UFO myths: Interview with Eric Vandenbroeck

Webmaster of World News Research: Often in the news, could UFO myths show some similarities with demonology of old?

When in the 1960’s, famous UFOlogist Jim Moseley made a pilgrimage to the Wisconsin farm where Ray Palmer spent most of his later years. Palmer asked Moseley rhetorically, “What if I told you it was all a joke?”

It was indeed in the first issue of Palmer’s Fate Magazine Spring 1948, that the cover story was Kenneth Arnold claim about what he believed he saw, and which we can safely say was influenced by the so called Mary Island Hoax.

Apart from their relationship with the occult, as mentioned elsewhere, I think that one of the most prominent aspects of UFO myths today are conspiracy theories.

That UFO encounters are supernatural/imaginative, in nature has been known a long time. It has from the very beginning be evidenced by the fact for example that early Spiritualists, Theosophists, and Swedenborg, dressed the inhabitants of Mercury, whom he meets with in the spirit-world, in clothes such as are worn in Europe.

At the end of the nineteenth century however, Venus replaced Mars as the most popular contact planet, reflecting this trend Blavatsky had, among her Masters, the Lords of the Flame, who lived on Venus.

Another characteristic of  contactees’ like Silver Shirts founder William D. Pelley, (including George Adamski early on) and so on, is that they claimed they were "channeling."

In this context also the “Ancient Astronaut” myth was invented by Pelley when it appeared in his Soulcraft project (that was over a million words in length). Pelley’s ancient astronaut theory next catchet the imagination of writers like Robert Charroux and Erich von Daenicken when a student of Pelley, George Hunt Williamson, came out with “Star Guests” (1950)  containing a compilation from the Soulcraft material.

George Hunt Williamson used Ouija board-contacts with the Space People (all of which he later "admitted" were psychic communications).

Robert Charroux also mentioned in several of his books an indebtedness to the A.M.O.R.C.  of  "Harvey Spencer Lewis" ( See for example R. Charroux, Histoire Inconnu des hommes depuis cent mille ans, 1963,  p. 85, 113, 144, 147-148, 151, 258.)

The AMORC was established by New York advertising man H. Spencer Lewis, and represents one of several Rosicrucian groups active in the United States. Lewis, went on to posit that his organization's teachings actually dated from the reign of Thutmose III, circa 1500 B.C.

Lewis skillfully mixed in Theosophical elements to separate his version of Rosicrucianism from his competitors (completing a circle begun with Theosophy founder H. P. Blavatsky, who earlier swiped elements from earlier European Rosicrucianism ).

During the 1930’s Lewis oriented much of his teachings toward the spiritualist mecca of Mount Shasta. Thus his 1931 volume Lemuria: The Lost Continent of the Pacific placed the Atlantis myth in the Pacific Ocean.

And once more emphasizing the role of conspiracy theories played in all of this, Pelley asserted that he started to receive clairaudient messages after reading “Subversive Movements” by Nesta Webster (the latter also being a believer in reincarnation). Such factors melded with the strong nativist impulse of the previous decade and older remnants of populist rhetoric.

But although Pelley dreamed of "a million Silver Shirts by 1939," total membership figures never approached that lofty number. The best estimates are that the group had approximately 15,000 members in 1934-35. Additionally, the Silver Shirts had an estimated 75,000 non-affiliated sympathizers. At its zenith, then, the Silver Shirt Legion was among the largest of the militant domestic extremist groups and only slightly smaller than the Bund America (which reached a membership of 25,000).

Pelley attributed enormous power and intelligence to the "space-men" but, characteristically, had trouble deciding exactly what they were doing on earth.

In 1930 also, Guy Ballard claimed he met the legendary Comte de Saint Germain on Mount Shasta. In reality Ballard swiped most of Helena Blavatsky's religious system placing St. Germain and Jesus Christ at the top of a pantheon of Ascended Masters. But while Guy Ballard developed ideas from Theosophy (and a few meetings with Psychiana's Frank B. Robinson), Edna Ballard began holding esoteric classes based on material she lifted from Pelley's “League for the Liberation” writings. The attracted more than 6,000 devoted followers.

Thus the Ballards build a religion on "contact with extraterrestrials." Countless later contactee religions, including Unarius, the Church Universal and Triumphant, Aetherius Society, and Astara Foundation plus many others, borrowed this idea.

