Saturday, March 21, 2020

Rosemary Decker and Millen Le Poer Trench - Contactees

In a recent blog post I made a summary of the contact experiences of Rosemary Decker, based on her book 35 Minutes to Mars and correspondence with Wendelle Stevens. It became evident to me that Decker was a source of unique quality and inside knowledge of the contactee enigma. A search in the Flying Saucer Review archive at AFU revealed an extensive correspondence between Gordon Creighton and Rosemary Decker, 45 letters written between 1985-2001. Additional, and very fascinating information, was also found in The Alien Gene, authored by Australian ufologist Moira McGhee. These data, if correct, could in fact give us a whole new dimension to the history of the contactee movement.

Moira McGhee was born in the UK and migrated to Australia as a child. She has been researching UFOs for 40 years, a member of BUFORA for 25 years and MUFON State Director for North South Wales, Australia from 1997-2013 when she resigned. Author of The Gosford Files (with Brian Dickeson, 1996), Contact Down Under (2016) and The Alien Gene (2017).  Moira is the founder of Independet Network of UFO Researchers (INUFO) . 25 issues of INUFOR Digest was published between 1997-2004.

Moira McGhee

By combining the data presented in Rosemary Decker´s and Moira McGhee´s books with the Wendelle Stevens and Gordon Creighton correspondence, a very fascinating picture emerges of covert liaison and cooperation with highly advanced, friendly Visitors, involving Rosemary Decker and Millen Le Poer Trench (formerly Millen Cooke, Millen Belknap). Millen was married to British ufologist Brinsley Le Poer Trench 1961-1969. Rosemary and Millen were close friends all their life but also silent contactees. During their lifetime very few knew of their deep involvement with the Visitors.

Millen Le Poer Trench and Rosemary Decker were not only close friends but also in contact with the Visitors before 1952 and heavily involved with George Adamski and his first contact on November 20, 1952. In The Alien Gene Moira McGhee makes some quite stunning revelations concerning Millen, Rosemary and Adamski and what happened in 1952:  
”Recently I have been asking myself just how connected both these friends of mine were with the Visitors? I have been able to gather they had both had personal contacts before 1952. They also knew in advance of Adamski´s meeting in the desert with Orthon, but chose to stay back at Palomar – why? Was Adamski the ´chosen one´ to pass on messages?”
(Moira McGhee, The Alien Gene, p. 47).

Millen Cooke 1943

 ”While Rosemary trusted me enough to confide some details to me, she always kept everything close to her chest… What was of particular interest to me was that Rosemary was already acquainted with all witnesses to the first Adamski-Orthon meeting. She once let it slip that she and her friend Millen were at Mt. Palomar that day, when the group all returned in a state of great excitement. Over the next few weeks Rosemary spoke to each witness, individually and in private, they all confirmed the event and the circumstances.”
(Moira McGhee, The Alien Gene, pp. 35-36)

”I (Rosemary Decker-HB) have spent days, over several years of my life in the early to late 50s, in/at his (George Adamski-HB) open house weekends… He developed a great fear of undercover security agencies, and ignored the warnings and advice given by the Visitors. We were all concerned about his well-being, and grew very worried about his later ego trips and false claims, but he was not reachable by reason.”
(Moira McGhee, The Alien Gene, p. 36)

These remarkable statements open up the possibility that Adamski´s first contact was somehow planned by Millen and Rosemary together with the Visitors, and that Adamski was aware of this plan. It could also explain the rumor that he knew of the contact in advance and and his behavior during the trip to the desert. Later Millen and Rosemary became increasingly concerned about Adamski and how he handled his contacts. Moira McGhee gives this assessment: ”George breached strict limitations he had been given on what he could divulge, such a details of alien technology he had seen, and some of the Visitors´ modus operandi. As time went by, George increasingly embellished the information provided by his contacts with his own opinions and exagerrations. This undermined his credibility.”
(Moira McGhee, The Alien Gene, p. 27).

