UFOs are…

Recently, I invited my followers to join me on an adventure as I read Keith Thompson’s book Angels and Aliens.  I promised to share my “take aways,” and the time has come for me to make good on that promise.


LosAngeles1942b

1942, The Battle for Los Angeles

Overall, I found the book to be intelligent and well-balanced.  Thompson objectively covered famous and well-documented UFO encounters, including eye-witness accounts from ordinary people, to high level officials in the military and government.  For me, some of the most compelling accounts were the UFO sightings by mass groups of people, as well as, respected pilots who were willing to put their careers on the line.  In the book, Thompson does not try to prove or debunk UFOs.  Instead, he offers insight on the mythical power the phenomena has had on our society.

As modern people we like to think that we’ve outgrown the need for mythology, trading it in for sensible science.  But Thompson convincingly shows that the modern UFO phenomena is helping to resurrect ancient myths.  As a result, the desire to explore what lies beyond our five senses is being invigorated once again.  He concludes that the public’s fascination with these pixellated objects (UFOs) is really “a religious search to recover lost intimacy.”

For true UFO believers, Thompson’s philosophical views would probably be pure boredom despite the fact that he provides plenty of hard evidence from the first modern sightings in 1947 to Whitley Strieber’s bestselling confessions of the late 1980s.  Could UFOs turn out to be “alien” technological hardware?  Maybe… time will tell.  However, at this point in my life I’m more intrigued with the discussion by those who entertain the unexplainable phenomena as “an idea at work in the world’s soul.”


So, what do I think UFOs are?

Well, it’s complicated.  What I wish they are, hope they are, want them to be, imagine and philosophize them to be, and what they really are, are all separate items.  Here’s what I’ve concluded thus far:

  • UFO sightings are real enough to be physically witnessed.
  • Almost 20% of all sightings and encounters are labeled by the government as “unexplainable.”  However, those who believe in government conspiracies would argue that this percentage is higher, and I would agree with them.
  • Supernatural and paranormal phenomena have long been a documented experience in human history.  Just ask George Washington who had his own UFO/angel experience!
  • Such experiences are “real” enough to the point that governments have felt it necessary to investigate, and then disseminate misinformation to conceal their findings.  How unfortunate!
  • Religious leaders from the Pope to the famous evangelical Billy Graham, along with world-class scientists, philosophers, and high level government officials have postulated and worked together to investigate, and understand what’s going on.  So, in my opinion, interested individuals will find some good company to talk with.
  • As for the wild theories that surface from time to time, these shouldn’t detour us from getting to the bottom of what’s really going on.  Nor, should they cause us to angrily argue and push some away from the collective search.  Theories are all part of the discovery process.  There’s plenty of room at the table.
  • Whether explainable or not, there is a higher consciousness calling humanity to imagine, explore, discover, and create.  It appears to be no respecter of persons, manifesting to all social classes and ethnic groups.
  • Any talk of the “unexplainable” is going to be strange and unsettling for the mind, heart, and soul.  If we understood it fully, there would be no need to feel uneasy and argumentative.  Thus, there’s a need for not only scientists to engage the subject, but for religious leaders as well.

In the end, is it a bird?  Sometimes.  A plane or weather balloon?  Sometimes.  An unidentified flying object?  Sometimes.  A hoax?  Som20100826_ironsky_560x375etimes.  An angel?  Possibly.  Superman?  That would be cool!  But that would open a whole new can of worms.  After all, he was an alien you know.  Whatever the phenomena is, it remains deeply embedded in our collective consciousness.  And, because it’s manifesting itself with a greater rate of frequency and impact, perhaps the answers are just within reach.  Many suggest we will understand what’s going on within the next 20 years!

The invasion is imminent…

I want to confess that I personally feel this subject is a serious one.  My fundamentalist friends will no doubt be irritated that I even entertain this topic.  It seems they only have one explanation… demons!  Sorry, I love you, but experimental planes, crashing meteors, and strange magnetic fields are not demons.  And if there is “something” (intelligent or other) engaging humanity on a mass level, I feel it’s important for us to investigate with objectivity rather than rash, opinionated judgment.

Bottom line, our universe is multi-dimensional.  From what we can see to what we have yet to see, there is still so much to learn and understand.  I don’t know the answers, nor do I know anyone who does.  I do have a friend who’s ex-CIA, and another acquaintance who swears she’s been visited by aliens.  Both have a lot to say on the subject (privately, of course).  When they speak, I listAlien-invasionen… and I think long and hard.

