The Unexplained and the Unimaginable
Charles Fort – that first scribe of the forbidden – stated in his works “something, somewhere, asserts a legal right to this earth.” At best, the human race was the tenant of an unknown landlord, uncertain of the terms of the lease or when rent was due; at worse, our world was a hunting preserve for an uncaring suzerain.
Another man entertained similar notions, but his name and writings have slipped into obscurity.
Aside from the odd television documentary on the enigmatic case, few remember the story of Donald Crowhurst, the man who endeavored to sail around the world as part of a trimaran regatta sponsored by the Sunday Times, but who suffered a nervous breakdown during the challenge, as evidence suggests. Whether Crowhurst was trying to cheat his way to a victory, or whether he committed suicide, are matters beyond the purview of this article. What concerns us here is the twenty-five thousand-word document he drafted during his one-man odyssey, dismissed by many as the rantings of a madman. But a paragraph of his meditations stands out:
“God and his Son played at the heart of the Cosmos. He was the Father in all of his perfection, and his Son was likewise perfect. They played a lovely game that consisted of transforming apes into gods. It was a fun game, and all the while they played, they followed a simple rule: the apes were not allowed to know about the existence of the gods...”
Was Crowhurst insane or gifted with a burst of enlightenment? The words of a mariner who vanished in the summer of 1969 serve as a fitting preamble to this article. A technified, mechanized humanity seeks an answer to the paranormal in the shape of interplanetary beings in fanciful spaceships powered by bewildering elements, when the riddle’s solution may have been with us all along. We are the apes, slowly becoming aware of the invisible hands puling the strings.
In an interview with Spain’s El Ojo Crítico, Freixedo was asked his opinion about the miraculous apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary at El Escorial in the 1980s and early ‘90s. “It was just another game of the gods,” he replied before breaking into his story. On one occasion, he’d visited the site where the religious phenomenon was taking place to meet with Amparo, the seeress at the center of the manifestations. It so happened that two saffron-robed Buddhist monks had also been brought along to pay their respects to the holy site.
“There we all were,” Freixedo continued, “when the Virgin appeared to the fragrance of roses and all that. And when it was over, everyone rushed to see the two Buddhist monks to see if the apparition miracle had succeeded in converting them to Catholicism. But no, the monks calmy replied that it was just a manifestation by the Devas. In their religion they have the Devas and the Ashuras, in the same way that we have angels, Muslims have the djinn and such. It’s all the same.”
Vedic tradition gives us the supernatural and beneficent Devas, whose existence is invisible to humans yet share the human characteristics of being doomed to an endless cycle of birth, maturation, death and reincarnation. The word to describe these entities comes from the Sanskrit term that means "beings of light" or "glowing ones". Living in a dimension adjacent to our own, the purpose of these etheric presences is to keep the physical universe which we inhabit running smoothly--roughly akin to a maintenance department, out of sight but ever present. The Devas are assigned to three distinct environments: the heavens, the upper atmosphere and the earth, and have control over the lesser nature spirits which exist in everything from clouds to trees to rocks.
However, Persian Zoroastrianism did not share such a sanguine view of these entities. The Devas became known as Daivas and were associated with the forces of evil--the semidivine creatures that chose the path of druj (untruth) over the path of asha (truth). Zoroastrian teachings and the Vedas agree that this order of non-human creatures is often at war with another order of beings, and that their struggles often spill over into the mortal world.
The Persian Empire under the Achaemenid Dynasty was one of the largest land empires of antiquity. Stretching from Macedonia to the Punjab and from Uzbekistan to Egypt, the Persians managed a far-flung realm that included most of the civilized world of its time. Between 486 and 465 B.C.E., one of its rulers, Xerxes--better known to posterity as biblical King Ahasuerus in Ezra 4:6 and in the book of Esther--contended with a number of wars and uprisings throughout his kingship and left detailed records of his response to each of these crises. One of them is particularly interesting:
"Speaks Xerxes the king: When I became king there were among these lands which are written above [some which rebelled]...by Ahuramazda's will such lands I defeated, and to their place I restored them. And among those lands were some in which the Daivas had been worshipped of old. Then by Ahuramazda's will of such temples of the Daivas I sapped the foundations, and I ordained: the Daivas shall not be worshipped. Where the Daivas had been worshipped before, there I worshipped Ahuramazda with Arta the exalted..."