George Adamski in New Zealand 1959

It is interesting that both Millen and Rosemary were in contact with the same Visitor, whom they named ”D.”.  It was a difficult situation for Rosemary to keep this liaison a secret but she understood it was necessary, as she expressed the situation to Gordon Creighton: 
”Regarding Mars: On that occasion all those years ago (10? – 12)? When you Kindly invited me to tea, I had intended to tell you of my experience, many years previous of meeting a Visitor. You and Eve would have enjoyed it, and of course, it is a part of my heritage I can never publicize. Certainly, any credibility my Mars book might have would be destroyed, were it included. Fortunately, the Mars-based culture is friendly to Earth, we know that not all E.Ts are), (I don´t know if it´s large or small) and its people are our close Kin… Which is what makes it possible for ´Martians´ to walk among us, when they chose. According to Millen (who passed on exactly five years ago) it is not a comfortable experience for them; and our atmosphere too oxygen-rich. But they can cope. And they have helpful devices… I miss Millen sadly, even her last 14 years in Australia, did not bar us from the occasional phone call, and I was able to visit her twice. Since she has gone on Home, there is virtually no-one I can share the special memories with.”
Letter from Rosemary Decker to Gordon Creighton, May 29, 2000.

In August 1988 Rosemary Decker sent a letter to Wendelle Stevens with a small photo of the Visitor ”D” who had contacted Rosemary and Millen. She had received this photo from Millen five or six years ago and now forwarded it to Wendelle Stevens, not to be published, at least not while Rosemary was still alive. Moira McGhee made this comment on ”D”: ”It is apparent from Rosemary´s comments that Millen also had contact or an association with a Visitor, whom they both referred to as ”D” in their correspondence. It became obvious that ”D” was integrated into our society… ”D” had met and interacted with a couple of young university students, who became influential world leaders later on.”
(Moira McGhee, The Alien Gene, p. 45).

The Visitor D, who inspired Rosemary Decker to write 35 Minutes to Mars

Regarding the controversial issue whether the Visitors have organic physical bodies Rosemary Decker made a few interesting notes:
”Of the many, many interesting aspects and incidents reported in The Watchers, I´d like to remark here on at least one (more later): In Betty´s verbal recounting of having been placed in a ”shell” wherein her form was discernible via ”mirrors”, it reminded me at once of the Man met over 30 years ago who, upon departing said that he hoped not to have to use a ”chemical shell” again in order to communicate with some people here; an uncomfortable experience for him, ”something like wading through molasses.” (he had an excellent sense of humor, and occasionally joked). He also at one time mentioned the ”mirroring” effect. This man is so humanoid that, though unusually tall and with other minor differences, (appearance-wise) he would be able to mingle on our streets with no problem. (As I am sure he did). Due to my having to protect my career and that of a close friend who shared several experiences with me, all those years ago, I have kept them to myself – except for a very few trusted people.”
(Excerpt from undated letter to Raymond Fowler quoted in letter to Gordon Creighton, Aug. 9,1990).

Rosemary expanded on this theme in another letter to Gordon Creighton:
"Many years ago, the Visitor informed Millen that there are many races in the galaxy, some of them highly advanced both spiritually and technologically, and other, who are ´emergent´, have reached a fair level technologically, but not all of them ethically and spiritually. The Earth-human is unlike any other race, in its genetic make-up. Although not the ´cream of creation´, humanity has a unique potential: Fully galactic cultures normally are based in the ´etheric´ physical, not the ´chemical´ physical we are part of as Earth humanity. In order to work among us, they convert, adding this 5th component to their natural four: Creative – Intuitive Mind (Holy Spirit in the ’Scriptures), Analytic Mind, Emotion (astral) and stable physical (etheric phys.) Their conversion is temporary, as is that of their space-craft. When space-ships are seen to fade out, inplace, or emerge into visibility, as they often are, it is not usually bending of light-rays for invisibility, but simply conversion. Humanity, partaking of both the Earth-animal nature and the galactic, has the potential to bridge the gap between… ”Once an individual human finds his true position, and begins to fill it Knowingly, he becomes a part of the Bridge…” A Peaceful Communications link… At the conclusion of the present crisis, how much of a remnant of human souls will carry on forward and up on Earth, I don´t know. M´s mentor said he and his group hope there will be enough, so that the collapse will not be total, (as it has sometimes been in the past). Whatever assistance can be offered within permissible bounds – will be.”
Letter from Rosemary Decker to Gordon Creighton, June 1, 2000.

