Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Ralph Holland and the Venusians

”Holland was an ET who chose to come to earth by birth through an earth mother, another volunteer from Venus to help uplift benighted mankind.” With this short biographical note Riley Crabb introduce the writings of American medium and UFO contactee Ralph Holland, pen name Rolf Telano (UFOs and the Martyrdom of Frank Scully, p. 8). Although quite well known in UFO history from Meade Layne´s The Coming of the Guardians, his life and channeling work has, to my knowledge, never been thoroughly studied and documented. Based on files in the BSRF and Parthenon archives at AFU I have tried to uncover data giving a more detailed picture of this fascinating contactee from the 1950s. In the BSRF correspondence file there are 28 letters written to and from Holland between March 24, 1951- November 14, 1955.

Ralph Holland at his home in Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio April 1, 1960, photograph by Meade Layne

Ralph Meridette Holland was born August 29, 1899 in Youngtown, Ohio. His family moved to Akron, Ohio in 1914. He received an engineering degree, worked in the plant at the Akron Beacon Journal, and later for B. F. Goodrich Rubber Company. While in Detroit, Michigan he studied journalism and became a freelance reporter, sometimes writing stories under a pen name. In 1932 he moved to Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, employed by Vaughn Machinery Company, where he worked until the time of his death. Ralph Holland never married and lived for many years together with his sister, Miss Dora Holland, at their home at 2520 Fourth Street, Cuyahoga Falls. He was a member of the local Methodist Church. Ralph Holland died of a heart attack January 26, 1962.

In a letter to Meade Layne, May 5, 1952, Holland revealed some of his earlier political activities: ”As you may or may not know, Steinmetz was an ardent Socialist all his life, and I happened to be the same, so long as it was in existence in this country. At various times (and under various names, due to the legal persecution of the Party in its early days) I held positions as State Chairman and State Secretary in three different states (at different times, of course)”. This background may have been one of the reasons why, in his contacts with Meade Layne, he often pointed out that he didn´t want to make any money from his publications or channeling. For many years a member of Borderland Sciences Research Foundation he often donated money to the organization.

An ardent science fiction enthusiast he joined the National Fantasy Fan Federation (N3F) in 1950 and was president from 1958 until his death in 1962. In 1955 he published several issues of his own fanzine The Science Fiction Review and in 1958 compiled Ghu´s Lexicon, a book of fannish terms. There was even a N3F´s Ralph M. Holland Award, named after him. First winner of the award was Juanita Coulson.

Holland became deeply fascinated by the fantastic tales of Richard Shaver. Partly because of his engineering background Holland found the Shaver stories enigmatic: ”Many writers have featured fantastic mechanism in their stories… but Shaver described so many different kinds of mechanism that, to quote the analysis of one professor, he would have to be a master at a dozen different sciences to even imagine them in the detail which he had in his stories. It is at this point that the real ”mystery” comes in… it is utterly impossible that he could have dreamed up his ”mech” in his own head. The question was: where did he get his information? He claims that he got it from his cavern friends.”
(A Voice From The Gallery, no. 28, Spring 1958, p. 1).

In order to study the mystery Holland joined a small group, the Circle Letter Club, circulating letters discussing Shaver. Many members were technicians of some sort. This procedure became too complicated and time consuming so Holland, around 1949, instead started publishing a small bi-monthly newsletter, A Voice From the Gallery. But the zine failed to serve its intended purpose and he continued the newsletter as a sort of personal editorial affair with this policy: ”A Voice From the Gallery is merely the voice of its editor and publisher, and does not represent any organization, group or ”school of thought”. It does not have any idea or theory to sell, and is not attempting to prove anything.” It became a sort of Fortean newsletter covering subjects like paranormal phenomena, Richard Shaver, the Koch Treatment and other alternative medicines, flying saucers, A and H bombs. 28 issues were published until Spring 1958. We have only three issues in the BSRF archives at AFU.

I have not been able to find out when he began channeling or why, probably around 1949-1950. In early 1952 Holland sent his first channeling document, Flying Saucers, to Meade Layne, director of Borderland Sciences Research Foundation (BSRF) and it was published as BSR Release 1-B-52, an 11-page brochure. In later editions of this document Meade Layne made this comment: ”The Intermediary or ”Receiver” of the foregoing material, ”Rolf Telano”, is an electronics engineer by profession and a resident of the Middle West. He has never publicized or exploited his psychic gifts. The above material was received by a kind of inner dictation or clairaudience, with partial control of the hands on the typewriter. I have found no reason, during my near-decade of contact with him, to question his integrity or the authentic nature of the psychism involved.”

In a Round Robin article 1952, The Telano Communications, Ralph Holland made a few comments on his channeling: ”The method of receiving the communications was both mental, and a form of automatic writing. That is, it was written directly on my typewriter, and although I was fully conscious at all times, I often did not know what was going to be set down next. Also, my ”control” used the touch system of typing, and could write as well in the dark as in the light. I myself have never learned the touch system and write by the ”peck and hunt” method. I can receive replies via the pendulum and alphabet card… but do not regard it as being as reliable as other means.”
(Round Robin, vol 8, no 1, May-June 1952, pp. 2).

After this brief introduction Holland gives the rather surprising revelation that one of the communicators, Borealis Telano, is actually his wife ”on the Venusian etheric plane”. She is working as a priestess on Venus. Holland explain that he has ”many hasty memories” of his former life on Venus and ”only a few clear ones”. The people behind the communications is a group of etheric Venusians, who function as interplanetary Guardians. In a letter to Meade Layne, January 21, 1952, Holland present the names of some in the group:
Gerald Peterson, chief of operations of the various craft here.
Ollie Rolson, technical officer
Portia Norton, historian
Mira Peterson, psychologist
Nels Gordon, interplane communications officer
Borealis Telano, priestess

Anyone familiar with the unique and high quality channeling by deep trance medium Mark Probert will immediately notice that the messages received by Holland appears to be a reflection of the teachings given by the Inner Circle, communicating through Mark Probert, and the Richard Shaver stories. Although the worldview and philosophy presented by Holland in several ways is in accordance with the Esoteric Tradition I would suggest the theory that the information comes from his own subconscious, from many years of reading BSRF writings, Richard Shaver and science fiction. He is certainly honest and wrote to a friend: ”I have no special powers or wisdom of my own. I was just the ”stenographer” who wrote down what they said, and the ”messenger boy” who sent it where I was told.”
(Letter from Ralph Holland to Joseph Magenta Feb 23, 1952).

