Into the In-Betweens

I remember my first sleep paralysis experience quite vividly. I was very young. It was probably sometime in 1994. “Sightings” had been on TV for a few years, and “The X-Files” had just premiered the year before. At the height of my hysterical fear that I would be abducted by aliens from my bedroom at night, I would typically go to bed and cover myself completely with my sheets, leaving only a small hole for myself to breathe through, convinced that if I hid myself and made myself small enough the Greys would leave me alone. I lived in nightly rapturous fear of seeing my bedroom door creak open slowly to reveal those huge black eyes peeking around the corner.

So, one of these dreadful nights I finally fell asleep, but was awoken by a feeling of indescribable terror. I was completely unable to move and it felt like my entire body was vibrating with electricity. A loud roar filled my room, and strange multi-colored lights were shining through my window and dancing across the walls. I tried to scream for my parents, but it came out a hoarse whisper, barely audible. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, that the whole universe was ending around me, collapsing in on itself. I managed to turn my eyes in their sockets enough to look at the large red numbers on my digital alarm clock to the left of my bed. It was 2:10 AM.

Then I saw my door was slightly ajar.

A small dark head peeked at me through the open door. I felt like my heart was going to launch itself into orbit. I continued to scream, but it was as if it were being absorbed by the atmosphere of my room, sucked into a vacuum from which no sound could escape. The figure stepped into full view. It was the size of a child, not much bigger than I was, and completely pitch black. This being seemed to be made of darkness itself, the blackness oozing and writhing around it in constant flux. I got the impression it was an living artifact of static, white noise slightly out of phase with everything around it, flickering and indistinct.

It moved towards me quickly, walking with a jangling gait that reminded me of an enormous marionette being guided by unseen hands. Finally it stood right next to my bed, to my right. I couldn’t turn my head to look at it, but I could still view it in my peripheral vision. I felt it lean in towards me as my panic peaked to levels I had never experienced in my short life. Not even the terror and anguish I had suffered at the hands of my physically abusive parents came close to this. I struggled to move, focusing every ounce of willpower I had into wiggling just a toe. “Just my toe,” I thought and I could get out of this.

And then, like a balloon filled to bursting, it popped. I had moved my toe. Everything was over. It wasn’t that I had woken up from a nightmare. I had had plenty of those and knew what those were like. This was something entirely new.

I looked at my digital alarm clock. It was 3:15 AM.

For years I lived with this experience and others like it. Every so often I would wake up, unable to move, screaming out whispers. Sometimes it would happen as I fell asleep, descending on me like a cloak of night. None were quite so visceral and eventful as that first encounter, but they were always terrifying. I would hear people talking in languages I didn’t speak, parties going on inside my house when everyone was asleep. Strange laughter, the opening and closing of doors, cabinets, glasses clinking. Women I couldn’t see with foreign accents asking me for help. Every occurrence became a race against time, I just had to move one little part of my body and it would be all over. My willpower was my salvation.

Occasionally the intruders would be back, but only in my extended senses. I never saw that shadow again, but I would feel during my attacks that something – or multiple things – were coming for me. Somehow I knew that dog-headed men were on their way, almost up the stairs now, ready to enter and annihilate me, eat me up or take me away to wherever they came from. I had dreams of barren plains where giant piles of trash fell from openings in the sky into enormous piles. They were all the things that people had lost or had gone missing. I found my old stuffed frog there amongst the pile. There were also people there. I felt I knew, deep down, this is where those things were coming from, this is where they would take me.

I got older and the attacks subsided a bit. Eventually friends and people I met through working at a summer camp introduced me formally to the occult and I began eagerly reading about what the books called “astral travel” in addition to all the regular material about demons, spirits, magic circles and rituals. But it was always the astral that drew me in. These books treated the astral travel experience as both dangerous and complicated, but included methods on how to achieve the state. At this point I still hadn’t made the connection between sleep paralysis and the out-of-body state, not having realized that I knew more about this than I thought I did.

