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 Also included are two old unpublished articles by George Adamski and a history of The Royal Order of Tibet.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.