This is a very interesting statement regarding extraterrestrial Visitors as it is actually in accordance with the Esoteric Tradition, which makes the connection with Millen Le Poer Trench appear in a different light. Millen was, beginning in 1930, the disciple of a Tibetan adept as related in her article A Narrative of Occult Experience, published in Round Robin (vol. 4, no. 7, Sept.-Oct. 1948, pp. 3-6). As Millen was also in contact with the Visitors, here is a definite link between the Esoteric Tradition and highly advanced extraterrestrial Visitors. According to Moira McGhee, Millen had worked with Kahlil Gibran, a relative of Dalai Lama and many others. Millen was also the author of one of the most fascinating articles ever written about the Visitors, Son of the Sun, using the pen-name Alexander Blade.

I find it very strange that Rosemary Decker didn´t know or mention that Son of the Sun was actually written by Millen. It was written already in 1946 when Millen was married to occultist John Starr Cooke. This has been known for many years and was revealed already in 1952 by BSRA director Meade Layne, who was a close friend of Millen: ”In the literature of the Disc Visitation one of the most remarkable incidents has been the publication, in Fantastic Stories (actually Fantastic Adventures-HB) for November 1947, of an article entitled Son of the Sun, attributed in the by-line to ”Alexander Blade” (fictitious), but really written by BSR Associate Millen Cooke. Relying on her own intuition and great occult knowledge, she struck straight and truly at the heart of the mystery. So far as we can ascertain, only the BSR Associates and publications valued this achievement at something near its true work.”
Round Robin, vol. 8, no. 2, July-Aug. 1952, p. 17).

How come that Millen obviously didn´t mention to either Rosemary or Moira McGhee that she was the author of Son of the Sun? Was it because it was actually written by her Visitor? Moira states in The Alien Gene that ”Noboby really knows the true identity of the author, but I can hazard a guess.” (p. 254) In a letter to Gordon Creighton, Rosemary wrote: 
”Which brings me to another FSR item – an ”Oldy but Goody” – namely ´Alexander Blade´s´ article Son of the Sun from a very early issue of during Brinsley´s tenure as Editor. In re-reading this I am impressed more than ever by it´s validity , and one could go through it with a running commentary, pointing up the specifics of its Truthfullness. Which is quite a record for an article by an ´unknown´ (A. Blade being a pseudonym), or for any one else, for that matter, since it was in the hands of its original published already in April, 1947, just a bit ahead of Ken Arnold´s renowned sighting.”
(Letter from Rosemary Decker to Gordon Creighton, Aug. 30, 1985.)

Both Rosemary Decker and Millen Le Poer Trench were very much aware of other Visitors, not of the highly advanced and benevolent type. But they were both fortunate to have been involved with and cooperating with a friendly group of visitors. Rosemary commented on this in letters to Gordon Creighton:
”My personal experiences were all so kindly, open, and heart-warming, it is well that my friend and I here were given information that not all beings and humankind from other-where and other-parallel.universes are friendly towards Earth-humans. Later developments (friend left here in 1960) certainly made that evident.”
Letter from Rosemary Decker to Gordon Creighton, Dec. 7, 1993.