A key experience helped me understand the link between the two, and how close to piercing the veil of my physical senses I was really getting. I was in high school by this point and had come home one afternoon, completely exhausted. My parents and little brother were still away so I was all alone. Feeling tired and wanting to catch a nap before everyone got home, I laid down on the couch and immediately started falling asleep. However, my body fell asleep faster than my mind, because I started feeling a paralysis attack coming on. The vibrations grew. Unable to break it, I became completely encapsulated in a humming envelope, prevented from moving an inch. I became intensely frightened that two men were coming up my driveway and were going to open the front door and kidnap me. Terrified, I tried “rocking” back and forth, in an attempt to roll to the floor and get away. The “rocking” worked, and I felt myself roll off the side of the couch and fall to the floor. But, my fall was odd: I was descending as slowly as a feather, drifting along through the few feet that separated the couch from the floor as if I were made of mist. I touched the floor and felt myself “bounce” off it gently.

Then I was back on the couch. I sat bolt upright, completely confused by what had just happened. Had I . . . fallen out of my body? I knew that I had felt myself roll off the couch, but then I obviously hadn’t. It wasn’t long after that experience that I realized the paralysis state was intimately connected with the exit from the body that I had been reading about. I kept studying, and resolved to completely leave my physical body with intent and direction.

Finally, after practicing for weeks at night, meditating in bed on my back, trying to feel a way to get out of my physical form, I found it. The books I had been reading offered a number of “exit strategies”. One that I had tried – to no avail – was to visualize myself climbing an imaginary rope out of my body and into the air. This never quite worked out, I just couldn’t get the feeling of it down. I remembered my earlier experience on the couch and the “rocking” motion that had eventually caused a spontaneous OBE. I imagined that I was falling through my bed, and then rising back up through myself into the air. I tried to feel this happening to me, as if I were on a roller coaster or some carnival ride. Eventually I was able to mentally get into it so effectively that it really did feel like my stomach was turning from the experience.

Then, on one of these “upswings” it felt like my hands were peeling off a large sticky counter top. I went with the feeling, completely freeing my arms from the glue and then lifting my body as well. I felt the whole universe shaking violently, as if I were coming apart. I tried to open my “eyes” and could see, but just barely. It was like opening them for the first time: Everything was fuzzy and gray and washed out. But I could see! I realized I was floating a few feet above my bed, but didn’t dare look at my body. Excitement raced through me as I realized what I had accomplished. I knew immediately what I wanted to do and moved, stumbling and feeling along the floor as if I were crawling on newborn legs, to my closed bedroom door. I had read about how you could simply pass through matter like a ghost in this state, and I wanted to experience this unique sensation.

But, when I tried to “phase” through the door, I hit it and stopped. “What?” I asked myself. I thought I was out-of-body? What’s the big deal here? I “touched” the door again with my misty pseudopodial “hands”. I could feel the wood, firm and hard. But, when I relaxed and just let myself “melt”, my pseudopods went right through it – along with the rest of me.

I use these terms in parentheses because there’s no easy way to translate this experience to our waking, material world. Much like in “The Matrix” when Morpheus points out to Neo that it’s not air he’s breathing, you have to come to terms with the fact that this liminal, non-physical form does not have analogues to your flesh. You don’t have hands, you don’t have feet, you don’t have eyes. None of these things translate anymore, and the sooner you let them go the better.

I found myself in my house’s hallway and floated through the open door of my parents’ bedroom. I saw my mother and father asleep in their bed, illuminated by the moonlight filtering in through the bedroom window. Everything seemed as real as if I were awake. My vision had cleared and I could see almost as clearly as I could in my waking body. Wanting to still prove to myself that this was happening, I “jumped” on my parents’ bed and started trying to wake my mother up. I don’t know how I thought I could accomplish this, but in my mind I was yelling for her to “wake up!” and “shaking” the bed.

Her eyes shot open.

She stared right into me and she looked terrified. I became intensely embarrassed and scared that I had done something awful. I felt myself snap back into my room as if I were a rubber band stretched out that had been let loose. I “woke” up and sat up in bed, listening carefully for any noise coming from my parents’ room, scared stiff that I had angered them. I didn’t hear anything and soon laid back down, closed my eyes and fell asleep, still brimming with excitement from these first, hesitant steps into the unknown. The next day I asked my mother about the night before, not giving details but inquiring if I had somehow woken her. She said no. To this day I’ll never know if she really woke up or not, but I was sure I had made a real breakthrough in my attempts to move outside my physical form.

