Thursday, February 27, 2014

AFU annual meeting and premises

On Tuesday February 25 the AFU board gathered for the annual meeting. The most important decision during the meeting was to readopt the foundation bylaws from 1980. The reason for this is explained in the quotation from the Annual Report 2013 below and also the legal problems of changing our name. The AFU board now has the following members: Håkan Blomqvist (chairman), Clas Svahn (vice chairman), Anders Liljegren (treasurer and personnel manager), Leif Åstrand (deputy member).

Board meeting at AFU. From left Håkan Blomqvist, Leif Åstrand, Tobias Lindgren, Carl-Anton Mattson, Clas Svahn, Anders Liljegren

"Donations of very extensive collections of forteana, ancient mysteries, parapsychology, paranormal phenomena, folklore, spiritualism, esoterica and other borderland subjects have for several years initiated a discussion within the board of eventually changing the name of the foundation to present a more accurate description of the wide scope of our collections and work. We wanted to keep our well known acronym AFU but give it a new and more inclusive meaning.

In April the board decided that our new name shall be Archives for the Unexplained. Problems arose when we asked for authorization of the new name from the Östergötland County Administration Board. Changing the name for a foundation proved to be more complicated than we had anticipated and we were also informed that foundation bylaws cannot be altered except under very special circumstances. A decision was taken to readopt the bylaws as originally written in 1980. As of this writing the Östergötland County Administration Board has not finally authorized our new name but we hope to receive an answer in the near future."

Before the board meeting we unpacked the latest donation to AFU, the Sune Hjorth archive, collected by Clas Svahn and Carl-Anton Mattsson as I mentioned in a recent blog entry. Many new contactee, conspiracy and new age books added to the AFU collection and also some very interesting correspondence from a.o. Immanuel Velikovsky.

Part of the Sune Hjorth archive unpacked

On Tuesday nine people from AFU visited a place called Hallarna in Norrköping, an old industrial complex now transformed into a center for cultural activities and organizations. We wanted to inspect the premises as a possible location for the entire AFU collection. Administrator and leader for this project is Pelle Filipsson who guided our group in this large building.

Our guide in Hallarna, Pelle Filipsson

Anders Liljegren studying an exhibition of forbidden books at Hallarna. Perhaps the next exhibition could be Forbidden Science...

Whether it will be possible för AFU to move to this premise is entirely dependent upon the economical situation. A more secure economy is necessary for a move to one large premise. We will continue our discussions with Pelle Filipsson and he will keep us posted on new developments regarding this cultural project.

Clas Svahn in front of a large painting at Hallarna

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Traditionalism and UFOs

The amount of books published today with a UFO theme is staggering and it is almost impossible to keep abreast with all new titles, even for a librarian. I was made aware of this situation when Swedish poet, author and left wing political activist Mohamed Omar told me of a fascinating book published already in 2005, which I had obviously missed. The title is Cracks in the Great Wall. The UFO Phenomenon and Traditional Metaphysics, written by American poet and author Charles Upton, an adherent of the Traditionalist School which has its origin in the French philosopher and mystic René Guénon (1886-1951).

Traditionalism or Perennialism is a metaphysical school that somewhat surprisingly, during the last decades, has attracted many scholars and intellectuals despite its basically antimodernist, radically conservative, pessimistic and gloomy philosophy. In several ways it represents a variation of the back-to-religion movement, but with a mystical outlook, much in common with Hindu Advaita subjectivism. Judging from the book by Charles Upton, when it comes to assessing the UFO phenomenon, traditionalists end up in the same camp as fundamentalist Christians and Anthroposophists: UFOs are demons, forerunners of the Antichrist.