”I want to make it clear that I am well aware that not all visitors to Earth are of the best intentions. I do agree with Jacques Vallee that the vast majority of the negatively or doubtfully motivated ones are essentially paraphysical, and most of the beneficient ones as well, come by way of a ´parallell universe´. Some from the ´astral´, some from the ´etheric´. The astral can condense to visibility/palpability, and the etheric can convert to our plane. Some contacted/abducted take years to grasp this"
Letter from Rosemary Decker to Gordon Creighton, June 26, 1996

The Alien Gene by Moira McGhee is a book I highly recommend, especially to those openminded ufologists who are seriously studying the contactee enigma. Of special interest is chapter 3: Rosemary and Millen. Now when many of the old contactees has left the scene we can hopefully find and publish new data to get a better understanding of what actually happened behind the scenes in contactee history. Problems began to appear around 1960 that stopped the Visitors open contacts, but from what I understand they are still here, working covertly. Moira McGhee makes an interesting comment regarding what happened around 1960:
Why most of these Visitors left about 1960 can only be a matter of speculation. Had another alien race arrived, or was our technology now more able to detect them their ships or bases, wherever they were located? … Unfortunately, they have left a vacuum in the human-alien interaction scenario, an opportunity which other, less ethical entities, have been quick to use.”
(Moira McGhee, The Alien Gene, pp. 3-4).

Sunday, March 15, 2020

The IGAP Movement in Sweden

”… the Brothers have suggested that a Get-Acquainted Program be started on Earth. To help in this movement they have suggested that I ask the help of one or more men and women in each nation, people who have proven their interest and sincerity… Those in each locality who have already expressed an interest in our interplanetary visitors are to be made acqainted with one another… Information of the Brothers of other worlds with whom I continue having more or less regular meetings, will be sent regularly to each national leader, who in turn will forward it to all of his assistants. The idea is, that the citizens of each nation, through these efforts, will grow into closer united friendship with their countrymen, without discriminations of divisions of any kind. In time, it is hoped, that these national efforts will overflow into world-wide understanding and friendship.”

This quote is from the letter George Adamski sent out to his co-workers on July 15, 1957. It was the beginning of the International Get Acquainted Program (IGAP), that for several years engaged many Adamski supporters around the globe. From a historical and cultural viewpoint this was an impressive humanitarian project, equaling the Understanding movement, founded by contactee Daniel Fry in 1955. IGAP did result in many international friendships and cooperation but also in disunion and enmity among co-workers, especially was this noticeable in Sweden and Denmark.

In practise IGAP have had two representatives in Sweden, Edith Nicolaisen and Thor-Leif Dahnielson (today Thor-Leif Strindberg). But only Thor-Leif Strindberg was officially recognized as a ”true” IGAP representative. Edith Nicolaisen was always regarded as something of a heretic because of her different interpretation of George Adamski´s space people and her support for other contactees like Daniel Fry.

Miss Edith Nicolaisen (1911-1986) was an exceptional woman, founder of the Swedish new age publishing house Parthenon in July 1957. She was strongly influenced by theosophical and anthroposophical ideas and was a good friend of Theosophist and Danish liberal Catholic Bishop Otto Viking. Edith Nicolaisen began corresponding with George Adamski in 1954 and the first book published in Swedish by Parthenon in October 1957, was Flying Saucers Have Landed by Desmond Leslie and George Adamski. Her second aim was to form as many UFO and new age groups in Sweden as possible. Parthenon published several of the classic contactees of the 1950s: George Adamski, Daniel Fry, Ray and Rex Stanford, Elisabeth Klarer. Edith Nicolaisen corresponded with hundreds of ufologists, contactees, esotericists and new-age activists from around the world between 1950-1986.

Edith Nicolaisen 1962

Edith Nicolaisen first accepted Adamski´s assertion that the space people he met were physical with organic bodies just like us, but in 1958 she began to doubt this claim and instead adhered to the position of Meade Layne and Desmond Leslie, that the space people from Venus, Mars etc. were etheric physical, not normally visible to physical eyes. This was also in accordance with the Esoteric Tradition. She never debated this issue with Adamski but she wrote of her conviction to other correspondents. In an undated letter 1970 to Alice Wells she stated: ”According to my opinion both Rudolf Steiner and George Adamski are right when they maintain: Rudolf Steiner that all other planetarian-life enfoldments in our sunsystem are on an etheric level (physical-etheric levels) and George Adamski that our Brothers manifest on the physical plane and are in physical bodies – right – but their normal plane is etheric-physical.”