It is interesting to note that the Mark Probert communicators were somewhat doubful regarding the authenticity of the Ralph Holland contacts as evidenced by this quote: ”I see no reason why this communication from your Associate known as Rolf Telano, should not be made public, since a few will profit by it and others will not be harmed. It should, however, be presented with the utmost circumspection.”
”Meade Layne, the Coming of the Guardians, p. 54).

To my knowledge Holland never claimed any physical contact with his Venusian friends nor to have made any UFO observations. He was actually very skeptical about physical UFO contacts and and even regarded George Adamski as a fraud, a position contrary to Meade Layne and the Mark Probert communicators:”For myself, I long ago made up my mind about Adamski” (A Voice From the Gallery, no. 28, Spring 1958, p. 4). Even if Holland was not a naive believer in psychic communication he never seems to have considered a psychological explanation for his own experiences. And he was very critical of another of the BSRF UFO contactees Gerald Light (Dr. Kappa): ”Regarding Dr. Kappa: have you ever considered the possibility of impersonation? Not by him, but by his ”Etherians”. There are many details which does not ”ring true” for an Etherian on any level. You mention that they seem to be ”non-human”, but I get the feeling that they are a very perverted form of human, with a very vicious form of  sadistic insanity.”
(Letter from Ralph Holland to Meade Layne, January 30, 1952).

I do find it a bit surprising that neither Meade Layne nor Riley Crabb ever seems to have considered the possibility of a psychological explanation for the Ralph Holland experiences. They were both erudite esotericists and should have remembered the common sense approach to psychic communications as expressed by the Tibetan to Alice Bailey: ”Messages emanating from the relatively nice, well-trained subconscious nature of the recipient. These well up from the subconscious but are regarded by the recipient as coming from an outside source. Introspective people frequently penetrate into the layer of subconscious recollection and are quite unaware of so doing. Their interest in themselves is so intense. Not knowing that they have done this, they regard what they find as unusual, beautiful and important, and then proceed to formulate it into messages, which they expect their friends and the general public to regard as spiritually based. These messages are normally innocuous, sometimes beautiful, because they are a mixture of what the recipients have read and gathered from the mystical writing or have heard from Christian sources and the Bible. It is really the content of their right thinking along spiritual lines and can do no one any harm, but is of no true importance whatsoever. It accounts, however, for eighty-five percent (85%) of the so-called telepathic or inspired writings so prevalent at this time.” (Alice Bailey, Telepathy and the Etheric Vehicle, pp. 75-76). Ufologists and investigators of paranormal phenomena may be a bit surprised to find that in this respect esotericism actually side with mainstream materialist, reductionist psychology in the general interpretation of channeling.

Meade Layne´s compilation The Coming of the Guardians (first edition 1954) is today a minor classic in UFO literature, published in many editions. This first manuscript, The Flying Saucers, was later (1963) published Gray Barker´s Saucerian Books, with a few additions and an In Memoriam by his sister Mis Dora Holland. In the middle of the 1950s Ralph Holland gave a new manuscript, A Spacewoman Speaks, to Meade Layne. Harriet P. Foster, for many years secretary of BSRF and associate editor of Round Robin, then became a sort of literary agent for Holland and succeeded in getting his MS published by Daniel Fry´s Understanding Publishing Company in 1960. She commented on this project in a letter to Daniel Fry: ”I might mention that one of the main reasons why Ralph wished to remain anonymous was that he had been president for four or five years of an international science-fiction writers club and his association with sf-circles might have imperiled the authenticity of the Spacewoman in the minds of some of his readers. That was why I undertook the task of finding a publisher for the book.”
(Letter from Harriet P. Foster to Daniel Fry, April 10, 1962).

First edition of The Coming of the Guardians

Edith Nicolaisen, founder of the Swedish publishing company Parthenon contacted Harriet Foster and succeeded in getting the publishing rights free ”for the benefit of Parthenon”. Nicolaisen also contacted Miss Dora Holland to get further biographical data on Holland and a photograph. She never received a picture as Ralph´s anonymity was important for Dora. But she did give some interesting biographical data of her brother in a letter June 1, 1964. A Swedish edition of A Spacewoman Speaks (Vänner i universum) was published by Parthenon in 1964.

There are still many unanswered questions regarding Ralph Holland and his life and writings. As he was very much involved in science fiction, Richard Shaver and borderland sciences much data could possible be found in different archives. During his active years he claimed to be corresponding with some 200 people, so correspondence files could possibly be located from many sources.

Saturday, May 25, 2019

George Adamski´s Lost Debut Recovered

Some months ago while perusing old issues of the Theosophical journal The O.E. Library Critic I found, in the March-April 1935 issue, a short note with very scathing remarks about George Adamski and The Royal Order of Tibet. Mention is also made of a booklet by Adamski: The Invisible Ocean. A rare 1932 publication that I was completely unaware of.  In August 2018 ufologist and esotericist Gerard Aartsen also discovered the note in the O.E. Library Critic and succeeded in acquiring a copy of The Invisible Ocean. He has now republished the 1932 booklet together with three chapters on a study of the early Adamski writings. Also included are two old unpublished articles by George Adamski and a history of The Royal Order of Tibet.