In the end, I’d like to believe that the modern UFO phenomenon is a massive-collective-manifestation of humanity’s deepest desires and longings.  This theory has landed me squarely within what is known as the “Excluded Middle.”  Could these experiences be the physical manifestation of humanity’s growing desire for deeper intimacy, thirst for greater knowledge, and longing for security?  If this is the case, get ready for a massive invasion soon to come!

As for the movies, perhaps all those terrifying scenes of people running in fear from alien invaders is a depiction of our shared, subconscious, human fear—the fear of vulnerability when encountering unexplainable love.  Obviously, we’d be entertaining A LOVE SO MASSIVE that it would encompasses the entire universe.  Now there’s a thought!  Who knows; maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic.


To learn more about my views on pop culture, the paranormal, and the supernatural, check out my recent book:

BeyondTheRabbitEars

UFOs & The Excluded Middle

1992 was a watershed year for the UFO community–not due to any revelation from the ranks of the saucer-smitten, but for the publication of Angels And Aliens: UFOs And The Mythic Imagination.  For the first time in recent memory, an author with a fresh perspective wrestled with a modern history of the subject, and more importantly, the people who study, or, at the very least are affected by the phenomenon.  Keith Thompson chose to look at the 20th century evolution of the UFO phenomenon as a developing system of mythology, complete with heroes, villains, power struggles, battles and innocent bystanders.

Before I share my “take-aways” with you from this book, I thought you might enjoy a little insight from the author himself.  Here’s an interview he did in 1995:


QUESTION: Angels and Aliens is, to me, one of the most important books dealing with the subject of UFOs.  I’m curious about the process that inspired the book.  Was there a specific series of events or circumstances that led you to feel a book of this type was necessary?

AUTHOR’S ANSWER: I came to the UFO phenomenon, or it came to me, by a circuitous route.  One evening Walter Cronkite opened The CBS Evening News with a dramatic rendition of a UFO sighting in Michigan.  Dozens of witnesses reported a football-shaped object the size of a car performing gyrations in the sky, before maneuvering out to a nearby swamp.  J. Allen Hynek, the tragic hero of the Air Force’s ill-fated Project Blue Book, arrived on the scene only to be quoted — misquoted, actually — as saying the witnesses had seen “swamp galogo_350s.”  This in turn was taken as proof that the military had no intention of dealing sensibly or honestly with the UFO phenomenon and its ramifications.

My twelve-year-old psyche was captivated by this case, with its cast of confounded witnesses, befuddled military experts, know-it-all debunkers, and of course the media circus surrounding it all.  I grew up in rural northern Ohio, not far from where the sightings took place.  The debate immediately polarized between those who were sure UFOs “had” to be real and those who were equally certain UFOs “couldn’t” be real.  It was my first exposure to the “mythic electricity” that surrounds the UFO domain.  Soon the “Swamp Gas Case” was infamous, and the media forgot about it, and I did too.  I didn’t pay much attention to the UFO phenomenon until quite a few years later.


 QUESTION: What prompted you to return to the subject?

AUTHOR’S ANSWER: In the early 1980s I was associated with Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California.  I coordinated a series of annual think tank-style conferences on subjects such as altered states of consciousness, shamanism, mysticism, quantum physics, and parapsychology.  One day I came across an Omni magazine interview with J. Allen Hynek, the dean of UFO studies, and was impressed by his perspective.  Michael Murphy, Esalen’s founder and my longtime comrade in various adventures of the spirit, suggested that we invite leading UFO researchers to Esalen for a free-wheeling discussion.

There I was, about to receive a symposium of experts on a phenomenon I knew very little about.  I spent two months reading everything I could get my hands on, including the works of Whitley Strieber, Budd Hopkins, Jacques Vallee, and the classic books of John Keel.  It seemed clear that at least some of the “whatevers” called UFOs didn’t fit Big Science’s view of reality.  I ended up spending five days with leading researchers, getting steeped in UFO evidence, a world brimming with surrealism.  This was a phenomenon I could get along with just fine — I felt sure of that much.


 QUESTION: Before the book, you were involved in a public symposium called “Angels, Aliens and Archetypes.”  What struck me about that event was that even though each of you had your own ideas about UFOs, you all seemed, for the most part, to represent a “post-modern” or “new paradigm” or “excluded middle” school of thought — something rare in prior UFO conferences.  Do you view that gathering as significant in terms of increasing dialogue about new ways of looking at this phenomenon?