This view of the space people became the dividing line in the contactee movement and especially among IGAP representatives. You were not accepted as a genuine IGAP co-worker if you accepted the esoteric interpretation. Even though Edith Nicolaisen had spent years in promoting the books and philosophy of George Adamski in Sweden the leaders of the George Adamski Foundation never really recognized her work and she is, to my knowledge, never listed as an official IGAP representative. The difference in opinion is clearly noted in the correspondence between Edith Nicolaisen and Alice Wells. Up until 1966 Edith always began her letters to Alice with ”Dear fellow New-ager” On June 4, 1966 she received a reply from Alice Wells with this sharp reprimand: ”The New-age movement has nothing to do with George Adamski´s work. His understanding is far beyond what they support.” In spite of Edith heretic views she was mostly tolerated by other IGAP co-workers and she corresponded with Adamski supporters from all over the world.

Alice Wells

In 1965 a young man living in Eksjö, Sweden, Thor-Leif Dahnielson (1949-) had become interested in George Adamski and his philosophy and entered a correspondence with Alice Wells and other co-workers. In a newspaper article, Smålands Folkblad, January 11, 1971 he mention a UFO observation in the Spring of 1965: ”It had the same shape as a discus and glided across the sky. The time was around 9 A.M., says Thor-Leif, who narrates that several others had seen the same phenomenon.”

According to Thor-Leif this observation had a special significance to him: ”George Adamski´s secretary once helped me when I inquired whether she could ask the space people to show themselves over Huskvarna (where I lived at the time), and the same day I received her answer a shining white object glided over the district around Vättern (lake). I observed it together with some friends and according to the newspapers it hade even been observed by the staff at Jönköping Airport. That was enough for me to be convinced of the truth in George Adamski´s words”. (Letter from Thor-Leif Dahnielson to Jan Janson, March 4, 1969). When I recently reminded Thor-Leif about this incident he has no special memory of the occasion. I have not been able to find the newspaper article referred to nor the letter from Alice Wells.

Thor-Leif Dahnielson with girlfriend, Smålands Dagblad, Jan 11, 1971

Thor-Leif soon contacted Edith Nicolaisen and he began working for Parthenon, helping with translations, distribution of information about books etc. When he asked Alice Wells about Parthenon he received some rather derogatory comments: ”Yes, I know of Parthenon, and Edith Nicolaisen, and I don´t have a good feeling about it either. I have a feeling that whatever she receives she uses for her own benefit. She receives the Cosmic Bulletin because she donated towards it. But she wanted the Science of Life lessons and this was refused, for I knew she would translate it without permission, even though they are copyrighted.”
(Letter from Alice Wells to Thor-Leif Dahnielson, Jan. 5, 1966).

An even more unflattering comment on Parthenon was recieved from Danish IGAP representative Air Force Major H.C. Petersen: ”We have never and will never cooperate with Parthenon. We don´t consider Miss Nicolaisen worthy of cooperation, neither has she the ability”.
(Letter from H.C. Petersen to Thor-Leif Dahnielson, January 18, 1966).

In spite of these critical comments from other IGAP co-workers Thor-Leif continued working for Edith Nicolaisen and they also planned to publish a UFO/New Age magazine in Sweden. Thor-Leif was rather enthusiastic about these plans and mentioned the project when he was interviewed in the local newspaper Smålands-Tidningen, November 15, 1968. He hoped this could develop into a permanent employment. But the critical comments about Parthenon from other IGAP co-workers now became obvious in the correspondence: ”I think there is a difference in our estimation of the ”Brother´s” visits to Earth. I believe wholeheartedly in George Adamski which means I absolutely do not believe in Rolf Telano or Fry. But I can be of assistance anyway as the purpose of the work is a better world. Unfortunately the ”saucers” have become something of a ”religion”, which was not the wish of George Adamski.”
(Letter from Thor-Leif Dahnielson to Edith Nicolaisen, October 27, 1968).