There are still many unanswered questions and mysteries regarding the early years and writings of George Adamski. Wisdom of the Masters of the Far East (1936) was republished by Health Research in 1974. The small brochure Satan, Man of the Hour (1937) was included in an updated version in Flying Saucers Farewell (1961). Copies of various early articles have been shared and distributed by members of the George Adamski Foundation, but a worthy project would be the publication of the collected writings of George Adamski with comments and detailed references. In his foreword Gerard Aartsen mention that the collected writings are published in twelve volumes – in Japan.

Gerard Aartsen

In The Invisible Ocean George Adamski makes a summary of the purpose with his writings and projects: The Royal Order of Tibet is for the purpose of establishing the All into One Eternal Life Progress. Its aim is to bring about the best possible conditions for every soul. It presents All inclusive Cosmic Teaching, a scientific and practical Master course of the Universal Message, and a message whereby the individual attains access to mystery in a simplified way.” (p. 23) Although the teaching is often expressed in phrases used in Christian mysticism the content is actually a form a esotericism light or elementary outline of The Ancient Wisdom.

The universe is by George Adamski compared to an ocean with many different strata and states of consciousness where all beings develop an ever increasing expansion of knowledge, understanding and perception in the multiverse. The meaning of life is the evolution of consciousness. This, of course, is the essence of the esoteric worldview. Adamski uses the metaphor of the ocean and the fishes: ”As the master fish passes through the different strata, he will find fish that will appreciate his knowledge and teaching. As it is with the fish, so it is with us, only that we work on different planes of mental vibrations instead of stata of water. The master among us can go down to the depth of the earth and up to the lights of heaven.” (p. 6).

To make the right connection with ”cosmic consciousness” man must understand the power of thoughts, from destructive to constructive, from egoism to altruism. And the path for the pilgrim is ever the same: ”… if the student is to find his place in life he must transmute his selfishness into higher fields of action. This could be done most easily, perhaps by finding channels of service which would be beneficial to many intead of the few. The more one enters into the service of others the less he thinks about himself as a personality.” (p. 37).

In literature and personal correspondence there have been several references to Adamski´s remarkable psychic powers and healing abilities. My late correspondent friend, ufologist Franck Boitte, mentioned one of these instances when meeting George Adamski in 1963. To what extent he could exercise real psychic powers is not known but he does relate a rather fantastic incident in The Invisible Ocean: ”Knowing the law, we can do anything under the sun, no matter what it is. One night, I went to a circle where fourteen people were gathered, and they will all support what I am saying now. I actually brought forth water from out of the atmosphere.”

Franck Boitte

Fourteen pages of Aartsen´s book is devoted to a history of The Royal Order of Tibet 1932-1940. Reproduced in this chapter are several old photographs and newspaper clippings. The most interesting clipping is from Los Angeles Times, April 8, 1934 – Lamaistic Order to Be Established Here. A very cryptic remark is that the international headquarters of the order is located in London. Who was in charge of the this headquaters is not mentioned. Is this article we also find the very controversial statement by Adamski that he was educated a few years in Tibet: ”I learned great truths up there on the roof of the world, says Adamski. Or rather the trick of applying age-old knowledge to daily life, to cure the body and the mind and to win mastery over self and soul. I do not bring to Laguna the weird rites and bestial superstition in which the old lamaism is steeped but the scientific portions of the religion.” (p. 47).

Part of article from Los Angeles Times, April 8, 1934

According to Aartsen this is the only known instance where Adamski himself refers to his training in Tibet. But he actually did mention this schooling in Private Group Lecture For Advanced Thinkers, Detroit, March 4, 1955: ”As I stated before, I am not a Theosophist, a Rosicrucian, nor anything. I did study in Tibet when I was an eight year old boy. I took up Occult Catholicism because my father hoped I would become a priest which I decided against. I have since studied many philosophies and religions, but I didn´t become associated with any one particular religion. I have taken the pearls from each and discarded the chaff.” (p. 3).

I have always been very dubious about this claim of study in Tibet. In 1898, when Adamski was eight years old, Tibet was almost impossible to enter for Westerners. The few who succeeded had either very special contacs or penetrated the country in disguise. Alexandra David-Néel is an interesting example. When Glenn Steckling, director of the George Adamski Foundation visited Sweden in the Autumn of 2018 I asked him about this mystery and received an interesting explanation which in part re-open the Tibetan connection.

With Glenn Steckling at the UFO-Sweden field investigation seminar. October 20, 2018

Here a quote from the interview October 20, 2018:
Håkan Blomqvist (HB): You wrote that he had been six years in Tibet. How could he get to Tibet which was a closed country?

Glenn Steckling (GS): That´s true. How do you think he got there? Who do you think took him?

HB: Well, I guess I know what you imply?

GS: George´s actual story is much more developed and intricate than the public part of it. It was supposed to start earlier but we were in the middle of war. It was decided in the fifties that he was given more information and come out publicly but his personal interaction started already when he was a child.

HB: Was there someone together with him.

GS: This particular school has nothing to do with Tibetan teachings. At that time there was a space base on the Tibetan plateau. Gordon Cooper took two pictures of space ships when he was orbiting Tibet and it was given to George. This particular space base in only by special invitation.

HB: Did his parents know this?

GS: Absolutely, his mother said take him and go. So he spent those years in Tibet in a school of mastery. He was not the only student there.

Glenn Steckling is implying that George Adamski was taken in a space ship to Tibet and that the space people had a base there which was only accessible from the air. This reminds me of what American contactee Trevor James Constable was told by his space contacts: ”The space people state that three dimensional disc-type machines of high performance originate in both Antarctica and Tibet… One might look at the Red Chinese attempts to subjugate Tibet and wonder why this is being done. Do the Chinese know that a high performance type of machine is built or stationed in Tibet, one that will outperform all earthly aircraft as at present known? Such a weapon would be potent in the hands of China´s unscrupulous rulers.” (Trevor James, Spacemen Friends and Foes (1956), part II, p. 6). Also mentioned in They Live in the Sky, pp. 63-64).

