Sunday, March 30, 2014

Round Robin and contactee history

In October 1983 AFU received a large and well-preserved collection of books and magazines donated by Mr. C. O. Holmquist, Rockneby, Sweden. Among the different sets of magazine issues dating back to the 1940s were an almost complete set of Round Robin, volumes 2-34 (1946-1978). Round Robin was edited by Meade Layne, who founded Borderland Sciences Research Association (BSRA) in San Diego 1946. This publication is a unique document and a basic source of data on early UFO contactee history. I have for years been trying to find the missing early issues to make the AFU collection complete but so far no luck.

A few weeks ago I found a very informative article, Newton Meade Layne as Fortean, written by independent scholar and Fortean Joshua Blu Buhs on his blog From an Oblique Angle. Joshu also mentioned that he had found a complete set of Round Robin at the California History Room Section of California State Library. I sent an e-mail to the library requesting information about the possibility of receiving photocopies of volume 1 of Round Robin. On March 10, I was informed by Ms. Katleen Correia that volume 1 of Round Robin contains approximately 230 pages and that the library is "unable to provide such extensive photocopying." She referred to various private researchers who could provide the service for a fee. As AFU is a not very rich non-profit foundation I hope some ufologists or forteans in California could give us some help instead?

There is much interesting historical data on early UFO contactees to be found in the early issues of Round Robin. The San Diego area was something of a cradle for the UFO contact movement. And it all started on October 9, 1946 when hundreds of witnesses observered a UFO over San Diego. In the classic Flying Saucer Have Landed George Adamski present his version of what happened:
"I had never given too much thought to the idea of inter-planetary travel in man-made ships. This subject had never entered my mind until late in 1946. I, too believed the distances between planets to be too great for spanning by mechanical constructions. But during the meteoric shower on 9 October 1946 I actually saw with my naked eyes a gigantic space craft hovering high above the mountain ridge to the south of Mount Palomar, toward San Diego. Yet I did not realise at the time what I was seeing. As many of us will remember, people everywhere were asked to watch the heavens that night and count the numbers of meteors falling per minute.

This we were doing at Palomar Gardens. When, suddenly, after the most intense part of the shower was over and we were about to go indoors, we all noticed high in the sky a large black object, similar in shape to a gigantic dirigible, and apparently motionless. I noticed that no cabin compartment or external appendages were visible, but I figured that during the war some new types of aircraft had been developed and that this was one of them. My calculation was that it was up there to study the falling meteors at that high altitude, so I gave no further thought to it, except to wonder why it was so totally dark. While we were still watching, it pointed its nose upward and quickly shot up into space, leaving a fiery trail behind it which remained visible for a good five minutes.

Still thinking nothing of it, we all returned into the house and turned on the radio to a San Diego station where a newscast was being given. All of us were surprised and incredulous as we listened to the announcer say that a large cigar-shaped space ship had hovered over San Diego during the shower and that hundreds of people had seen and reported it. The description tallied with what we had seen."

Another witness to the San Diego UFO was the remarkable trance medium Mark Probert, who became an important member of the BSRA group. Meade Layne called Probert and suggested he tried to get some information from his contacts regarding the strange object. Probert received the message that the object was interdimensional (etheric) and the people on board had for years been trying to contact and wished to meet a committee of scientists at an isolated spot.

Mark Probert on the front page of Ray Palmer´s Mystic Magazine 1955

This was one of the first claims that UFOs represented aliens from another world. Obviously there was also some contact between George Adamski and the BSRA group, as reported in Round Robin, vol. 8, no. 5, Jan-Feb. 1953, p. 11). On January 3, 1953 Mark Probert and Meade Layne visited the Adamski home at Palomar Gardens and a seance was held. About a dozen people were present, among them George Hunt Williamson: "The discussion concerned the recent landing of a Disc and a brief interview between its occupant and Mr. adamski; also recent radio communication with the Disc people or Guardians."

George Adamski at Palomar Gardens

A study of the early BSRA history and the early issues of Round Robin could give many clues to the beginning of the UFO contact movement. Hopefully AFU will soon obtain a complete set of this unique publication.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

The humanoid that got away

Reviewing the AFU files on Swedish humanoid cases I re-examined the Ivar Naumann report of August 25, 1958. This particular case has always fascinated me because of the unusual and very physical experience of the witness. Ivar Naumann was interviewed in 1972 by Swedish ufologists Anders Wahlström and Jan Lind, who tape-recorded the narrative. Naumann also filled in the UFO-Sweden sighting questionnaire. He was then a 56 year old musician, living in Jönköping.