If the Persian Daivas can be identified with the Indian Devas, perhaps the words of Xerxes predate the angel's admonition to Saint John about not worshipping such divine messengers: "I am thy fellow servant...and of thy brethren," which appears in the book of Revelation and has been quoted by other researchers on the subject.
These clearly non-human yet humanoid-looking entities have appeared before startled onlookers in guise of sylphs, undines and dozens of creatures of medieval and ancient legend. While trolling through folklore for evidence is hazardous work at best, we can readily find a number of traditions (Native American, Middle Eastern, Asian) in which a human mates with one of these "more than human" quantities and has offspring, or like the unfortunate hunter who spied on the goddess Artemis as she bathed, meets his or her doom.
Like Pets to Alien Masters
Salvador Freixedo's La Granja Humana (Posada, 1989) presents the high-strangeness story of a young Mexican named Jose Luis and his bizarre friendship with a small child/man known only as "Fair" (el rubio, in Spanish) due to his blond hair.
Jose Luis told Freixedo that he had first encountered his odd friend during a camping trip: a group of schoolboys had pitched their tents in the woods and encountered another boy their age (or so they thought) who led them to his own "tent" -- a rectangular, shiny affair resembling an excursion bus. From that moment on, "Fair" became a fixture in the lives of Jose Luis and his friends, visiting them at school to fill their heads with tales of space travel and the future, and making it a point of visiting Jose Luis at home on his birthday year after year. The strange little visitor earned the affection of Jose Luis' parents "because of the good advice he always imparted" to their son and his companions. In a manner worthy of an Outer Limits episode, people noticed that "Fair" never seemed to age with each subsequent birthday visit, but said nothing either out of fear or due to a belief that the small figure may be suffering from a glandular disorder. But his enigmatic visitor's apparent lack of development was the least of Jose Luis's problems.
"Fair’s role in the Mexican youngster's life seemed to be, suggests Freixedo, to groom him for future greatness (whether this greatness has been achieved remains unclear) by clearing any and all obstacles. When Jose Luis took a humble job in an important corporation, a number of managers supposedly died of a variety of symptoms until Jose Luis found himself in a powerful position--all of this after consultation with "Fair". Something similar occurred when Jose Luis remarked that he was in love with a married woman:
The fact is that one day, when Jose Luis was feeling particularly depressed, "Fair" told him: "You're sad and I know why."
Jose Luis tried to deny that he was particularly sad about anything...but "Fair" insisted: "You're in love with a young woman who can't correspond your affections because she's married. You're saddened to see that achieving your wishes seems impossible [...] don’t worry. Within a year, when I come back to visit you, you'll not only be married to the young lady, but you'll also have a child by her--no matter how impossible it may seem." (Freixedo, p.210)
And so it was. The method used to remove Jose Luis' "rival" from the picture isn't mentioned.
Freixedo elaborates further about the experiences of Jose Luis and his mysterious friend, but the above will suffice for our purposes. Did the diminutive and ageless "Fair" belong, as the author suggests, to the order of intermediary beings between humans and angels known in the Islamic world as the Djinn? Citing Gordon Creighton's work on this order of non-humans, whose reality is accepted in religious courts throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Freixedo discusses their capricious behavior toward humans, often selecting one of us as a protégé or even as a pet, and manifesting a fascination for human reproduction and human affairs (much like the abducting "Greys" our own time).
How far does this interest extend on the part of these powerful yet far from divine order of beings? Anthony Roberts suggests that the large-eyed, black-haired and pointed-faced Mesopotamian love goddess Ishtar was of their number (said physical traits being common to ultraterrestrials, in his opinion) along with other similar entities. Ancient myth had it that no mortal--understandably--was immune to the goddess of love. But what about today?
Some thirty years ago, a curious little book entitled UFO Encounters of the Fourth Kind (Zebra Books, 1978) explored the carnal obsessions evinced throughout history by these beings who appeared to us now in as "space people". Author Art Gatti made reference to a 1969 epidemic in Morocco having to do with "Aycha Kenaycha", described as a "dark demoness" or succubus who appeared to drug users undergoing astral experiences by summoning each of them in their mothers' voice. The drugged-out astral traveler would find himself facing an astral form capable of stealing their souls, not just their astral selves. Gatti states that the nationwide epidemic which filled insane asylums and jails to capacity ended in the 1970's, and that its end was brought about by the Islamic equivalent of exorcism rites...or a drastic reduction in hashish consumption.