Trevor James Constable 1961

In the last three chapters of his book Gerard Aartsen presents a study and comparison of the early Adamski writings with present day scientific theories and the esoteric tradition. Aartsen specifically refers to the theories of Hungarian professor Ervin László and his studies of systems science. Adamski was always very adamant in his assertion that the space people were physical, just like us. But Aartsen does give a few interesting Adamski quotes that could be interpreted differently as this one from The Possibility of Life on Other Planets (1946): ”Even upon planets whos atmosphere is so rare that life seems impossible there may be intelligent forms existing – forms having the power of reason such as we possess, but the actual physical construction may be so fine as to be almost invisible to our sight, limited as it is to this particular plane of manifestation.” (p. 59).

Gerard Aartsen has written several books on UFO contactees and esotericism. The Sea of Consciousnness is an important contribution to our understanding of the early years of George Adamski. It is carefully referenced with an eight-page Adamski bibliography. This work will be of interest not only to ufologists and aficionados of contactee literature but also to academic scholars of Western Esotericism. Gerard Aartsen is to be commended for this excellent effort to share an important historical document.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

UFO Research, Theories and Paradigms

Next year, 2020, UFO-Sweden will celebrate its 50 years anniversary. Our national UFO research organization was founded in April 1970, and is still very much active and growing in membership. An impressive achievement from an international perspective. During these decades there have been many ups and downs, crises and controversies. A seminal event in the history of UFO-Sweden was the annual meeting in 1991. A vocal group of New Age enthusiasts and contactees within the organization wanted UFO-Sweden to promote a neoreligious, New Age ideology. Fortunately the members preferred the critical, but open minded research approach and voted for journalist Clas Svahn as the new chairman. The annual meeting in 1991 became a watershed in the history of UFO-Sweden.

UFO-Sweden annual meeting 1991. From left: Håkan Ekstrand, Clas Svahn, Håkan Blomqvist

Beginning in 1988 a wave of rather extreme New Age-ufology spread rapidly in Sweden. Retired high-school teacher Sune Hjorth promoted the messages of contactee Eduard (Billy) Meier, adding various anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. It was no surprise to learn later that Sune Hjorth had been a member of a Swedish nazi organization in the 1940s. Contactee Sten Lindgren abandoned his work with the UFO reporting and data project (URD) and instead began media appearances and lectures together with another contactee Daniel Glantz. Unfortunately Glantz was heavily involved in drug use combined with a fantasy prone personality, often presenting highly dubious and absurd UFO contact experiences. Former medical doctor Rauni-Leena Luukanen was another UFO contactee that during these years was very much in the media, claiming CIA was behind UFO-Sweden. Well-known Swedish ufologist Bertil Kuhlemann had joined the New Age coterie, advocating various mystical ideologies a.o. The I Am movement, founded by Guy and Edna Ballard.

Sune Hjorth

During the latter part of the 1980s UFO-Sweden was in a rather critical situation. Local units disbanded, membership was at an all time low. There was a general uncertainty about ideology and future of the organization and much internal criticism because of lack of active leadership. In 1988 a prominent Swedish ufologist and author, Boris Jungkvist, abandoned UFO-Sweden and formed a competing national UFO organization, heavily promoting UFOs as interplanetary spacecraft. Many ufologists were in this situation deeply concerned about the future of UFO research in Sweden, including we at the AFU board who tried our best to further serious research, field investigation and documentation.

Boris Jungkvist (right) donated his archive to AFU. Here together with Clas Svahn June 9, 2005

The crescendo and watershed in this development was the UFO-Sweden annual meeting at Rättvik, April 6-7, 1991. The meeting was arranged by Siljansringens UFO-grupp, a local UFO-Sweden unit very much influenced by New Age-ufology. Lectures was delivered by Sten Lindgren and Bertil Kuhlemann. Before the election of a new UFO-Sweden chairman Bertil Kuhlemann pleaded for a female chairman, an evident attempt to stop Clas Svahn from being elected. But a large majority of the assembly voted for Clas. The UFO-Sweden members decided the future fate and ideology of the national organization. Clas Svahn had in an article in the UFO-Sweden magazine UFO-Aktuellt defined the option in no uncertain termes: ”Are we ufologists to be researchers or missionaries?”.

Dala-Demokraten April 4, 1991

Clas Svahn now formulated the new ideological position of UFO-Sweden, labelled the Third Way Ufology: Neither naive belief nor debunking skepticism but an open mind to various theories and claims based on careful field investigation, critical evalution and documentation. UFO-Sweden decided not to promote any specific theory regarding the nature or origin of UFO phenomena, simply stating there is a core of unexplained phenomena deserving further investigation. During these first years of Third Way Ufology the debate between ufologists of the New Age camp and research oriented ufologists was often rather harsh and bitter as it was considered important for UFO-Sweden to give  the new ideology a firm footing and distinctness. But in actual research there are of course no clear demarcation lines between these two factions, all depending upon the favourite theories and paradigms of the ufologists.

Clas Svahn at a UFO-Sweden board meeting October 12, 1996

Readers who have followed my blog for some time may be a bit surprised that I fully endorse the strictly empirical and critical ufology of UFO-Sweden as I personally have advocated a rather controversial theory, the Esoteric Intervention Theory and the worldview or paradigm of Esotericism. But as I have tried to elucidate in serveral blog posts, given an intellectual approach, I find no antagonism in having one foot in empirical science and one foot in esotericism. Once again I would like to refer my research colleague Clas Svahn who many times have reiterated: ”To believe is one thing but to know is something completely different”. The Esoteric Intervention Theory is of course only a theory, that further research may validate or not. And Esotericism is a working hypothesis, worldview or paradigm. Serious research must always be firmly empirical and fact oriented.