In the summer of 1958 Ivar Naumann and his wife rented a small cottage at a place called Riset, close to Härja in Västergötland. A few minutes after midnight on August 25 Ivar is sitting alone in the kitchen reading a book. His wife is asleep. "I put the novel away and was about to lit the pipe when I happened to look out the window. I figure was moving towards the outhouse." Ivar assumes it must be the farmer, Oskar, who owns the cottage so he lits the pipe and continue reading. But he has a strong feeling that someone is looking at him. "I turned around and stared straight into a face, not more than 50 centimeters away. Only the window pane separated us. First I thought it was a human being. I had always believed saucers and space people pure imagination.

The figure observed by Ivar Naumann

The figure was very short, like a child of eleven or twelve. The head was covered with a helmet shining with a blue, cold light. It wore a sort of coverall emanating the same blue light. "It was too dark outside for me to notice the skin colour but it was lighter than the helmet and coverall. The eyes appeared somewhat larger than human eyes and were completely black. His gaze had an unexplained effect, it hypnotized me."

Ivar hastily put his clothes on and rush outside. The figure has jumped over a fence and is visible about 100 meters from the cottage. Now a strange chase is taking place where Ivar try to catch up with the unknown intruder. But aftr some running he suddenly finds himself standing in front of a wheat field just gazing. "About 25 meters away a craft was waiting. It was large - about twelve meters - and had the shape of a disc. I felt a peculiar smell and became tired in an unreal way."

Ivar Naumann´s drawing of the craft

The small figure advance towards the craft, climbs up a ladder and disappears inside. Immediately Ivan can hear a buzzing sound like a motor increasing in speed. The three legs under the craft are retracted and it is slowly rising in the air. By know Ivan feels paralyzed and he can´t move at all. Some trees are bending in the wind when the craft accelerates with an enourmous speed and disappears in the sky.When it is gone Ivan can move again and all that is left is a strong smell of ozone.

Back at the cottage Ivan try to tell his wife what has happened but she think he must have had an unusual dream. Next morning Ivan visit the landing site together with the farmer Oskar. They find three deep impressions in the soil with a depth of 30 centimeter and 20 centimeter i diameter. Vegetation was pressed in a circle measuring exactly 12 meters in diameter.

The landing area

This is just one of several hundreds of interesting, and so far, unexplained cases in the AFU report archive. I cannot of course vouch for the authenticity of the case but it is a good example of the type of close encounter reports in the archive I hope the new generation of field investigators will reopen and try follow up, even though many years have passed. Last Saturday UFO-Sweden chairman Anders Berglund visited AFU with this objective in mind. This time to find older reports to present at the UFO-Sweden annual meeting and expo in Östersund, Saturday May 17.

Anders Berglund at AFU studying UFO-reports

Friday, March 21, 2014

Christina, Queen of Sweden and esotericism

One of my responsibilities at Norrköping Public Library is arranging academic lectures, inviting Swedish scholars and authors engaged in current cultural and scientific debate. On March 19 I had the pleasure of introducing Susanna Åkerman, Ph.D. historian of ideas and an expert on Hermeticism and Rosicrucianism. She is the author of Rose Cross Over the Baltic. The Spread of Rosicrucianism in Northern Europe (Brill, 1998). Susanna is librarian at the Swedenborg library, Stockholm. Her latest book, Fenixelden. Drottning Kristina som alkemist (The Phoenix Fire. Queen Christina as alchemist) was also the theme of her lecture in Norrköping.

Susanna Åkerman

The Swedish Queen Christina (1626-1689) created quite a scandal when she abdicated her throne and converted to Roman Catholicism in 1654. She spent her later years in Rome. There has been endless speculation and many theories as to her motives for the conversion. In her new book Susanna Åkerman argues that the real reason for Christinas´ conversion was her deep interest in alchemy and the hermetic tradition. She was an avid collector of esoterica and created a large library in Rome on these subjects.

Susanna Åkerman lecturing at Norrköping Public Library

Susanna Åkerman has done some groundbreaking and innovative research and presents new data on an old enigma. Surprisingly there has been no reviews of Fenixelden in Swedish media. I assume the Swedish media elite and mainstream intellectuals don´t know how to handle the rather iconoclastic theory presented by the author. To review a book like this you must be something of a scholar on esoteric traditions. When reading Fenixelden I immediately associated the ideas with the classic Giordano Bruno and the Hermetic Tradition (1964) by Frances Yates. She asserted that Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake in 1600, not because of his astronomical theories but as a result of his espousing of the Hermetic philosophy. 