After Pelley introduced George Hunt Williamson to George Adamski, the Soulcraft employee traveled to California to meet the that time founder of the Royal Order of Tibet "Professor" Adamski's teachings were swiped whole cloth from the I AM movement, and Theosophy. Inspired by the Arnold sightings, Adamski began writing science fiction stories. And in November 1952 Williamson, Adamski, and five others ushered in the so-called "contactee era" by allegedly conversing with a Venusian new Desert Center, California.

The spaceman encountered was described as "Aryan" looking, with long blond hair and blue eyes, a point that critics familiar with the backgrounds of Adamksi and Williamson quickly latched upon as evidence of both fraud and racism.

Despite the highly questionable aspects of Adamski and Williamsn’s stories, Pelley continued to trumpet his association with them and the validity of their alien encounters. In Valor, Pelley recounted their adventures and reprinted letters he received from Williamson, Adamski, and Adamski's secretary Lucy McGinnis, who ghostwrote all of Adamski's books.

Like Pelley, Adamski made increasingly outlandish claims as he got older. By the early 1960's Adamski contended he had made a trip to Saturn and discussed the saucers in private sessions with John F. Kennedy and Pope John XXIII. (See Religions from Other Worlds, 1995, 259-266.)

The "Aryan" appearance of spacemen spotted by Adamski and others also helped give rise to a theory that Ufos represented a secret weapon of remnants of the Third Reich (who were usually said to be hiding out in the Arctic). A topic taken up by Wilhelm Landig and Rudolf J. Mund (who in  in 1979 became prior of the Ordo Novi Templi).

Pelley also made clear that despite the salvationist mission of the Christ People, evil remained powerful. Evil spirits have invaded the earth from elsewhere in the universe, first incarnated in Napoleon and later in the leaders of the Soviet Union. If they are not stopped, he wrote, "a coalition of oriental nations-of which Russia is leader ... [will] subjugate the globe, reducing its white and Christian peoples to bondage."

Williamson published Other Tongues-Other Flesh, with an entire chapter devoted to these ideas. Where Pelley tended to be vague about the relations between the Sirians and entities from other star systems such as the Pleiades and Orion, though, Williamson claimed he could clearly distinguish the logic of good and evil. He became increasingly convinced that there was a division of the cosmos between good and evil aliens.

Thus coming back to your question if there is some relationship with the demonology of old, and from an older historical perspective, yes one can see a relationship with what could be called demonology.

Already in the Symposium, Plato's Socrates claimed that the gods never have direct contact with humans. Instead, they employ the daimons, beings halfway between gods and humans, as their intermediaries or messengers.  Plato's term daimonion gave the West its word for demons, his word for messenger, angelos, the word for angels. When God begins to seem impossibly distant, Western Christians rediscover angels and demons. If these messengers begin to seem distant or unreal as well, someone begins daydreaming that somewhere-somewhere close – other people must be experiencing superhuman reality, physically, empirically, unmistakably. 

Coming to terms with the imperceptibility, improbability, and possible nonexistence of the spirit world happened gradually, in step with a reluctant acceptance of the extraordinary power of the human imagination.

The thirteenth century was a crucial period in the development of necromancy as both idea and practice. This was the age of Thomas Aquinas, and there is clear evidence that necromancy was already under consideration as a way of investigating whether spirits really existed or were capable of interaction with humans. Around the time Aquinas was born, the German Cistercian monk Caesanius of Heisterbach wrote his Dialogus miraculorum, or Dialogue on Miracles (1225), which was very influential in the later Middle Ages.

And then we have an abductionist like John Mack who rebels against the cold impersonality of what he tellingly call’s consensus reality: "I am often asked," he says, "why, if UFOs and abductions are real, the spaceships do not show up in more obvious form." The answer, predictably, is that these "encounters" are being directed by "an intelligence that provides enough evidence that something profoundly important is at work"; yet this intelligence "does not offer the kinds of proof that would satisfy an exclusively empirical, rationalistic way of knowing." The solution is "for us to embrace the reality of the phenomenon and to take a step toward appreciating that we live in a universe different from the one in which we have been taught to believe."

This combined with what I mentioned earlier in this interview indeed point to a degree of disconnectedness leading to what are perceived as communications with (imaginary) spirits.

Abduction stories are generally accepted to be simply a result of sleep paralyses.