Here are a few relevant quotes:
“The UFO phenomenon constitutes a true postmodern demonology…” (p. 6)
“The UFO phenomenon is perhaps the most sinister complex of beliefs and events to be found among those loosely associated with the New Age.” (p. 9)
“Aliens are members of the Jinn.” (p. 16)
“Father Seraphim Rose, an American-born Eastern Orthodox priest who died in 1982, gives perhaps the best explanation of the UFO phenomenon that we possess: Simply speaking, they are demons.” (p. 9)
“… the present UFO manifestations… are here to prepare us for the religion of the Antichrist.” (p. 23)
“A degenerate taste… bespeaks a wounded soul – either traumatized, and so in need of healing, or deliberately depraved, and so headed for the wrath of God. I only pray that my own decision to write on the subject of UFOs does not indicate the beginnings of a similar depravity in me.” (p. 40)

Reading Cracks in the Great Wall ufologists immediately recognize the dark apocalyptic ideas and visions propounded by former Flying Saucer Review editor Gordon Creighton. He was influenced by Rudolf Steiner´s Anthroposophy and regarded UFO entities as manifestations of the demonic Ahriman, a view obviously shared by many Anthroposophists. A classic example is Flying Saucers. Physical and Spiritual Aspects by Dr. Georg Unger, published already in 1958.

Gordon Creighton, editor of Flying Saucer Review

René Guénon was a spiritual seeker involved in many of the fin de siecle occult underground movements in Paris, including Theosophy. Born a Catholic he later converted to Islam, initiated to Sufism in 1910 by the Swedish painter and author Ivan Aguéli. In two of his books, Theosophy: History of a Pseudo-Religion and The Spiritist Fallacy, Guénon criticized Theosophy and Spiritualism as dangerous and actually Satanic "counter-initiatic" movements: "Behind all these movements (Theosophy, Spiritualism-HB) is there not something more fearsome, of which their leaders perhaps do not themselves know, and of which they are in their own turn merely the instruments?" (Guenon, Theosophy, 2004, p. 272)

Although Traditionalism or Perennialism is often referred to as esoteric it has very little in common with the esoteric tradition of Blavatsky, Bailey or Laurency. Traditionalism is a form of mysticism which becomes very obvious in its simplistic interpretation of the UFO phenomenon and related entities. Esotericism is by its own definition the science of the multiverse, a discipline as exact as any academic subject. This should be obvious to anyone reading The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett or the works of Alice Bailey and Henry T. Laurency. In interpreting paranormal entities and phenomena compare Guénon with the clear and lucid exposition presented by Theosophist Charles Leadbeater in his book The Astral Plane.

An even greater problem with Traditionalism is the ideological link to various political movements of the radical conservative and far right. Theosophy and the esoteric tradition is basically politically left wing and optimistic. "Why is it that so many scholars choose to affiliate themselves with a group that proposes a radical break with modernity?" asks Jacob C. Senholt in his essay Radical Traditionalism and the New Right, published in Esotericism, Religion and Politics (2012). Theosophical scholar Joscelyn Godwin has this to say anent this phenomenon: "It must occur to any objective reader of Evola´s works, as of other Traditionalists like Guénon and Schoun, that for all their nostalgia for authoritarian regimes and theocracies, they enjoyed a freedom of thought and expression that would never have been permitted had they been born into one." (p.50)

In Sweden esotericist and far right activist Lars Adelskogh presents a peculiar mix of Traditionalism and esotericism. He is a proponent of the esoteric tradition as presented by Swedish esotericist Henry T. Laurency and has also translated René Guénons classic The Reign of Quantity & the Signs of the Times into Swedish. But Laurency and Guénon are spiritual opposites. Guénon actually regard the esoteric tradition represented by Laurency as definitely Satanic. Adelskoghs synkretism is like trying to promote the political philosophies of Karl Marx and Edmund Burke on the same website.

In his book Knowledge of Life three, chapter Occult Sects, Henry T. Laurency has some sharp critical comments on the writings of Kurt Almqvist, one of the first Swedish Guenon-inspired Traditionalists: "Kurt Almqvist, Ph.D., published in 1959 a little book entitled Den glömda dimensionen (The Forgotten Dimension). This work is typical of the pseudo-occultism making much of itself in our times. His use of the term “dimension” alone is absurd. His progressionism is faith in the guesswork of ignorance. His definition of “metaphysical” as being “beyond the cosmos” indicates a serious confusion of ideas. His definitions of soul, spirit, intellect, individuality, the ego, the self are utterly misleading. Almqvist has a lot to say about the
metaphysical knowledge he ascribes to the medieval builders’ guilds. In any case they did not possess esoteric knowledge, a fact of which freemasonry is the best demonstration. As for the rest, we are served a rehash of Indian yoga philosophy and Christian mysticism."