The last decades has seen a remarkable renaissance for the scholarly interest in esoteric traditions. The subject is not taboo among academics as it was some years ago. Susanna Åkerman´s book is an example of this growing interest and I hope the next step will be a doctoral thesis on the Theosophical movement in Sweden and its cultural influence. The Swedish King Oscar II (1829-1907) was strongly influenced by Theosophy and invited both Henry Steel Olcott and Annie Besant for audiences at the royal castle. There is a treasure trove of interesting data to be found in research on this forgotten aspect of history.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Stranger in a strange land

Usually I don´t write much of a personal nature on this blog, basically because I find it rather boring and a waste of cyberspace to read about other peoples breakfast habits and latest shopping. But as my blog updates have been somewhat irregular lately I will make an exception and present some news from my personal universe. Recently I joined the Lonely Hearts Club Band as my lady Susanne and I have separated. But we are still good friends. Suddenly landing in the world of singles is to be a Stranger in a Strange Land, alluding to Robert Heinlein´s classic sf novel from 1961. So if there are any nice Venusian ladies out there also stranded on this weird planet…

Another man who probably always experienced himself a Stranger in a Strange Land is the magician and psychic Uri Geller. There has been much debate recently on Geller´s secret intelligence work and connections with CIA and Mossad. Especially after the release in 2013  of the BBC2 documentary The Secret Life of Uri Geller and a book with the same title by Jonathan Margolis. The documentary and book by Margolis opens up a whole new dimension to the Geller enigma. Whatever the truth behind the magic shows, Geller obviously has been involved in much more than spoon bending.

If all the fantastic events in the Margolis book are correct it could change the public image of Uri Geller and give the professional skeptics a hard time. I prefer to keep an open mind as to his psychic abilities. There are a few details in the book I find particularly interesting. As a small boy Uri had an extraordinary experience in a garden in Tel Aviv in 1949 or 1950. He is looking for a kitten in the bushes: "I felt something above me and I looked up and saw a ball of light... It was really weird, like a sphere, but nearer to me, above me. It was just hanging there, shining and strobing, then gently and silently drifted down towards the ground. Then after some moments - I don´t remember how long - something struck me. It was like a beam or a ray of light; it really hit my forehead and knocked me back into the grass." (p. 114-115).

What really happened to the young Uri in the garden? Could he have been connected or "tagged" to some outside force in the same manner as reported by several contactees and close encounter witnesses? A connection resulting in unusual psychic abilities. Uri constantly reiterates he don´t know or understand how he how his abilities work: "This is the big difference between me and many other paranormalists. They think that paranormal powers come from within you, whereas I say that´s possible, but I believe that in my case, it could just possibly be coming from outside, from a thinking entity, and that it is the entity which decides what to do. The fact is that here I am after all these years, and I am still in contact with something." (p. 202). The parapsychological researcher Andrija Puharich who wrote a biography on Geller was convinced that extraterrestrials was behind the phenomena. Later Puharich became involved with another psychic named Phyllis Schlemmer. His far out ideas and experiences were documented by Stuart Holroyd in Briefing for the Landing On Planet Earth, of which I wrote a very critical review in 1979.

It is interesting to compare Uri Geller´s ball of light with the experience of the Indonesian Pak Subuh, founder of the Subud movement: "Pak Subuh explained (in talks to Subud members given beginning in the 1940s) that during 1925 he was taking a late-night walk when he had an unexpected and unusual experience. He said he found himself enveloped in a brilliant light, and looked up to see what seemed like the sun falling directly onto his body, and he thought that he was having a heart attack." Maybe a coincidence but UFO-Sweden´s chairman 1976-1979, Thorvald (Bevan) Berthelsen, was a member of Subud. And the first chairman of the Stockholm based Ifologiska sällskapet 1957, C. A. Liljencrantz was a also active in Subud. Had they all been connected or tagged?