Even a no-nonsense writer like Andreas Faber Kaiser, who achieved prominence through such works as Jesús vivió y murió en Cachemira (Jesus Lived and Died in Kashmir) and Sobre el secreto (About the Secret, an in-depth look at the ruins of Nan-Matol on Ponapé), found that his early beliefs about extraterrestrial intelligences and alien contact in human prehistory began to change in the light of his discoveries about the interest that non-human intelligences have displayed in altering the course of human warfare. In Las nubes del engaño (The Clouds of Deception) Faber Kaiser writes about the number of battles that seemed to have been “thrown” to one side or another by “divine” interventions. Lights appearing in the heat of battle, mysterious horsemen leading charges into enemy forces, claiming to be gods or saints, inspiring one faction and spreading terror among another. Would alien scientists and explorers, no matter how well versed in the customs of a planetary society, behave in such a manner? Perhaps, as the “prime directive” is an artifact of 1960s science fiction. But dispassionate monitoring is a more likely method.
Such dispassionate monitoring could take interesting shapes, extending even to overflights by “flying rolls”, “sparkling shields” and other phenomena mentioned in humanity’s past. Jacques Bergier took matters a bit further, saying that bizarre creatures could be deliberately placed among us by higher intelligences to test our reactions before being returned to their “box” in another reality. The powers of these higher intelligences, he argues, could extend to inducing novas in nearby stars to depopulate entire planets – namely our own – and bringing an end to the Age of Reptiles. “These beings, who could truly be called gods, set in motion of series of events that will not stop with man, but will continue until this evolution results in other gods, beings equal to their creators.”
More recent cases of the fascination felt by non-humans to our own kind is evidenced in Robert Leibling’s Legends of the Fire Spirits (Berkeley: Counterpoint Press, 2010), the most complete compendium of research on the jinn to date. The author cites a case involving a student at the University of Dhaka who believes that she had a djinn named “Lucy” as roommate in the summer of 1995. A young woman of unearthly beauty, she appeared able to enter rooms locked rooms and displayed other unusual talents. But as we have seen occur in the fairy tradition, the human involved in the situation often commits a misstep: in this situation, the human student bought “Lucy” a necklace and sneaked behind her to place it around her neck in front of a mirror. To the girl’s astonishment and horror, she was able to see the necklace reflected in the mirror, but not Lucy! Passing out from fright, she awoke to the faces of her concerned dorm-mates but not Lucy’s. The strange and beautiful woman who could not be seen in a mirror was gone forever.
Lifting the Veil
“You have misunderstood me. When I said they transcended the animals, I was including the most efficient animal, Man. The macrobe is more intelligent than Man.”
“But how is it in that case that we have had no communication with them?”
“It is not certain that we have not. But in primitive times it was opposed by prejudice. But though there has been little intercourse, there has been profound influence. Their effect on human history has been greater than that of the microbes, though equally unrecognised. The real causes of all the principal events are quite unknown to the historians.”
- C.S. Lewis, “That Hideous Strength”
"Human beings appear to be helplessly compelled to choose between two primary dependencies: either to accept belief blindly, or hurl itself into the open grave and put its trust in Science, which plays ninepins with apparent reality and denies the inexplicable as a matter of principle, along with whatever has not been sifted through the screen of pragmatism. Humans either "must believe" or "must accept" those who profess to have knowledge. If they do not do so, they are either punished or handed a failing grade [...] The constant threat of proscription, dangling over humanity's head like the Sword of Damocles, is the key to manipulation at the immediate level."
These words -- reminiscent of the thoughts of John A. Keel -- are actually the equally gifted pen (or keyboard) of Juan G. Atienza, the Spanish filmmaker/author/mystic whose works in the '70s and '80s were a source of inspiration to a generation. The quote appears in one of his least known but most important works: La Gran Manipulación Cósmica (The Vast Cosmic Manipulation), which does its best to transcend ufology, paranormal research and religion to come up with an explanation to the mysteries that have vexed the present generation of researchers.
While this is not meant to be an exegesis of Atienza's work, it is interesting to note that many thinkers have stepped "out of the box" to come up with the same conclusion: far from being the favorite sons and daughters of a paternalistic deity, our entire species appears to be in a rat's maze devised by a cold, unfeeling intelligence. This intelligence appears to have nothing to do with the relationships upon which we base our own behavior and knowledge (cause-effect, means-end, antecedent-consequence) and understanding this, he writes, is "the best way to consciously face many of the mysteries posed by alternate realities, and square off against the manipulation that the human species has been subjected to, with a possibility of success."