Following the Traditionalist School as a ufologist becomes a intellectual backlash á la Gordon Creighton. It is infinetely more stimulating and rewarding, as an alternative working hypothesis, to study the taxonomy of paranormal entities and phenomena in the classic tomes of Blavatsky, Leadbeater, Hodson and Laurency. And you will probably not end up on the far right of the political spectrum.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Rendezvous at the Lilton Hotel

Once every year in January or February the UFO-Sweden board travel to Ängelholm for a board meeting at the small and charming Lilton Hotel. This has been a tradition since 1998. It´s a long journey for most of the members but well worth the trouble because of the excellent lodging and enjoyable get together with both new and old ufologists. For our new chairman, Anders Berglund, this was his first visit to Lilton but he was also full of enthusiasm for this picturesque place.

Anders Berglund at Lilton Hotel

Together with the film crew Kerstin and Michael we were 17 people around the table when the meeting started at 2.30 p.m. We decided that the annual UFO-Sweden meeting and exhibition will take place at Östersund on May 17. There will be a focus on the local sea creature Storsjöodjuret (The Great-Lake Monster) said to inhabit this large lake. The Nessie of Sweden, observations reported for many years.

Our chairman ready for the board meeting

Checking the draft for a new UFO-Sweden website

There will also be a renewed investigation of lake Nammajaure in the north of Sweden, trying to locate the strange missile that landed and sank in the lake in July 1980. For the next year we are planning a detailed investigation of the Kolmården area, north of Norrköping. Going from house to house interviewing and documenting all UFO and paranormal phenomena. During our board meeting we also approved two new UFO-Sweden local representatives, in Karlstad and Vetlanda. And we greeted our new active member, journalist Magnus Gatemark, welcome to the UFO-Sweden gang.

Journalist Magnus Gatemark

Close to 7.00 p.m. we all walked to our favourite restaurant in Ängelholm, Telegrafen. All except journalist Clas Svahn, who had to stay at the hotel watching the musical competition Melodifestivalen, chatting with listeners. During this event decision is made who will represent Sweden at the European Song Contest.

Very focused Clas Svahn getting ready to chat with listeners

Clas chatting and listening to the musical competition

The rest of us were surprised by a very heavy hailstorm on our way to the restaurant. But we arrived safely, although somewhat wet. We all enjoyed an excellent dinner before going back to Clas, who after his work, went for some hamburgers. The rest of the evening, and part of the night, consisted of the usual discussions, planning, anecdotes and jokes in good company.

Johan, Anders and Kerstin at the restaurant

One of the really nice aspects of our UFO-Sweden meetings is exhange of gifts. I collect owl figurines and Clas is an avid collector of stamps with UFO and space themes. We were both happy to receive new samples for our collections.

Some owls for me

New stamps for Clas collection

Saturday, February 8, 2014

A working day at AFU

This Saturday Tobias Lindgren and I decided to try to get som order in the premise housing the UFO-Sweden book depository and exhibition. It´s been in a mess for a long time, functioning as a sort of dumping ground for all kinds of stuff and material belonging to the organization. Tobias Lindgren is head of the UFO-Sweden report centre. One of the first items he found in the depository was the old bag used by field investigators in the 1980s with equipment then deemed necessary for active ufologists. And like a synchcronicity á la Carl Gustav Jung, Tobias´ cellphone rang just as he found the bag. A UFO witness called to report a sighting. The second report this Saturday.

The book depository was in a mess

Tobias with the old UFO-Sweden field investigator kit

Tobias receiving a call from a UFO witness

After several hours of hard work we finally succeeded in creating some basic order in the premise. Now it is possible to enter the depository without stumbling over boxes and various other paraphernalia. But it will take at least a couple of days more work to finish the job. Being an archivist sometimes implies non voluntary body building.