UFO-Sweden chairman Thorvald (Bevan) Berthelsen in 1976

When Uri Geller visited Sweden in 1974 he met several members of the then very active Föreningen för Psykobiofysik (Foundation for Psychobiophysics) who had many unusual experiences during his stay. Some of these and a discussion on Geller were documented in the journal Medium för Psykobiofysik.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Heretic among the heretics

Now and then I am asked, both as a professional librarian and AFU co-worker, to suggest interesting UFO titles suitable for beginners who wish to acquaint themselves with the subject. This is no easy undertaking considering the enormous amount of UFO books published since the 1950s. Naturally I recommend a few Swedish titles but usually I am asked what I personally regard as the best international works in the genre and then always one name comes up – Jacques Vallee. He is a combination of intellectual outsider, iconoclast and heretic among the heretics. I don´t agree with all his views but he makes you think, challenging old theories and ufological dogmas.

Jacques Vallee in the 1960s

Jacques Vallee was also the foremost ideological inspiration when Anders Liljegren, Kjell Jonsson and I founded AFU in 1973. We quoted from Passport To Magonia in the first published information sheet from our group. Besides his many books there are several interviews found on the Internet that can be studied by readers with a serious and scholarly mind. Some of these are referenced on the Wikipedia site. More information can also be found at his personal website.

Vallee can be described as a heretic of the third degree. He is a heretic in the eyes of mainstream science because of his serious interest in phenomena regarded as fantasy and irrational nonsense by most academics and skeptics. He is also in many respects a heretic in the ufological community because of his critical views on the extraterrestrial hypothesis, formulated e.g. in Dimensions. A Casebook of Alien Contact: "... I believe that the UFO phenomenon represents evidence for other dimensions beyond spacetime; the UFOs may not come from ordinary space, but from a multiverse which is all around us, and of which we have stubbornly refused to consider the disturbing reality in spite of the evidence aviable to us for centuries. Such a theory is required in order to explain both the modern cases and the cronicles of Magonia - the abductions and the psychic component." (p. 284).

But Jacques Vallee is also a heretic in a deeper and more philosophical sense because of his lifelong interest in Hermetic and esoteric traditions, an interest he shared with his friend and UFO research collegue astronomer Dr. Allen Hynek (1910-1986). This may come as a surprise to many mainstream or traditional ufologists, especially as Vallee and Hynek are regarded as two of the foremost champions of scientific and critical UFO research. These philosophical interests of the duo has become more well known since the publication of Forbidden Science, Vallees`diaries in two volumes and Jeffrey J. Kripal´s Authors of the Impossible (2010). I devote one chapter in my new book Gudarna återvänder. Ufo och den esoteriska traditionen to the spiritual search of Vallee and Hynek.

Parallell to his academic studies at Sorbonne and Lille, Vallee read all he could find on subjects like Hermeticism, Alchemy, magic, mysticism and esotericism. When he started he ufological career in the 1960s he continued these studies but kept them in the background. It came a quite a surprise to Vallee that his astronomer friend Allen Hynek shared his lifelong interest in Hermeticism and esoteric traditions. During a car journey in November 1966 Vallee asked Hynek if he was interested in paranormal phenomena before he embarked on a career in astronomy. Hynek revealed that he had been a devoted student of Hermetic, Rosicrucian and esoteric traditions all his life, but he never told his collegues: "They would think I´m crazy". With this background the Hynek and Vallee discussions in the classic The Edge of Reality (1975) can be seen in a different perspective. This is not just two eminent scientists examining the UFO enigma but also two erudite scholars of esoteric traditions comparing notes.

In spite of his warnings of the social consequences of irrational contactee cults in Messengers of Deception, Jacques Vallee is in his philosophy and research both the critical scientist and the searching esotericist. In the two volumes of Forbidden Science this becomes very clear. Here are two quotes:
”Has the future spiritual state of man already been achieved by some individuals? Have certain gifted men already achieved contact, on some plane, with those who may be guiding our psychic evolution?” (Forbidden Science, vol I, p. 80).
”…the history of ufology should be placed within an esoteric context. The UFO problem, the question of parapsychology, are central to this business. Looking for the solution isn´t just a scientific project; it´s a quest, an initiation, an enigma like that of the Sphinx…” (Forbidden Science, vol. II, p.211).

Something of a mystery to me is why Jacques Vallee in his studies of Hermeticism and Rosicrucians never considered the vast Theosophical literature, especially as there is a strong historical connection between Theosophy and the UFO movement. After reading the two volumes of Forbidden Science I wrote a letter to Vallee in December 2010 asking for his views. Unfortunately he never answered. But my question is still valid as I formulated it in the letter: "I was somewhat surprised though that you only mention Rosicrucians, Manly P Hall and Steiner´s Anthroposophy but not the Theosophical literature (Blavatsky, Leadbeater) and Alice Bailey who are more directly of interest when it comes to the UFO enigma. Theosophy is actually contact cases without "saucer technology"".