If UFO researchers and investigators of paranormal phenomena become too much locked in their own pet theory or paradigm box, scientific and intellectual integrity will suffer. This is one more reason why I think investigators should openly present a position statement regarding their own theories and paradigms, whether they are skeptics or ”believers”, secular humanists, buddhists, catholics, theosophists or whatever. Transparency and honesty in this area makes it easier to evaluate, understand and criticize fellow researchers.  

There is an interesting and rather sensitive dilemma associated with position statements. A problem addressed by Dr. Jean-Michel Abrassart in his essay Paranormal Phenomena: Should Psychology Really Go Beyond the Ontological Debate? Should academic scholars state their own beliefs on the topic they are studying? That is, being honest in regard to religious, esoteric affiliations or adherence to some specific paradigm or worldview? Being open minded in this respect can be detrimental to the academic career and result in a loss of intellectual integrity in the academic community. In spite of this problem Dr. Abrassart advocates the view that an open position statement from scholars is of great importance: ”I think that transparency (stating one´s own beliefs about the subject one is studying) is preferable to staying safely outside the ontological debate… If we can imagine that a committed Christian can legitimately study personal prayer, why not a medium studying mediumship?”

Even though I favor the scientific and critical approach in UFO research every experienced ufologist know that there are aspects of the enigma where science enters Forbidden Science and you are faced with problems that have to be dealt with using the methods and thinking from the intelligence community. This is one of the reasons few scientists wish to enter this heretic subject. The study of UFO phenomena is a complicated multi-disciplinary task with no natural connection to any academic discipline. There are of course academic research on UFOs performed by historians, folklorists, psychologists and historians of religion a.o.. But it is important to understand that these scientists do not address the ontological issue, the basic question of the reality of the phenomena. This requires a different approach and methodology which is not regarded as scientific within these disciplines. Mainstream academic science is intrincically materialist and reductionist and is therefore automatically challenged when confronted with phenomena indicating a multiverse of forces and entities.

Field investigation with the object of determining the reality of UFO phenomena has no natural academic connection. Any academic scholar trying to address to ontological (reality) issue will immediately be questioned by collegues and university administration and face public media ridicule as the strange scholar who believes in little green men. He or she will also be heavily criticized by representatives of the Skeptic community, condemning the heretic for promoting pseudoscience and irrationalism. Few scientists are willing to put their academic career at stake when faced with such obstacles. An Invisible College of critical but open minded researchers affords the best option and protection in such a cultural situation. UFO-Sweden and Archives for the Unexplained (AFU) offer this open minded milieu and have the globally largest amount of data necessary to high quality UFO research.

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Alice A. Bailey - The Unlikely Occultist

How to introduce esotericism as a profound philosophy and tenable worldview to the intellectual, cultural and scientific elite? A somewhat unusual method of handling this issue is writing a novel. When I first discovered The Unlikely Occultist. A Biographical Novel of Alice A. Bailey, written by Australian author Isobel Blackthorn, I felt somewhat apprehensive. Being a student of esotericism for many years I first assumed this was just another sensational potboiler by someone not much versed in the Esoteric Tradition. I was wrong.

In a short author´s note in the beginning of The Unlikely Occultist, Isobel Blackthorn writes: ”This portrait of Alice A. Bailey is based on a deep and prolonged study of her life and teachings.” All this study and research has resulted in a PhD from the University of Western Sydney, Australia. Her thesis The Texts of Alice A. Bailey. An Inquiry Into the Role of Esotericism in Transforming Consciousness (2006) is published under her former name Isobel Wightman and aviable online. Besides this special interest Isobel is a prolific novelist or as she prefer to designate herself, ”author of diverse quality fiction”, but she is also a humanitarian, a campaigner for social justice and a qualified astrologer.

Isobel Blackthorn

As a retired librarian I was immediately charmed by the fact that part of the narrative centers around the ficticious Heather Brown, librarian at the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne, Australia. During an routine inventory of boxes from the late Professor Samantha Foyle she discovers that the boxes comprise a large collection of Esoterica, especially Theosophy and Alice Bailey, a special research interest of Professor Foyle. Out of curiosity Heather begin reading The Unfinished Autobiography of Alice A. Bailey and is immediately hooked, and becomes deeply fascinated by the life of this unusual woman and ”unlikely occultist”. The reader can then follow two parallell stories, the life of Heather Brown coupled with the real life of Alice Bailey as told in her autobiography. The major characters in the novel are based on real people while their personalities and attitudes are more or less fictitious.

Those who have read Alice Bailey´s autobiography recognize the stages in her life: the strict and orthodox Christian upbringing in a wealthy British family, evangelical work in Britain and India, where she met her first husband, a distrastrous marriage resulting in three daughters. The move to America, conversion to Theosophy and finally the founding of The Arcane School in 1923, together with her second husband Foster Bailey. The narrative alters between the lives of Alice and Heather, who becomes more and more obsessed to find out why Alice Bailey, in spite being regarded as the mother of the New Age movement, is now so forgotten and criticized: ”Carl Jung and his intellectual coterie were the last piece in a jigsaw of condemnation… she had been abused by a violent husband, and then vilified and ostracised by purist Theosophists, the Jewish community, fundamentalist Christians, conspiracy theorists and leading scholars in the field of western esotericism.” (p. 295)

Alice Bailey

It is fascinating to follow how Isobel portrays the mindset and moral attitude of Alice Bailey. Not an easy undertaking as the scenes and anecdotes presented may create new myths around a woman already a favourite among conspiracy advocates. Reality and fiction becomes blurred. In the novel Alice is generally presented as a very strict moralist, especially when it comes to sex, nudity and her daughters upbringing. Very much different from her husband Foster: ”He was a perfect companion who held the vision as close to his own heart as she, yet he didn´t share her moral propriety. His was a more fluid, liberal morality…” (p. 140). This is exemplified in a scene at a conference in Ascona, Switzerland where Foster is observed sunbathing in the nude on a raft. For this shocking behavior he is heavily lambasted by Alice, who is very much afraid his act has damaged the reputation of the Arcane School.