The next time I accomplished the out-of-body state, I decided to explore outside. I floated up towards the ceiling of my room and relaxed, drifting right through the plaster and insulation and roof beams into the clear night sky. I kept drifting up and up, wanting to soar through the evening like a witch on her broomstick. The only issue was, I looked down.

It’s easy to think that you’re ready to fly outside of the confines and contexts of a plane or helicopter, but the first time you’re really up there all alone, you learn how you really feel about the situation. It’s disorienting to be just above the trees and like Wile E. Coyote not realizing he’s in the air until the Roadrunner points it out to him, once I noticed how high I was up I panicked and started descending. Not quickly, as if I were falling, but slowly and gently. It was as if I were a balloon that had begun to deflate. In a sense, I don’t think that’s an entirely metaphorical analogy for the situation. It was as if my confidence and intent were the forces keeping me aloft. I could fly because I believed I could fly. Once I lost that magic feather, Dumbo started plummeting. I lost control of the out-of-body state and snapped back into my body.

Another time I went out-of-body, everything felt so real that I wasn’t quite sure if I hadn’t just woken up and got out of bed. It had been early morning, and I had suffered a sleep paralysis attack upon awakening. I had since learned that I could transition those attacks into an out-of-body experience if I so pleased and had done just that. I floated down my hallway and into the kitchen. I was so confused by the clarity of the experience that I thought it was an aborted attempt. There was a noise from behind me and I watched my little brother walk into the kitchen, pour himself a glass of orange juice, drink it and return to his bedroom. Figuring this attempt a bust, but still sensing something was “off” about the world around me, I opened (as if I were in the flesh!) the backdoor and went into our backyard. I could feel the dew on the grass wetting my “feet”. Deciding to give it the old college try (and because no one was watching) I leapt into the air, attempting to take off like Superman. Either it would work, or it wouldn’t work and I would feel extremely silly.

I shot off into the sky like a rocket. I watched the trees in my backyard shrink to the size of toothpicks and could see for miles around me. Not having expected this, my stomach ate my heart and in this panicked moment I snapped right back to my body.

It took several years of experiences to really get the hang of moving in the out-of-body state. One particular experience I remember is that while staying the night at a friend’s house, I felt an attack coming on and transitioned it into an OBE, floating up to the ceiling and through the roof. By this time I had flown enough to get a feel for it and felt very comfortable gliding just a few feet off the ground, moving like a silent, ghostly manta ray through the humid night. Pretty soon I left what I call the “local” area – the area around your current environment – and had bled off into what I call the “in-betweens“: the dreamlands, the over-there, the other sky, or if you prefer: The astral. I found myself in what I interpreted as a park. It was very dark, but there were a few streetlamps here and there, dim but providing some light to see by. Through the park ran a blacktop road along which drifted a few antique cars, silently moving through the night without a driver I could see and with no headlamps on. As I explored this place, I noticed – to my surprise – a middle-aged looking man sitting on a bench. I froze, curious if he could see me or not. After a moment I started moving towards him.

He turned in my direction with a look of utter fear and panic on his face. I realized quickly: “He can see me!”

“Hey!” I shouted.

Then he did something I never expected: Without saying a word, he turned and launched into the night sky.

“He’s like me!” I realized. “I have to talk to him!”

I immediately gave chase. We flew through the night, me just barely keeping up with him. I kept grasping for his leg. He was right there. I wanted so badly just to grab him, stop him, tell him it’s okay and that I’m not going to hurt him and I just have a ton of questions. Sir! Please stop! I have so many questions!

But it was to no avail. I lost him, he was just faster than me. Utterly lost in the in-betweens, I let myself snap back to my body, feeling dejected.

These are just a handful of experiences I’ve had over the years. Working in the out-of-body state, exploring the in-betweens, trying to find out what’s real and what is fiction has taken up a large portion of my childhood, teen years and now adult life.