Smålands-Tidningen, Nov. 15, 1968

It was probably inevitable that the Dahnielson-Nicolaisen partnership should dissolve when their ideological differences became apparent. In October 1969 Thor-Leif founded the journal Kosmisk Bulletin (Cosmic Bulletin), which in 1970 added the subtitle Svensk IGAP Journal (Swedish IGAP Journal). With the approval of George Adamski Foundation  he now became the official IGAP reprentative of Sweden. Edith Nicolaisen now obviously felt deserted and disregarded as Adamski co-worker: 
”As to the IGAP-center: No one needs to obtain permission anywhere to establish IGAP-centers, as it was the Brothers and Adamski´s  desire that as many centers as possible were established in all parts of the world, but above all a wholehearted  co-operation between all centers. For some years, particularly, during 56/57/58 we were privleged with Adamski´s confidential messages as to his meetings with the Brothers and to their suggestions and advice. Therefore, we were among the first UFO/New Age-centers who got informed about the Brothers´ suggestions to establish IGAP-centers and thus became the first IGAP-center here in Sweden in accordance with the wish of George Adamski and the Brothers.”
(Letter from Edith Nicolaisen to Thor-Leif Dahnielson, February 8, 1970).

Thor-Leif explained that he now intended to publish the ”cosmic-philosophical” literature of George Adamski himself because of Parthenon´s bad reputation: ”I also wish to state that I don´t regard Parthenon as an IGAP center, because within IGAP we definitely dissociate ourselves from the type of fantasy literature published by Parthenon: Borealis, Fry, Anthony Brook etc. It is these type of authors who have caused the greatest damage to the saucer cause.”
(Letter from Thor-Leif Dahnielson to Edith Nicolaisen, February 19, 1970).

Thor-Leif published twelve issues of Kosmisk Bulletin between 1969-1970. The content was a mixture of UFO reports, articles and writings by George Adamski and co-workers. There were also plans to start a UFO reporting center in Sweden. The last issue was published in September 1970. When Thor-Leif moved to another town and entered a new employment he had no time for the magazine. In 1972 he settled with his wife in Nässjö and together with Ernst Wallin founded Nässjö ufologiska sällskap (Nässjö ufological society) and the publishing house Waldia. They published a Swedish edition of George Adamski´s Flying Saucers Farewell (Mot nya horisonter, 1974) and Thor-Leif also published his own book, Sanningen om det övernaturliga (The Truth About the Supernatural). Thor-Leif Dahnielson´s father was a pastor in a local church and the Christian religion became more and more an influence in his life and activities. Interviewed in the local newspaper Tranås Tidning he stated: ”What Jesus said is true in every word. But I do not believe in spirits. What people experience as spirits is an expression of the force that govern the universe… Supernatural experiences come from the subconscious”.
(Interview in Tranås Tidning, February 22, 1974.)

Tranås Tidning, Feb. 22, 1974

Beginning in 1974 Thor-Leif Dahnielson worked as translator for various publishing houses, a.o. Readers Digest. 1975-1979 he studied at Famous Artist School in Holland and has since participated in many exhibitions. In 1980 he changed his name to Thor-Leif Strindberg. Interest in Christianity and theology resulted in the website Bibelfrågan (Bible Questions).

As Thor-Leif Dahnielson (Strindberg) was a prominent exponent of flying saucer reality and George Adamski for several years I was of course interested in his view of the subject today. In an email March 5, 2020 he stated:
”That was a long time ago. I have not been engaged in the UFO-question since the beginning of the 1980s (even though I am of course still interested and read UFO news when I find them), but my attitude is probably the same as before. The UFO phenomenon cannot be dismissed as a physical or psychological ”natural” phenomenon or the result of some earthly technology and then we are forced to consider extraterrestrial visitors. So I still think it is interplanetary visitors as I cannot find any other explanation. Regarding Adamski I have not reflected much upon him during the last 40 years, but I have of course read some articles on the Internet written by persons in his acquaintance or who were in contact with him when everything happened. I still don´t think he was a liar but possibly he himself was deceived  – but by whom and why? I have no idea. That the ”space brothers” he met was no visitors from planets in our solar system is in any case evident.”