Among esotericists a renewed debate has recently come up regarding the possible discipleship of Dag Hammarskjöld. Isobel Blackthorn mention an interesting speech (p. 5), written in the 1970s, by New Age activist Donald Keyes, who was also speechwriter for Secretary-General U Thant in the 1960s and Founder/President of Planetary Citizens. The speech can be found posted online. This quote is of special significance: ”In one of Alice A. Bailey´s books, written in the 1930s, there is a statement that a leading Swedish disciple would soon be working in the world. A high Swedish initiate who was a friend of mine was once asked if the foretold one were he. His answer was ”no, it is Dag Hammarskjöld”.”

I was not aware of this document but Donald Keyes is not the first to refer to Hammarskjöld as disciple. In the writings of Swedish esotericist Henry T. Laurency I have found two quotes referring to this issue, written in the beginning of the 1960s:
”That does not at all mean that they need to be aware of this in their present incarnation. Most often they are not. Neither Franklin Roosevelt, nor Winston Churchill, or Dag Hammarskjöld knew that they were disciples.” (Henry T. Laurency, Knowledge of Life Three, Esoteric Knowledge Orders, p. 8, digital ed.)

”… Mustafa Kemal, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Dag Hammarskjöld (were
unbeknownst to themselves) disciples of the planetary hierarchy.” (Henry T. Laurency, The Way of Man, 9 The Second Self, p. 84, digital ed.)

The actual quote by the Tibetan can be found in Bailey´s A Treatise on White Magic, p. 79: ”… They are aided by a disciple of rare capability in Sweden”.  I have always maintained that this is a reference Henry T. Laurency, who was a disciple of the adept known as Hilarion and Laurency was certainly a ”rare capability”. But of course it may also have been Hammarskjöld. We can only speculate. I do wonder who the ”high Swedish initiate” known by Donald Keyes was? Could it have been Laurency himself?

Article about Henrik von Zeipel (Henry T. Laurency) from the Swedish daily Morgon-Tidningen, July 9, 1947

From an esoteric viewpoint I have found no actual mistakes in the text, with the possible exception of a designation on page 8: ”Heather half expected the Buddha to appear from behind the fresco and greet the Christ standing before the altar, the heads of a spiritual hierarchy of ascenden masters central to Alice Bailey´s occult scheme.” Esotericists should refrain from using the term ”ascended masters” as this will associate Bailey with the I Am-movement and its offshoots. Ascended Masters was a concept advocated by Guy and Edna Ballard of the I Am-movement. The Tibetan is very explicit and critical, referring to the I Am Movement as a "cheap comedy" and travesty of the esoteric tradition. (Alice Bailey, The Rays and the Initiations, p.16).

Although The Unlikely Occultist can be considered as a defense or apology for Alice Bailey and esotericism, Isobel Blackthorn is no naive devotee. Like many critics she has noticed several controversial statements in the Bailey volumes that taken out of context could be used as a pretext for racism, antisemitism and persecution of homosexuals. The problem is that it is often difficult to assess what is Alice Bailey´s personal idiosyncracies and what is actual quotes from the Tibetan. Bailey was a unique amanuensis but heavely influenced by her fundamentalist Christian background. Isobel Blackthorn makes this relevant comment in the novel: ”It appeared she had taken the notions of Christian goodwill and service, and blended them with the Buddhist idea fo right relations. She never left her old faith behind; she dressed it up in new clothes.” (p. 87).

What is Isobel Blackthorn´s present view of Alice Bailey and her work? This quote from Isobel website is from what understand a good summary:
”For too long Alice Bailey has been either maligned or ignored and I think it is time the world knew just how important her body of work and her life’s mission are, influencing healing modalities, psychology, education, the ongoing campaign for world peace and the spiritual ethos at the United Nations. ”

I highly recommend The Unlikely Occultist. I found it intensely captivating and enchanting. This work can actually function as an introduction to studies in the Esoteric Tradition and may even inspire a minor renaissance for Alice Bailey. Esotericists will be delighted by this biographical novel and if you are a librarian or archivist you will just love it.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

UFO Iconography - Letterheads

Besides the collections of books, magazines, photos, correspondence etc. at AFU, we have many documents and items that could be catalogued under the heading UFO iconography: paintings, posters, toys, figurines, t-shirts, stickers, business and membership cards, letterheads etc. When reviewing and organizing various files at AFU I have made it a habit of scanning some of this iconography as it presents a fascinating view of how the image of UFOs and aliens has changed during the decades. As I have scanned thousand of old letters, here are a few letterheads from ufologists and organizations worldwide, mainly from the 1950s and 60s.

One of my favourites is this letterhead from the New York Saucer Information Bureau. They published the magazine UFO-mation in 1958-1959. Co-editor and secretary was C. Lois Jessop, who told of a scary encounter with unknown giants in the Hal Saflini caves in Malta in the mid- 1930s. Her article, Malta, Entrance to the Cavern World, was published in Round Robin, The Journal of Borderland Research, vol 17, no 2, March 1961.

Knut Aasheim was a Norwegian ufologist and contactee. He was the author of Stjernefolket blandt oss – de frivillige og deres misjon 1995, (The Star People Among Us – the Volonteers and Their Mission). Aasheim also lectured for the House of Lords UFO-Group in London 1983. For a few years he headed a group called Interplanetary Cooperation Association – INCA.

Knut Aasheim during a visit to my home at Södertälje, July 29, 1972

Wellknown to the old guard ufologists is this letterhead from Gray Barker. He published The Saucerian, later Saucerian Bulletin between 1953-1962.

This beautiful letterhead was used by British ufologist Brinsley Le Poer Trench in a letter to Edith Nicolaisen, Sweden, November 11, 1960. There is s small mistake in the image of the golden scout craft. The portholes should have been in rows of four.

Brinsley Le Poer Trench

The letterhead from the Italian contactee Eugenio Siragusa 1964 solved the porthole issue by simply not drawing any portholes at all.

