Monday, August 14, 2017

Otto Viking - Bishop and Ufologist

During the first years of the 1960s Danish ufologist Ole Henningsen paid several visits to Otto Viking (1885-1966) and his wife Anna at their home, Besant Garden, near Nakskov, Denmark. Otto Viking was since 1946 Bishop of the Scandinavian Liberal Catholic Church and an internationally well known Theosophist. His wife, Anna, had worked as a Circus Princess for many years. A rather unusual alliance. But Otto was a rather unusual Bishop as he also had a deep interest in UFO contacts and had written a novel about the covert activities of a secret society of Venusians operating on Earth. It was their common interest in UFOs that was the cause of Ole Henningsen´s visits to Besant Garden. Ole has kindly forwarded some photos from his visit in 1962.

Ole Henningsen

Otto Viking 1962, photo by Ole Henningsen

Anna Viking 1962

Already in 1955 Otto Viking had written an article in Flying Saucer Review (FSR), Flying Saucers and Religion by ”Monseigneur Otto E. Viking” It reflected the ideas and hopes of several Theosophists during these years that highly evolved Venusians were coming to help our planet at a critical period in Earth´s evolution. Otto Viking expressed these ideas in his article: ”If we can be fairly certain that the people coming from other worlds are more evolved than our own humanity, there may still be hope for our survival… It is not unreasonable to suppose, therefore, that a race that has conquered space and speed will, in all probability also have attained this super consciousness, because it will be in the normal order of things. And if this is so, religion may bid our visitors from other worlds a hearty welcome as our saviors from global suicide and inaugurators of a world religion to replace all old ”Tribal” ones, and so make a world peace not only a beautiful dream but a living reality.” (Flying Saucer Review, vol. 1, no. 5, Nov-Dec. 1955, pp. 19-20).

Otto Viking

In these ideas the Theosophists differed from many Antroposophists who regarded and still regard UFO manifestations as demonic, inspired by Ahriman. In his book Flying Saucers. Physical and Spiritual Aspects, Anthroposophist Dr. George Unger writes: ” "True spiritual experiences should come to man in our time but Ahriman is distorting them into pictures of UFOs".  Flying Saucer Review editor Gordon Creighton was heavily influenced by these ideas during the later years of the FSR era. Incidentally, this is also the view shared by many fundamentalist Christians.

Otto Viking travelled all over the world, meeting Theosophists and colleagues in the Liberal Catholic Church. During a lecture in Johannesburg, South Africa, Summer 1959, the well known contactee Elisabeth Klarer was among the audience. In a letter to his friend Ms Edith Nicolaisen, founder of the Swedish new age publishing house Parthenon, Otto Viking told what happened: ”Mrs Klarer attended one of my lectures in Johannesburg and we were introduced by a common friend. We had a long and interesting conversation after the lecture, which Mrs Klarer commended very favorably and, what interested me specifically, she said that ”the philosophy and lifeview you presented in the lecture is entirely in accordance with the Venusians”. Mrs Klarer made a very strong impression of being a totally truthful, reliable and sterling personality whos word I would not doubt.” (Letter July 10, 1959).

Elisabeth Klarer

Already in 1954 Otto Viking had finished the manuscript to his novel En klode griber ind. But he couldn´t find a publisher. Edith Nicolaisen entertained plans to publish a Swedish edition by Parthenon (founded 1957) but these plans never materialized. The book was finally privately printed in 1961, with illustrations by Martin Poser. An English translation, A World Intervenes, was published by Exposition Press, New York 1964 but with no illustrations. This volume is obviously very rare. I bought the last copy from Amazon a couple of years ago and now I only find one copy aviable from AbeBooks.

In the book we can follow the fascinating story of the young Danish couple and peace activists, Ole and Anna, who one day receive a letter suggesting co-operation with another organization. This group claims superior means to prevent the catastrophe threatening civilization. The letter is signed Lami and this individual promise a visit in the near future.

When Lami appear Ole and Anna are told that he is working for a secret organization helping this planet during a critical evolutionary period. They are also told he does not belong to this planet but comes from Venus. The Venusians have followed our evolution for hundreds of years. In the 1940s they were allowed by the inner government of the solar system to establish a colony in Antarctica and actively interfere with our culture because humanity had began using nuclear weapons. Lami offer Ole and Anna to become secret agents for this organization but they must remain absolutely silent about their involvement.

Otto Viking

The work will imply education at the colony. Ole and Anna enlist enthusiastically and Lami explain he will fetch them in his ”vimana” or ”flying saucer”. They must also keep the existence of the colony secret as it is protected with various advanced technology and they wish no interference. In several chapters the education and work with the Venusians is narrated. After many adventures and complications the secret organization succeeds in establishing peace between all nations on Earth.
En klode griber ind was reviewed in the Swedish magazine Graal 1961, edited by Ingrid Nyborg-Fjellander, wife of Sigfrid Fjellander, Bishop in the Swedish Liberal Catholic Church. The couple were close friends to Otto and Anna Viking. In his review Jan Fjellander, activist in UFO and new age groups, wrote: ”If you are aquainted with ufology… one starts to wonder whether this is a novel, if it is only fantasy? From where have Bishop Otto Viking got his ideas? En klode griber ind is written with true intuition and makes you wonder: Is this the truth about the flying saucers?”

During the 1950s and 60s there was a strong overlap in membership between Theosophists and ufologists. Leading Theosophists such as Edward L. Gardner, Boris de Zirkoff, Geoffrey Hodson and N. Sri Ram wrote articles about flying saucers. The Swedish UFO movement was initially founded by members active in the Theosophical Society (Adyar). The history of this connection between ufology and the Esoteric Tradition is still not very well known and should be of interest to scholars of Western Esotericism.