Thor-Leif Strindberg in 2009

Being a supporter of George Adamski and IGAP in the 1960s and 70s often resulted in many conflicts and difficult decisions. The organic physical versus etheric physical interpretation is still a hot potato among Adamski supporters. One of the real hardline fundamentalist advocates of the organic physical interpretation was Danish IGAP representative H.C. Petersen as evidenced by this letter:
”Your most important guiding principle should be that Adamski NEVER participated in meetings where other representatives of the UFO cause were present. Adamski was the UFO cause – all others were freeloaders. But you decide yourself.”
(Letter from H.C. Petersen to Thor-Leif Strindberg, June 7, 1970.)

It must have been a difficult and frustrating situation for the idealist Edith Nicolaisen to having been more or less excommunicated by the IGAP leaders. She was more openminded to other contactees experiences and tried to concentrate on the messages of goodwill and spiritual evolution. Unfortunately, during her later years, she became involved in various doomsday prophecies but she did more for the Adamski cause and contactee philosophy than anyone in Sweden. She does have a few points in her last letter to Thor-Leif Danielson:
”Nothing has done greater harm to the Brothers and ”the case for the UFOs” than the lack of Understanding and the BIG ME… Few, - very few of the UFO/IGAP members seem to understand the true meaning of  the IGAP-program as it was meant by the Brothers and their contact-person G.A. – Even many have become sectarian.”
(Letter from Edith Nicolaisen to Thor-Leif Dahnielson, March 2, 1970).

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

UFO-Sweden Memories - Lersäter

From a larger cultural perspective the impact of the UFO phenomenon on society after the Second World War has been tremendous. It has engendered a military, scientific, religious and popular culture response. But first and foremost it has generated a world wide movement of private organizations and groups dedicated to investigating and documenting an unknown and intriguing phenomenon. The history of the UFO movement and the ideas and activities of the diverse personalities involved is for me almost as fascinating as the phenomenon itself. I have been a part of this heretic underground movement since a teenager so it has become sort of homebase. This has also made me aware of the importance of documenting the UFO movement for future generations and researchers.

UFO-Sweden in the middle of the 1970s was a young and from an ideological viewpoint rather unsettled organization. But around 1975 this began to change largerly due to one man, Thorvald Bertelsen, who changed his name to Bevan Bertelsen in 1980. Thorvald was the chairman of the local group Köpings UFO-förening and he and his group in many respects, laid the groundwork and changed the direction of ufology in Sweden to a more serious and scientific endeavor. Thorvald was elected chairman of UFO-Sweden in 1976.

Thorvald Berthelsen entered the ufological scene with a fervent commitment and soon became a leading public figure and spokesperson for the Swedish UFO movement. Together with collegues from Köpings UFO-förening he started a massive information campaign ranging from November 10 to December 15, 1975. During these weeks he lectured in 22 different Swedish cities and travelled more than 200 Swedish miles. In many cities there were hundreds on listeners. A second information campaign was conducted between February 3, and March 23, 1976. As a result many local UFO groups were founded all over Sweden and many of the active ufologists today began their ufological career after hearing a lecture by Thorvald Berthelsen in the 1970s.

Thorvald Bertelsen 1977

In order to improve the quality of investigation Thorvald together with the Köping group started the first weekend seminars for field investigators in September 1977. Since then hundreds of field investigators have received their basic UFO education in the annual seminars. This has helped to improve the quality of investigation and documentation of UFO observations and incidents.

Bertelsen realized the need for better and more qualified field investigation. To realize this ambition the Köping group initiated weekend seminars with education on misinterpretations, psychology, photography and basic field investigation proceedures. Participants were accommodated at Lersäter, a rural estate close to the municipality Kolsva, in the center of Sweden. The estate belonged to the Baptist Union of Sweden and consisted of five rooms with 30 beds.

