, 1954

In connection with a lecture in Detroit, December 1954, Williamson found ”the second important association” in his life, Dr. Charles Laughead and his wife Lillian. This meeting developed into a long friendship. Together this group held many channeling sessions with Williamson as medium and Lillian Laughead as scribe: ”After putting himself in a meditative trance,George Hunt Williamson served as a channel for various extra or supra-terrestrial entities who expressed themselves through him, each with voices stunningly different from his own. Perhaps the most notable among them was the enigmatic ”Brother Philip”, affiliated to the no less enigmatic ”Monastery of the Seven Rays”, supposedly hidden in the heart of the Andes.” (p. 103). Dr. Charles Laughed and his wife also became involved in the famous failed prophecy of channeler Dorothy Martin (later Sister Thedra) who predicted the end of the world in a great flood on December 21, 1954. The activities of this group were documented in the classic social and psychological study When Prophecy Fails (1956).

Undeterred by this failed prophecy the group continued receiving messages from various ”Ascended Masters” such as Lord Aramu-Muru and ”El Morya”. Because of a message received in 1956 they decided go to Peru to search for The Monastery of the Seven Rays and to establish a new age center The Abbey”, as an outer expression of the master´s work in South America. With this end in view the members of the group sold their property, left their jobs and headed for Peru, George Hunt Williamson and his wife Betty Jane, the Laugheds and Dorothy Martin. The activities and life in this monastic community established by the group is very well documented by authors Zirger and Martinelli. Much of what happened during the years 1956-1958 has not been known in such detail before. Betty Jane died on August 11, 1958 and Williamson was forced to return to Arizona. The Abbey was then for a while headed by Dorothy Martin or John McCoy.

George Hunt Williamson wrote several books in the 1950s that today are minor underground classics, such as The Saucers Speak (1954), Other Tongues – Other Flesh (1957) and UFOs Confidential (1958), co-authored with his friend John McCoy. His last book written using the old name was Road in the Sky, published in 1959. When Williamson disappeared from the contactee scene in 1961 there was much speculation of what had happened. In 1960 he legally changed his name to Michel d´Obrenovic and claimed to be a descendant of Yugoslavia´s royal family. The last book from Williamson, Secret of the Andes (1961), was written under the pseudonym Brother Philip. Between 1961-1986 few ufologists knew of his activities. In chapter 4, The ”Hidden Years” of Williamson, Michel Zirger has made a commendable effort in documenting what transpired during these years. Always a religious man George Hunt Williamson was ordained a priest in the ”Orthodox Christian Church” and settled in Santa Barbara, California.

As already noted reviewing this book is no easy undertaking. There is an immense amount of research work involved with lots of never before published facts and documents of great value to all researchers, whether ufologists or academic scholars. More problematic is the authors uncritical acceptance of the channeled messages by Williamson, Dorothy Martin (Sister Thedra) and others in the group. Maurizio Martinelli does make some reservations in his Introduction when discussing ”the ultimate source of the various types of messages which Williamson had received… themes that must be approached with great caution” (p. 37).

Unfortunately no such caution or critical discussion can be found in the book. And this is the weak part of this otherwise pioneering work. Any accomplished or erudite esotericist reading the channeled messages of Williamson or Dorothy Martin will immediately notice that this is either astral entities masquerading as ”ascended masters” etc or information coming from the subconscious mind of the channelers. A mixture of Theosophy, spiritualism and mysticism. This is the most common mistake made by students of esotericism – lack of discrimination. The books and channeled messages by George Hunt Williamson is a curious mixture of mysticism and genuine esotericism (the science of the multiverse). John McCoy appears to be the one in the group best aquainted with the more academic Esoteric Tradition, mentioning Blavatsky and Alice Bailey in part II of UFOs Confidential, co-authored with Williamson.

Brother Philip and the Monastery of the Seven Rays are most certainly pure fiction. But these myths have had the unfortunate result that South America is now plagued with various cult groups. According to a report  in the London newspaper The Guardian, November 15, 1986 there are hundreds of new age sects in Peru and Bolivia. An interesting question is whether there could be a real ”safe retreat” or ”protected area” used by the Planetary Guardians in the Andes?

On January 27, 1984 I received a letter from American esotericist Dane Rudhyar regarding a question I had asked about the mystic Brown Landone (one of George Hunt Williamson´s sources): ”I regret to say that I have at present no printed material from Brown Landone, who I never met. I only read many years ago an article or two he had written about the transfer of some of the great planetary Beings from Tibet to the Andes. Apparently they were expecting the Chinese conquest and possibly some other changes not yet experienced as yet. Landon´s assertions were confirmed to me by a person I was close to and who has passed away many years ago, but who should have known at least the basic facts.” There is also an interesting reference in the remarkable work Through the Curtain by Viola Petitt Neal and Shafica Karagulla. Regarding a center in the Andes mountains Viola Petitt Neal is informed by her teacher during a Night Class December 10, 1961: ”… there is a center there where people live. I don´t know anything about it, but there are people in it.” (p. 261). 

The Incredible Life of George Hunt Williamson is a book I can recommend to all serious UFO investigators, in spite of my somewhat critical remarks. It contains a treasure trove of rare and hitherto unknown information about the contactee movement of the 1950s and unique insights into the life of one of the key figures in UFO history.