Everyone can have these experiences, you don’t need to be a sufferer of sleep paralysis or even believe in the occult. This is why I dislike the term “astral” and all the spiritual baggage that word brings with it. I tend to think most people have these experiences naturally – probably all the time – and either write them off as hallucinations or dreams. But I’m here to tell you: they’re real, they can be explored. Even today, I’m still trying to plumb the depths of the human mind, figure out protocols to make the OBE state more reliable to achieve, explore the dreamlands that we create and that have always existed, hidden yet within reach, somewhere in-between here and there.

You Can Call Me Al

The story of Albert K. Bender is a fascinating entry in the annals of UFO lore and someone I’ve become intensely interested in lately. Perhaps it’s a sense of kinship. By all accounts, Albert’s interests were macabre and he was a huge fan of horror movies. He decorated his room in his stepfather’s attic with scenes from spooky films and Halloween decorations. Bender delighted in creeping out people who came over with ghost stories and uncomfortable tales about how he “got a real kick” out of removing some dead bodies from the water when he was stationed in Virginia during his service in the Air Force. In so many ways he reminds me of myself in my late teens – wanting to stand out, shock at any costs.

Screenshot 2017-07-24 18.43.09

Bender also had an interest in the occult. While never specifying the name of the works he was studying at the time, he admitted reading books on “black magic”. This interest and the subsequent events Bender unwittingly unleashed upon himself will become important later.

In 1952 Bender created the International Flying Saucer Bureau, a newsletter and club created to investigate the flying saucer phenomena. The IFSB is particularly important in the folklore of Ufology for being the first such civilian organization dedicated to the topic. Over the course of that year he started experiencing typical Keelian Men in Black activity. He received strange phone calls with weird noises and veiled threats to drop the topic of UFOs. At one point he went up to his attic “Chamber of Horrors” and saw a blue glow emanating from under his door. When he checks inside he found his records disturbed and a strong smell of sulfur in the air.

Later, Albert had a very unique encounter in a movie theater. Initially completely alone in the empty theater, he gets the impression that someone was watching him and when he turned he saw a shadowy figure staring at him with glowing eyes. He became faint and closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened his eyes, the figure had disappeared. However, shortly afterwards it reappeared, causing Bender to become dizzy and disoriented. This frightened Bender so much he fled the movie theater. As he made his way home, he once more was confronted by this ominous figure while he was window shopping along the main street. This episode is uniquely curious to me for its subtle homosexual undertones. Was this whole experience simply someone trying to pick up the nerdy young Bender in a lonely theater, and he overlaid the supernatural onto it as a way of coping? Or, perhaps there was something stranger going on and Bender truly was tormented by some ominous shadowy being. There’s certainly no lack of sexual undertones in ufological lore and this oozes queer panic.

Finally, before the fated “World Contact Day” experience, Bender once more was witness to a materialization of some sort of entity in his attic room, apparently during a meeting between members of the IFSB. Again, Bender saw the same bluish light from his bedroom and when he investigates, he saw a bright ball of bluish light with what looked like a body in the center. Bender called out to the entity but it faded away, leaving behind a temporary after image of two glowing eyes. Again, the stench of sulfur filled the room. Bender rejoined his comrades and didn’t speak of this episode, for fear of ridicule.

This brings us to the real core of the story: World Contact Day. Apparently Bender and a few of his IFSB buddies had decided to “send a telepathic message to the visitors from space” and March 15th was picked as the day of communication. It was coordinated amongst members of the IFSB that the message was to go out on March 15, 1953 at 6 p.m EST exactly, and they were all to attempt contact simultaneously. Someone with more astrological knowledge than myself will have to elucidate if there is any significance to this date. Several members of the group scoffed at this outrageous idea, with a familiar hesitation towards anything smelling faintly of the occult that we still see today in modern Ufology. Albert was not dissauded.

The wording of this telepathic message to the “visitors” should sound very familiar to anyone who’s studied grimoires or Solomonic magic:

Calling occupants of interplanetary craft! Calling occupants of interplanetary craft that have been observing our planet EARTH. We of IFSB wish to make contact with you. We are your friends, and would like you to make an appearance here on EARTH. Your presence before us will be welcomed with the utmost friendship. We will do all in our power to promote mutual understanding between your people and the people of EARTH. Please come in peace and help us in our EARTHLY problems. Give us some sign that you have received our message. Be responsible for creating a miracle here on our planet to wake up the ignorant ones to reality. Let us hear from you. We are your friends.