The Japanese group Cosmic Brotherhood Association was contactee oriented but chose to have a more neutral letterhead as this one from 1964.

Daniel Fry´s organization Understanding also used a rather neutral but symbolic letterhead. This from 1960, before they moved the headquarters to Merlin, Oregon.

Daniel Fry in Sweden 1970

An imaginative drawing was used as letterhead by the magazine the Hollow Hassle, published by editor Mary LeVesque (Davis) 1973-1986. She headed the organization Hollow Earth Research Association.

This is the letterhead used by one of the oldest UFO groups in Sweden, Malmö interplanetariska sällskap (MIS). They were founded already in 1958 and are still active and members of UFO-Sweden. Director during many years has been Ebbe Johansson, still going strong.

Ebbe Johansson, March 6, 2010

Finally the letterhead I used as chairman of Södertälje UFO-Center, a group I founded in 1970 together with my late friend and AFU colleague Kjell Jonsson.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Edith Nicolaisen and Doomsday Prophecies

A nuclear war will cause the end of the world on April 23, 1990. This was announced in many newspapers around the globe at the time. Behind this prophecy was Elisabeth Clare Prophet or Guru Ma, head of the Church Universal and Triumphant. Members of this New Age church had built a gigantic bunker in Montana, USA, waiting for doomsday. There were doctors, nurses, pilots, technicians, cooks, even a dentist from Finland. They had quit their jobs and sold everything. Millions of dollars were invested in this bunker. When doomsday didn´t arrive many lives were shattered. Twenty years later Elisabeth´s daughter, Erin Prophet, wrote a revealing biography of her life in this group, Prophet´s Daughter, published in 2009.

Part of article about Elisabeth Clare Prophet from Swedish daily Expressen, March 31, 1990

Apocalyptic doomsday prophecies are often reported, coming mainly from fundamentalist or New Age cults, and since the 1950s also from various UFO contactees. As I am presently organizing and reviewing the Parthenon archive at AFU I have found many documents and letters giving the inside view of how deeply affected Edith Nicolaisen, founder of Parthenon, was by doomsday prophecies and ideas. In fact it appears to have been one of her main motivations for the incessant activity and hard work for more than thirty years. This may come as a surprise for many who have regarded Edith as basically a UFO and New Age book publisher. Personally I have been of the opinion that her adherence and interest in prophecies began during the later years but as this letter reveal doomsday ideas was an important part of her worldview already from the start:

”Should you wish further information about the Flying Saucers and interplanetary relations och ´The Disaster worse than the H-Bomb´, prophesied already in 1883 by Madame Blavatsky, and today scientifically proven with the help of gyroscopics and mathematical calculations I will gladly come to Malmö one evening, speaking with you and others interested. It is a matter of life and death involving 4/5 of humanity in our century. Everyone becoming aware of this has no choice but joining the information work with the aim of helping as many people as possible to survive.”
(Letter from Edith Nicolaisen to Arvid Johansson, October 31, 1957).

A fascinating occultist and complicated trickster figure in the annals of UFO history is Dr. Raymond Bernard, born Walter Siegmeister in New York 1901. He is best known for his 1963 volume Flying Saucers From the Earth´s Interior and his many books on health food. After several decades of adventurous life in many countries, setting up colonies for ´natural living´, he finally bought a large tract of property near the town of Joinville on Sao Francisco do Sul Island in southern Brazil. Here he established a company, Santa Catarina Banana Products, selling Banana Sugar, Dehydrated Bananas, Banana Bars and Banana Krumbles. Edith Nicolaisen was interested in the ideas and plans of Bernard and corresponded with him 1963-1965, also ordering some of his bananas. She regarded his settlement as a possible ideal community for Swedish families to escape the coming catastophies, as mentioned in this letter to Dr. Walter Bühler, Brazil.

”From Dr. Raymond Bernard I have received information about his established ´New-Californian´settlement at Barra Velha, Joinville, Santa Catarina, Brazil… Before I recommend our new-age friends here in Sweden and in Germany to buy land at Joinville for the purpose of emigrating and become new-age settlers in the ´World´s Low Fallout Zone´ I should appreciate very much to hear your opinion… Probably, you too have heard about all the fatal prophecies of various sorts, from various sources and from diffrent parts of the Globe – all pointing to the same conclusion: ´It is later than we think´! And that the years 64/65/66/67/68 will be the years of great catastrophies of different origins… I would like to get the opportunity to help as many UFO-friends with children as possible from the Northern part of the Globe to the Southern part in due time.”
(Letter from Edith Nicolaisen to Walter Bühler, February 28, 1965).

Although coming catastrophies was a central idea in the mindset of Edith Nicolaisen doomsday prophecies did not appear in the literature published by Parthenon up until 1967. Instead there was a concentration on the classic UFO contactee books by George Adamski, Daniel Fry, Elisabeth Klarer, Ray and Rex Stanford. But in 1966 Edith had started a correspondence with British artist and spiritualist Liebie Pugh, resulting in the publication of a Swedish edition of her book Nothing Else Matters. The Universal Link (Universell kontakt).

The story behind Universal Link originated from the visionary and paranormal experiences of Richard Grave, Worthing, England. On April 11, 1961, while fixing up a rented house, he encountered a bearded Christlike figure who pointed to a framed picture of the Annunciation. The glass covering the picture exploded and the figure disappeared in an orange light. Later Grave discovered that salty drops formed on the surface of the picture. When media began writing of this phenomenon it was called the Weeping Angel of Worthing.

Richard Grave with the Weeping Angel of Worthing

The bearded visitor, calling himself Truth, returned to Grave on a number of occasions, delivering various messages of a vague and mystical nature. He was not exactly the humble type, referring to himself as ”I am The Truth, The Light, all in The Entire Universe” and ”How happy I am of the progress made in my universe”. Liebie Pugh contacted Richard Grave and together they founded Universal Link. Soon Universal Link groups formed around the world spreading the messages from Truth. Fervent and zealous activity in the groups began after this message from Truth: ”No one can know the day nor the hour of my coming, or when the great Universal Revelation will be enacted; however by Christmas morning, 1967, I will have revealed myself through the medium of nuclear evolution. This is My Plan which is absolute.”