Next to the book depository is the UFO-Sweden inventory for old volumes of the magazine UFO-Aktuellt. So far collectors have a chance to buy all the issues published from 1980 until today. We also have surplus copies of UFO-Information, UFO-Sweden´s former magazine. Just send me an e-mail and I will forward your order to Sven-Olov Svensson at AFU. Many issues are almost sold out so if you are anxious to have a complete collection don´t hesitate to make an order.

Boxes filled with old volumes of UFO-Aktuellt

Tobias with the first two issues of  UFO-Aktuellt, then named UFO-Sverige-Aktuellt

Besides old volumes of UFO-Aktuellt we also have an almost complete inventory of the unique Swedish magazine Sökaren, published between 1964-2008. Sökaren was a magazine of unusual intellectual quality covering subjects like yoga, parapsychology, UFO, philosophy, religion, esotericism, new age, vegetarianism. Editor during all these years was Sven Magnusson (1930-2008). He succeeded in engaging many proficient and well known writers in Sweden allowing both skeptics and believers to state their views.

First issue of Sökaren, published in 1964

For anyone seriously interested in new religious movements, parapsychology, UFO and the spiritual underground milieu in Sweden in the late twentieth century Sökaren is an indispensable source of data. I admire Sven Magnusson for his tenacity in publishing this magazine almost single handed for more than forty years. An remarkable cultural achievement. I was also fortunate in having Sven Magnusson as a good friend and writer collegue. Many of my earlier articles was published in Sökaren. Like myself he was also born in the beautiful city Karlstad.

Sven Magnusson at his home and editor desk in Stockholm 1977

Picture taken during my visit to Sven Magnusson in Karlstad July 4, 1996

When Sven Magnusson died in 2008 he donated a lot of his material to AFU, including his large inventory of old volumes of his magazine. These volumes are now housed together with UFO-Aktuellt and so far most issues are still aviable if you wish to have a complete set of this fascinating magazine.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

AFU - more than UFO

As a young and very enthusiastic ufologist of 20 years, in 1972, I wrote my first editorial in the newsletter of our local UFO group in Södertälje. Although somewhat naive and overly idealistic the editorial is an appeal to study not just UFO reports but many other subjects necessary to understand the scope and depth of the enigma. Here is a short quote from the newsletter: "Studying UFO is not just a hobby or pastime. It is an education. To get a better understanding of the problem you also have to study topics like astronomy, physics, ancient cultures, philosophy, parapsychology a.o.".

Your blogger as a teenage UFO enthusiast, January 1971

This appeal or idea has today taken a very concrete form in the two AFU libraries. One contains basically UFO and Forteana while, what we have named, the Evans Library houses the unique and extensive collection donated by Hilary Evans in 2010. Here you can find religion, philosophy, folklore, psychology, parapsychology, paranormal phenomena, esotericism, spiritualism, secret societies - often old and rare volumes in English, French och German. The collection is a treasure trove for academic students of History of  Religion, Psychology of Religion, History of Ideas, Folklore and many other disciplines. But of course also a valuable library aviable to all Swedish ufologists and Forteans who want unusual data or expand their intellectual horizon. Maybe Hilary Evans had a precognition that his library would one day find its way to Norrköping when he visited AFU in 1996.

Hilary Evans visiting AFU October 7, 1996

I have spent a couple of evenings perusing the shelves in the Evans library. Most of the collection has now been unpacked from the boxes and catalogued by our three ambitious AFU co-workers Ingrid, Katarina and Helena. As a librarian I find it a pure joy to study all the fascinating titles and I decided to take some photographs of the premises and collections so that you blog readers can get a small estimation of this unique collection. Enjoy the show!

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Submarines, UFOs and false flag operations

During the first years of the 1980s there was an intense wave of, what was believed to be, submarine infiltrations of Swedish territorial waters. Hundreds of observations of unknown underwater vessels and activity including unidentified frogmen on land. This resulted in a media hype of unusual strength with political debate and tensions. The cold war became close to hot on October 1-13, 1982 when the Swedish Navy used depth charges and naval mines trying to sink a submarine believed to be trapped in Hårsfjärden, in the Stockholm archipelago. The general view was that the Soviet Union was behind these intrusions. A seemingly logical theory as a Soviet Navy Whiskey-class submarine ran aground, October 27, 1981, on the south coast of Sweden, not more than 10 km from Karlskrona, one of the larger Swedish naval bases. The military authorities urged the public to report all unidentified objects and activity. A small booklet, Våra objudna besökare (Our Unknown Visitors) was published by the Swedish military in October 1983.