Ufologists gathered at Lersäter for the first seminar September 24, 1977

Participants in todays field investigation seminars are used to quite luxurious accommodations, a sort of all inclusive with private quarters, excellent dinners and general good service.  Lersäter was very primitive, with severeal bunk beds in the rooms and only two outside dry toilets. Food was prepared at Lersäter by friends of the local UFO group. During the first three years of the 1970s there were between 70-75 participants. With only 30 beds you were lucky to find a bed and people slept on mattresses everywhere on the floor. Getting a good nights sleep under these circumstances was virtually impossible. I participated at the Lersäter seminars 1984, 1992-1995 and remember always being tired during lectures. But most of the ufologists were young and enthusiastic so sleep was a minor problem.

Practical field investigation training September 24, 1977

The first weekend seminar was arranged on September 24-25, 1977, with 73 participants from all over Sweden. Different types of misidentifications was discussed and exemplified. A climax was the evening demonstration of how star shells and parachute lights appear in darkness, demonstated by military personnel. They also flew a small airplane at low altitude over Lersäter showing how landing lights and navigation lights could be identified. Social activities and entertainment became an important part of the seminar already from the beginning. Åke UFO Gustafsson played on various instruments. Press coverage of this first weekend seminar was very good and generally serious.

Åke UFO Gustafsson entertaining September 24, 1977

Bärgslagsbladet September 26, 1977

The UFO-Sweden field investigation seminars were, with a few exceptions, arranged at Lersäter between 1977-1995. Part of the seminar during these years was a practical demonstation of investigating and documenting a UFO landing site. A type of cases now almost totally unheard of. A delicate problem occurred during the seminar September 8-10 1978. The people responsible for the dinner had prepared a homemade Bulgarian lentil soup. But it had a rather unexpected effect on the stomach on the 75 participants who unfortunately only had two outside dry toilets - say no more, say no more. In spite of this little mishap the seminar was a great success with Anders Gernandt, amateur magician and member of the Swedish Parliament demonstrating lots of magic tricks.

Anders Gernandt showing magic tricks September 9, 1978

Vestmanlands Läns tidning September 9, 1978

What is today called the UFO-Sweden spirit began to develop partly as a consequence of the annual field investigator seminars starting in 1977 at Lersäter. These weekend seminars soon also developed into pleasant social gatherings for UFO-Sweden members and the notion of the Lersäter spirit was formulated. The annual field investigator seminars still have a very important social function when it comes to introducing and getting to know new members. 

Carl-Anton Mattsson, Annika och Christer Nordin, seminar August 8-10, 1980

Thorvald Bertelsen, Håkan Ekstrand, Mats Nilsson, seminar late 1970s

The last seminar at Lersäter was arranged Septermber 1-3 1995. It coincided with the UFO-Sweden 25 years anniversary. Many special guests, active during the earlier years, were invited to the dinner, a.o. Thorvald (Bevan) Bertelsen and Christer Nordin (chairman 1980-1988). Clas Svahn, chairman from 1991-2012, proposed a toast for old and new ufologists, hoping for a successful future for UFO-Sweden. Entertainer this evening was as many times before Åke UFO Gustafsson from Tranås. This was the last time the weekend seminar was arranged at Lersäter but many of the UFO-Sweden oldtimers remember this place and seminars with much nostalgia.

Three former UFO-Sweden chairmen at the seminar September 2, 1995, from left Christer Nordin, Clas Svahn, Thorvald Bertelsen

Evening chat at the last Lersäter seminar, from left Jörgen Granlie, Håkan Ekstrand, Tage Bång

Åke UFO Gustafsson entertaining at the last Lersäter seminar

We use to say there is a spirit of place, the special quality associated with a city or rural area. Every group and organization also creates its own, special spirit or Genius loci. The unique and distinctive character of the organization shaped by the ideas, activities and personalities of the members. This also applies to UFO-Sweden. New active members will not only be confronted with magazine articles, Internet discussions and the official ideology but at a more subtle level experience the UFO-Sweden spirit. Much of this spirit was initially formed at Lersäter. I believe this spirit was very well expressed by then newcomer Amanda Fredriksson after having participated in her first annual weekend field investigator seminar in November 2008: "My general impression is that there is so much joy in UFO-Sweden".

Amanda Fredriksson and Clas Svahn at field investigation seminar 2008