To know the gods, Atienza concludes, is to have a chance at besting them.
Enumerating the number of organisms below humanity (the realms of the animal, vegetable and mineral, at our beck and call), the Spanish thinker quickly posits that beyond "the apex of natural evolution", as we like to think of ourselves, there are entities that live at a higher dimensional level than our own and which share reality in the same way that we share the fields with cattle or the crops we raise for our own sustenance. Much in the same way that we exert our will over beasts through the use of reason, these higher-level denizens (the "macrobes" of C.S. Lewis's That Hideous Strength, to give the reader an easy reference) control us through a "super-reason" that is completely irrational to us, and which we are unable to understand. So-called Fortean phenomena and UFOs are the best examples of this irrationality, which is nonetheless driven by a clear sense of purpose. We may debate whether this purpose is "good" or "bad" -- a debate found un UFO research since its earliest days -- but much as a sheep does not necessarily want to form part of a flock, it is placed in one by a shepherd. These supradimensional forces (the "supertutelary" forces referred to by Charles Fort) are humanity's shepherds, and we obey them either directly "or through the dogs that assist the shepherd". Is this, then, the role played by elementals, "devas" and other entities?
In his book Investigating the Unexplained (Prentice-Hall, 1972), zoologist Ivan Sanderson presents a cogent explanation for the question "how can these things be?” After stressing the fact that many so-called "intangible" creatures present clearly "tangible" aspects, he propounds the existence of an entirely new set (or sets) of dimensions separated from what we understand to be our normal space/time, but "so close to ours in either respect that bits and pieces fall through from one to the other, and then possibly back again..." Perhaps more important is the great researcher's assertion that we are increasingly surrounded by measurable evidence of these other dimensions in touch with our own, inhabited by denizens of unsuspected natures, ranging from "abysmal idiots to godlike entities."
Sanderson ends his exposition on the matter by postulating a number of concepts: that there are other universes intertwined with our own, that the number of these may be infinite, that intelligent life may be common in some of them, and more importantly, that some of these intelligences figured out how to make round-trip sorties from their home universes.
Less consideration has been given to another possibility: the likelihood that these manifestations were forcibly brought into our reality--summoned--through the practice of sorcery.
It is understandable how such an possibility would receive short shrift from the outset. To believe in the summoning of entities involves a belief in ceremonial magic that not many are willing to concede, since the laws of the physical world demand that a given input be provided to obtain the desired output. No human has the ability--we would like to believe--to command the elements, coerce others to take action, or draw strange creatures from other realities for unsuspected purposes, but the record would appears to indicate otherwise. Indeed, journalist Ed Conroy, in writing about Whitley Streiber's abduction experiences (Report on Communion, p.249), suggests that one of the ways in which the issue of "visitors" may be approached is through the analysis of Western ceremonial magic practices, with their extensive tradition of contact between humans and non-humans.
Hollywood and the special effects machine have treated us to a flurry of humans vs. aliens presentations (even National Geographic has gotten in on the act) in which visitors from another world swoop down on Earth in warships – not the exploration vessels of an advanced civilization – and destroy a fair chunk of our planet. These formulaic productions inevitably introduce us to a band of heroic survivors who do their best to stem the tide of the invasion and eventually roll it back, matching human ingenuity against unknown alien firepower. Whether it’s V or The Battle for Los Angeles or Alien Invasion, extraterrestrial visitors are solid targets to be grappled with and perhaps defeated (or we can let germs do the job for us, like H.G. Wells did). Here we can find the root of the obsessive belief in the ETH – if there is some intelligence flying in the skies over our heads, killing our cattle, whisking our fellow citizens out of their beds, and it comes from a star system we can pin down on a chart, we stand a chance against it. To face the likelihood that these intelligences have been with us forever, are seldom visible, and that we are at a disadvantage to them goes against the grain of the human need to struggle and live to see another day.
In other words, no one wants to pay to see a movie, or watch a TV series, about shadow boxing.
The last word on the subject was uttered decades ago, and ironically, by a scientist: “ I think they’re (UFOs) something much more metaphysical than extraterrestrial. They may be from a parallel universe. The mystics and great religious leaders have told us for a long time that the physical world we see around us is not the sum total of our environment – that there are other planes of existence. If evidence suggests that there is a paranormal dimension to the UFO phenomenon, we’re going to have to pursue that. UFOs signal what may well be the end of the ‘normal’ world and the coming of another one.” (1)
Oh, and the scientist? That was J. Allen Hynek.
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