The prevalent view during the 1980s was that the submarine incidents were clandestine Soviet operations on Swedish territory. Today this theory has been heavely challenged by several researchers and experts. One of the most outspoken critics has been Ola Tunander, research professor at the Peace Research Institute (PRIO), Oslo, Norway and and expert on naval strategy and psychological operations (PSYOP). In 2004 he published the controversial The Secret War Against Sweden. US and British Submarine Deception in the 1980s. According to Tunander the 1980s submarine incursions were a joint false flag operation by US and British special forces. The object was to portray the Soviet Union as an aggressive superpower: "By masquerading as the perceived enemy, US special forces have been able to manipulate public opinion in order to change the behaviour of governments. This policy option may be the most important alternative to the use of force in democratic countries... In this sense, the operations in Swedish waters, and not least the Hårsfjärden operation, may have been the most successful covert psychological operation of the Cold War." (Tunander, pp. 13-14)

Swedish edition of Tunander´s the Secret War Against Sweden

In his introduction Tunander mention the interesting co-incidence that the Hårsfjärden incursions started less than two weeks after the Social Democratic Party won the parlamentory election. Prime Minister Olof Palme was a democratic socialist who supported socialists like the Sandinistas in Nicaragua. He was an irritant to conservatives like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. "The submarine war totally changed politics in Sweden. It placed the Social Democrats on the defensive and mobilized large parts of the population against the Soviet threat." (Tunander, p. 5) I personally remember the extreme hate campaigns against Olof Palme in the 1980s. Even Swedish mediums and psychics claimed that Palme was a secret Soviet spy. On February 28, 1986 Olof Palme was assassinated in Stockholm.

An interesting fact is that during the beginning of the 1980s there was not only intense underwater activity in Sweden but many intriguing close encounter UFO observations, sometimes in association with supposed submarine incursions. I personally investigated one of these cases that occurred on September 24, 1982. At 10 p.m. fire-fighters Christer Jonsson, Björn Lindh and Håkan Jonsson were on a training mission in a boat in Bråviken, near Norrköping. Radar suddenly indicates underwater activity, the water is foaming and a black circle appears in front of the boat. When they reach the black circle all equipment malfunction and the boat starts spinning of itself. First to the left and then to the right. No submarine is visible but something is obviously deep down in the water. The boat slowly glides out of the black circle and then the instruments starts functioning again.

Norrköpings Tidningar October 8, 1982

At the same time, a few miles further out in Bråviken a man and his wife have anchored their boat at Korsö. The night is clear with no wind. Suddenly a flying object appear slowly gliding above the boat. According to the logbook not more than 100-150 meters above the sea. 10-15 lights are seen in a circle on the object. It disappears to the north towards Kolmården. Was it a co-incidence that these two observations occurred at the same time? In 1981 UFO-Sweden received several UFO reports of objects with lights in a circle, all from Östergötland.

Artist illustration of object observed outside Mjölby March 14, 1981

Another incident from the Östergötland archipelago occurred on August 28, 1982. At 11.30 p.m. Bo Liss and his wife Åsa together with an anonymous witness observe a saucer shaped object at Flatvarp, not far from Loftahammar. They can follow this object for about five minuter doing various manouvres not more than 10 meters above the sea. There is no moonlight and the stars are visible. No sound is heard. The trio observere the object through a binocular and the distance was supposed to be not more than 300 meter. The light from the object was somewhat stronger than moonlight with a green light on top. A circular light was noticed on the sea under the object. Whether this was from a searchlight could not be determined. The group became rather frightened by the incident.

Somewhat imaginative illustration of the Flatvarp incident

So what do we have here? UFOs as part of false flag operations or evidence of a "third force" involved in some form of covert activity? I will take a second look at this third force theory in coming blog entries, especially when it comes to observations of mysterious frogmen.