Liebie Pugh at the St. Annes Centre

Even the Danish UFO research group SUFOI became for a while associated with Universal Link. Jørgen Ellesøe and Børje Jensen from SUFOI promoted the messages and Jensen wrote articles in UFO-nyt about Universal Link using the pen name N.E. Wagenda. In 1967 SUFOI published Nothing Else Matters and several Universal Link Newsletters. The situation changed radically when one member of the Danish Universal Link, Knud Weiking, began receiving messages from the Master, now referred to as Orthon. In UFO-nyt no 2, 1967 Børje Jensen concluded: ”Finally there is now evidence that Universal Link and the flying saucers are two sides of the same operation. A Universal Link Center is now founded in Denmark, under the direct supervision of space people.”

Trouble began during the Autumn of 1967 when the Danish Universal Link group announced in the press that the world will end in an atomic war Christmas 1967 and they were building a bunker to save the members from this devastation. When nothing happened at Christmas the group split into different factions.

Article from Swedish daily Sydsvenska Dagbladet about the Danish Doomsday group

In spite of this negative publicity and undeterred by the nonsensical messages from England, Edith Nicolaisen continued to promote Universal Link. But now she received protests from the Danish UFO-groups. Frank Pedersen, editor of UFO-nyt: ”You asked me in the latest letter about my honest opinion about Universal Link. In my opinion this story has been built around a few simple incidents. It is a mixture of ignorance and fraud. Drop this tale, it will only harm the UFO cause.”
(Letter from Frank Pedersen to Edith Nicolaisen March 5, 1968)

A similar protest and warning was sent from the Danish IGAP movement: ”Why have you taken up the cause of the Universal Link program? Don´t you realize that the whole ´Orthon madness´ has its origin in Universal Link? It was the Danish Universal Link group in Borup who started all this mess that wrecked so much of the UFO cause… You may cause more damage than you realize by advocating Universal Link, but it is of course your responsibility.”
(Letter from Leif Eckhoff Pedersen to Edith Nicolaisen February 20, 1968).

These protests did not affect Edith but when she continued to publish a compilation of Universal Link newsletters in 1971 even one of her closest co-workers and translators, Gulli Bergvall, abandoned Parthenon. In her last letter to Edith she stated: ”I had hoped that, at this late stage, you would have abandoned publishing the newsletters (Universal Link newsletters – HB). And I reiterate once again, if I only had had a little spiritual knowledge and insight in 1966 when I was given the task of translating the Universal Link story, I would have flatly refused. The best option now would be to forget the whole thing. I cannot understand what good it will do, in 1971, when so much water has flowed beneath the bridges, to resurrect this thread and return to what happened in St. Annes in the 1960s or with abstruse reasoning try to inject something deeply spiritual in the failed revelation of 1967. To exalt this simple story about ´the master´ (who is no master) and the accompanying rather uninterersting phenomena (the crying angel etc.) to something of spiritual significance is truly offering people stones instead of bread.”
(Letter from Gulli Bergvall to Edith Nicolaisen March 14, 1971.

Edith Nicolaisen 1962

 The Universal Link messages were not the only doomsday prophecies promoted by Edith. She was equally impressed by the prophecies of New Zealand contactee Yul Verner and she had plans to translate his The Book of Yul. The Secret Life of a Space Incarnate. Yul Verner mixed Bible prophecies with messages from his space friends.

”… I was contacted directly in 1963 by spacemen from the Andromeda constellation. It was from them that I positively learned that Jupiter was the Sun of Justice to be glorified `in a short time´, which I take to mean in 12 years, that is from May 1963 + 12 = May 1975. By that time the Earth ought to feel the impact of this event. There could be som astronomical reports beforehand, although we may have other matters on our minds then for the prophesied Great Tribulation is to take place just ahead. This means that time is at hand for a great world crisis to burst suddently upon us. As a matter of fact I have reason to believe there will be an event this November warning us about it. The contact with my space friends also made me certain that I was an incarnate from their planet MICHAEL of the Andromeda constellation. I had prior to this contact made journeys in spirit to other worlds”.
(Letter from Yul Verner to Edith Nicolaisen, August 26, 1973).

One of the foremost donors to Parthenon was Johan Häggström. Because of his economic support Edith were able to translate and publish several books in Swedish. In this letter she refer to the Verner prophecies in the hope of receiving a substantial economic contribution:
”These lines because ´the sand grains in the hourglass´ are running out faster than we earlier anticipated. And that is why we also need the help of Brother Johan to accomplish an effective information work for the benefit of the Swedish youth during the coming four years. Already in 1974 Jupiter may have manifested in our solar system as our ´new sun´ also known as ´The Sun of Justice´. This will alter the balance in our whole solar system and cause the natural catastrophies mentioned in the Bible,.. Already before 1979 our Earth would be ´cleansed´ according to Adam Rutherford, one of the most acknowledged pyramidology experts of our time.”
(Letter from Edith Nicolaisen to Johan Häggström, February 2, 1970).

How come that Edith Nicolaisen, in spite of her many years of university education and wide contacts around the world did not abandon the idea of doomsday prophecies, when they constantly failed? In this respect she is a psychological riddle. These ideas became the Achilles´ heel of Parthenon. Edith often referred to her many years of study of the Esoteric Tradition, which to her essentially meant the mixture of esotericism and Christian mysticism presented by Rudolf Steiner and Max Heindel. If Edith had been better acquainted with Helena Blavatsky and Alice Bailey she would probably not have made these ”glamour” mistakes. Or, she could have simply heeded the warning about doomsday prophecies given by John Keel – ”Belief is the enemy”.