IS UFOLOGY A MYSTICISM?
The living language of our common death is coded into any true UFO story. Immortality, and its opposite in us, is invoked at the thought of a beyond or an above: the prairie of the flying disc, the floating orb. And when the craft lands? The craft is alive! But those craft don’t die. They are Spirit. A UFO sighting is an angelic encounter, of course.
Michael Wolf calls them “Living Conveyances,” vehicle-animals, beings, agents, perhaps made of light, which choose, in a fairytale way, their pilots. Their pilots? well, the Greys, of course, the Nordics, the ET-human hybrids. Much of Wolf’s book, The Catchers of Heaven: a Trilogy, is an endorsement of the unabashed spiritual (or, if you like, mystical) dimensions of the ET phenomenon.
A UFO encounter might even be inherently spiritual, as the New Age movement and its children have been saying for decades. Angels, dolphins, Grey aliens (and their various supposed names: Zetas, Reticulians, etc.), elves, fairies—it’s all the same party, and it’s all good.
Lite as this mode of investigation may feel to those more interested in the rigorous, it points toward an alarming metaphysical thought: that humanity is not at the center of anything, but at the surface of something, something which, a few layers deeper, may make manifest things like the beings contactees and abductees have been seeing on this side of the 1940s, or, just as relevantly, the demons and elementals that have been with many cultures for as long as the language to describe such encounters has been available.
It has become cliché, almost boring now, stoned and easy, to call apparently extraterrestrial (or interdimensional, extradimensional, cosmic, on&on) contact religious or mystical—a blank check onto which any hope can inscribe itself and feel at home.
Erich von Däniken’s Ancient Astronaut theory, a meme that has proven resilient enough to survive its own proliferation, exemplifies the ways in which two things, ET contact and historical mystical traditions, are not allowed, in our totalizing moment, to exist in communication or comparison, but must be superimposed over one another and become One Thing.
The AA theory, further channeled through Zechariah Sitchin’s Sumerian/Babylonian Annunaki and Nibiru cyclical apocalypticism, then fermented for a while in YouTube videos and conspiracy forums, found its home on the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens program, now in its 11th season. This codification serves, at least in the conspiratorial worldview, as a means of making the presence of what we call ETs (if only because we need a word for them) particularly something—even if that something is a conflation of these beings with past and present gods. Anything amorphous, which is to say, to some extent free, is to be relegated by materialism to an already-prepared arena of thought, where it is allowed, then, to mutate as much as it likes, so long as it stays within that realm. Ancient Aliens only looks to the past.
Jeffrey J. Kripal, in his new book The Super Natural, co-authored with Whitley Strieber (author of the foundational Communion, which set the tone for hundreds of abductee memoirs to follow), explains the problems of the Ancient Astronaut theory, which he uses as an illustrative example of reductive reasoning in ufology, thusly: “[AA theory] uncritically assumes the truth and completeness of the present Western worldview and so reads all religious phenomena of the past as misinterpretations of what can only be properly understood from the modern Western scientific worldview.”
Both of these concepts feel true—the awed and the cynical. Reading over them now, yes, there is much in common between the Yes and the No. Good, I like it like that. It spins us forward.
Nothing is new about the attempt to find unity in these two modes of ufology— people like astrophysicist Jacques Vallee, author John Keel, and old paranormal pioneer Charles Fort, have been interrogating the subtler dimensions of the unexplained for, well, over a century now. Even Strieber has always been, despite his claim to fame as an abductee in a strictly physical sense, a truly multidisciplinary ufologist. As Kripal, a professor of Comparative Religion, points out in the above-mentioned, coauthored book, Strieber calls his visitors just that—“visitors,” not aliens, though the implication is always there, and the beings themselves make it quite hard to come to any other conclusion without a substantial amount of both knowledge and effort on the part of the contactee. They are comfortable, in the 20th and 21st centuries, assuming the role of the alien. Is this on purpose? Is the alien a new look for an old, old presence? These questions are central to any study of those diverse happenings that have been homogenized as the UFO/ET contact phenomenon.
New Saucerian, a print-on-demand reissue project focusing on making available again out of print classics in ufology, run by Mothman aficionado and John Keel disciple Andy Colvin, has just released a paperback reprint of Michael Wolf’s The Catchers of Heaven: a Trilogy.
I’ll end this with thoughts on that book, a favorite of your present correspondent.
What Michael wants is everything. His book, written in the form of a tell-all from his (fictional? idealized?) position as an ex-NSA/secret government operative, spends much more time attending to the spiritual implications of his almost-daily ET contact than it does with the revelation of UFO-inspired techno-military secrets. Still, for him, these are real, biological entities at the same time. Kolta, the Grey he saves from a murderous FBI agent (I know, I know), and Anon Sa Ra, the human-shaped being of light, a Space Brother, who Michael conceptualizes in his book as his actual brother (yes, the Michael Wolf in the book is, like the Michael Wolf in this world claimed as well, part alien), both exist in ways one would be hard-pressed to put entirely on one side of matter or the other.
This column, Ufoccultic Accounting, now initiated, will be an attempt on the part of your present correspondent to share those bits and pieces of occult and ufological knowledge (including, and privileging, moments of intersection and blending) that “he” has thus far collected from books, online, by intuition, by creation, from life, by chance.
UFOCCULTIC ACCOUNTING is a journal dealing with/in the twin worlds of ufology and occultism, and the little odd realms between intersections. UFOCCULTIC ACCOUNTING is written by Ufoccultist, poet, student, teacher, and book collector, Ben Roylance.