Reading Jacques Vallee is an intellectual adventure and his tomes are must reading for every serious ufologist. I sympathize with his conclusion stated in the foreword to Dimensions. A Casebook of Alien Contact: "They (UFOs) provide one of the most exciting challenges ever presented to science, to our collective imagination, to human reason."

Thursday, March 6, 2014

UFOs and covert activities

First I like to recommend a very interesting and informative article on Meade Layne, founder of Borderland Sciences Research Associates (BSRA) in 1945. The article, Newton Meade Layne as Fortean, is published on the blog From an Oblique Angle, by independent scholar and Fortean Joshua Blu Buhs. He is also the author of Bigfoot. The Life and Times of a Legend (2009). I´ve written several blog entries on Meade Layne and his successor Riley Crabb, two fascinating intellectual outsiders and iconoclasts.

In an earlier blog entry I wrote of UFOs as a possible third force involved in covert activities on this planet. If some UFOs represent an alien technology then there must also be someone behind the technology, whoever they are and wherever they come from. American ufologist Robert Hastings has documented many UFO sightings at American nuclear weapons sites and Carl Feindt presents an comprehensive documentation of UFOs related to submarines and underwater activity.

Robert Hastings

We have also a number of very controversial observations of human looking individuals seemingly connected with the alien technology. During the great wave of unknown underwater activity in Sweden in the 1980s there were also reports of unidentified frogmen. Most of these frogmen were very likely special forces involved in covert military operations. But some reports are intriguing. Swedish ufologist and Fortean Jan-Ove Sundberg documented some of these cases in his book Fantomubåtarna (The Phantom Submarines) (1993).

In September 1982 Torbjörn Danielsson is working at the sawmill Fredriksnäs not far from a place called Gryt in the Östergötland archipelago. A Saab 900 EMS drive up near Torbjörn. Two men ask where they can find the sea. A rather peculiar question as you can see the water from where they have stopped. The two men park the car close to the water and Torbjörn notice a third man dressed in black frogman costume. After a short conversation the frogman disappears in the water and the car with the two men leave with a flying start.

What puzzled Torbjörn was the appearance of the men in the car. He described them as somewhat
dark-skinned, not Swedish looking. Unusually thin eyes and mouth, black hair. Both men had angular faces, looked like twins and dressed in very tidy suits. The spoke perfect Swedish but sounded like newscasters in their way of pronouncing words.

The alien covert activity theme was discussed in an article, Unseen, Unspoken, Unknown, by R. Perry Collins, published in Ivan T. Sanderson´s classic magazine Pursuit vol. 22 no. 1, 1991. Collins mention several cases involving aliens leaving UFOs and entering ordinary cars. "There have been UFO reports that may be directly representative of actions that are not staged, that are not demonstrations and may have not been intended for our perception." A newspaperman from the Miami Herald told Collins of a case involving a man in Miami, Florida. One evening he noticed a large, dark UFO hovering low over a field at the rear of his building. The object began lowering two large cylinders to the ground below. One contained a large Sedan and the other several men dressed in business suits, carrying briefcases. The UFO moved off into the evening sky. The men got into the Sedan and drove off the field, onto a nearby road, and away.

In her recently published, very fascinating book, Encounters With Star People. Untold Stories of American Indians, Dr. Ardy Sixkiller Clarke documents a similar case related by a man name Leland, living near the Nebraska border. He had several times watched a UFO lower automobiles to the ground on his property. "The come at night. they hover over the field. they lower automobiles to the ground. They´re filled with people. The craft goes away and when the car returns the next night, only the driver returns. They take the car and driver onboard their spacecraft and then they´re gone again." Once they had a flat tire and asked for Leland´s help. To be able to fix the tire he motioned to the passengers, men and women, to leave the car: "They weren´t friendly. None of them spoke to me. They acted strange. Like they were scared or they didn´t belong here. The women were wearing those high heels shoes and had trouble walking in them like they had never worn them before... They look like humans but they´re not humans" (pp. 41-42).

These are just a few of the cases I have in my aliens-among-us or alien covert activity file. Puerto Rico ufologist Jorge Martin has also one aliens from car case documented in his book Vieques. Caribbean UFO Cover-Up of the Third Kind (2001). Could some of these cases represent covert activity by some alien third force? It´s very easy to slip into paranoia when investigating this type of close encounter cases. But these controversial observations should be documented and evaluated as thoroughly as ordinary UFO reports.