AUTHOR’S ANSWER: A theme that emerged throughout the two days of that conference, among practically every speaker, was best phrased by Jacques Vallee, who emphasized three points:

  1. the UFO phenomenon is real;
  2. it has been with us throughout history;
  3. it is physical in nature yet it represents a form of consciousness that is able to manipulate dimensions beyond time and space as we know them.

Vallee’s friend and mentor Allen Hynek had arrived at a similar conclusion as early as 1976, when he began expressing his doubts that UFOs are nuts-and-bolts spacecraft from other worlds.  He found it ridiculous to suppose that super intelligence would travel enormous distances to do relatively stupid things like stop cars, collect soil cropcircle2samples, perform repetitive “medical exams” on abducted clients, and generally go around frightening people.

Hynek decided it was time to “begin looking closer to home.”  A key idea at the conference was that UFOs may operate in a multi-dimensional reality of which space-time is a subset — an idea that doesn’t require the reality of UFOs to stand or fall with the extraterrestrial hypothesis.  I like to think the San Francisco conference may have helped encourage new ways to think about the phenomenon.  For instance, Vallee’s idea that the intelligence the phenomenon represents could coexist with us on earth just as easily as it could originate on another planet, or in a parallel universe.


QUESTION: One of the themes we found most intriguing in Angels and Aliens was the idea of ufology viewed as an evolving mythology.  What inspired you to take this approach?

AUTHOR’S ANSWER:  There were a couple of departure points.  First, as I began to immerse myself in the literature and attend various UFO conferences, I was struck that many of the personalities in the field of ufology spent much of their time doing to each other what the personalities of Greek mythology are famous for:  quarreling, settling scores, jockeying for position, seeking revenge, and so forth.  I wanted to find out which of the gods and goddesses, which actors from the timeless annals of mythology might have slipped into the UFO cosmos, like thieves in the night.

ufo-hoax-071

1973 Missouri UFO SIghting

But the idea that ufology involves “mythology” doesn’t mean I dismiss the reality of UFOs, although some readers thought that was what I was saying.  All of life has a mythological dimension, and the UFO phenomenon is no exception.  Myth offers a background of images that allow life to show up with greater richness and depth.  The assumption that UFO events must be either real or symbolic — but not both — is fundamentalist thinking at its worst.  Try as we might, life refuses to be reduced to any flat singular interpretation.  Interesting, that the word “symbolism” is derived from the Greek symballein, which means “to throw together.”  The word denotes the drawing together of two worlds.  Hermes is a spanner of boundaries, a mediator between realms, an ambassador between domains which seem separate but are connected by subtle thresholds.

In Angels and Aliens I was trying to show that UFO reality is complex, multidimensional, remarkably nuanced and textured — and above all, not cooperative with the mental categories to which the Western mind has become so attached.

number-3

Angels & Aliens

In my research, I recently ran across an intriguing book by Keith Thompson, Angels and Aliens: UFOs and the Mythic Imagination.  It was published in 1993 and received some pretty impressive reviews.  Here are just a few:

“Magnificent…no matter what your beliefs, [it] is the most fascinating book written on the subject.” – San Francisco Chronicle

“As original and provocative a book as you’re likely to run into this year…Keith Thompson has issued a bold new challenge to our imagination, and our perception.” – Esquire

“An important work.” – John E. Mack, M.D., Pulitzer Prize winner

“An intelligent, engrossing and often wryly funny analysis.” – Minneapolis Star Tribune

I ordered a used copy from Amazon for $3.99.  It arrived two days later.  I was impressed with the condition (Good), and upon inspe710P8PQ78RL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_.gifction found a few dogeared pages with some penciled stars, exclamation marks, and underlining.  It’s interesting to see what a total stranger found important over two decades ago.

From a quick scan, I learned that the author approached the subject matter with an intellectual energy, smart wit, and an open-ended perspective, while avoiding the dogmatism of true believers and debunkers alike.  According to the back cover, “Angels and Aliens invites the reader to enter a fascinating world with profound implications for our understanding of the human spirit.”

Carl Jung first spoke of the UFO phenomenon as “a modern myth in the making.”  Later, Joseph Campbell insisted that the first function of myths is to open the “mind and heart to the utter wonders of all being.”  Though I have trusted-friends who have seen UFOs, I personally don’t have a definitive opinion.  However, I welcome the opening of mind and heart “to the wonders of all being” no matter how it comes.

As I read this book, I’ll keep you posted of what I learn…


Check out my recent book!

BeyondTheRabbitEars

Available on Amazon