Compare that to the “Conjuration To Call Forth Any of the Aforesaid Spirits” from the Lesser Key of Solomon:

I DO invocate and conjure thee, O Spirit, N.; and being with power armed from the SUPREME MAJESTY, I do strongly command thee, by BERALANENSIS, BALDACHIENSIS, PAUMACHIA, and APOLOGIAE SEDES; by the most Powerful Princes, Genii, Liachidæ, and Ministers of the Tartarean Abode; and by the Chief Prince of the Seat of Apologia in the Ninth Legion, I do invoke thee, and by invocating conjure thee. And being armed with power from the SUPREME MAJESTY, I do strongly command thee, by Him Who spake and it was done, and unto whom all creatures be obedient. Also I, being made after the image of GOD, endued with power from GOD and created according unto His will, do exorcise thee by that most mighty and powerful name of GOD, EL, strong and wonderful; O thou Spirit N. And I command thee and Him who spake the Word and His FIAT was accomplished, and by all the names of God. Also by the names ADONAI, EL, ELOHIM, ELOHI, EHYEH, ASHER EHYEH, ZABAOTH, ELION, IAH, TETRAGRAMMATON, SHADDAI, LORD GOD MOST HIGH, I do exorcise thee and do powerfully command thee, O thou Spirit N., that thou dost forthwith appear unto me here before this Circle in a fair human shape, without any deformity or tortuosity. And by this ineffable name, TETRAGRAMMATON IEHOVAH, do I command thee, at the which being heard the elements are overthrown, the air is shaken, the sea runneth back, the fire is quenched, the earth trembleth, and all the hosts of the celestials, terrestrials, and infernals, do tremble together, and are troubled and confounded. Wherefore come thou, O Spirit N., forthwith, and without delay, from any or all parts of the world wherever thou mayest be, and make rational answers unto all things that I shall demand of thee. Come thou peaceably, visibly, and affably, now, and without delay, manifesting that which I shall desire. For thou art conjured by the name of the LIVING and TRUE GOD, HELIOREN, wherefore fulfil thou my commands, and persist thou therein unto the end, and according unto mine interest, visibly and affably speaking unto me with a voice clear and intelligible without any ambiguity.

The structure is remarkably similar. Eerily so. Since Albert passed away in March of 2016, we’ll never truly know if this was intentional or not, but I suspect it was largely subliminal and guided by his knowledge of occult works. There is a call to appear, followed by a greeting and a desire to establish friendly relations, and then a command to create a “miracle on earth”. While wrapped in modern language, the spirit of the thing remains.

That evening, Albert went to his room at 6 p.m., turned out the lights, got into bed, repeated this conjuration three times and then experienced what researchers would commonly call an Out-of-Body Experience or OBE. He describes smelling that same sulfur stench and having the feeling of being paralyzed, his brain filled with flashing blue lights and then finding himself floating three feet above his body.

He was then confronted by a shadowy figure constructed of yellow mist with a voice commanding him to discontinue his investigations into the “mysteries of the universe.” I find this turn of phrase particularly fascinating. The entity or spirit that Bender conjured wasn’t telling him to stop researching flying saucers, per se, but existence itself. It was trying to dissuade him from further occult studies, acting as a gatekeeper to further knowledge. This is another familiar subject to students of the occult and should ring several bells.

It’s prudent at this point to describe the entity often referred to the Dweller on the Threshold in esoteric literature. From Glamour: A World Problem p.22 and p.39:

The Dweller on the Threshold is illusion-glamour-maya, as realized by the physical brain and recognized as that which must be overcome. It is the bewildering thoughtform with which the disciple is confronted, when he seeks to pierce through the accumulated glamours of the ages, and find his true home in the place of light.

The Dweller on the Threshold does not emerge out of the fog of illusion and glamour, until the disciple is nearing the Gates of Life. Only when he can catch dim glimpses of the Portal of Initiation and an occasional flash of Light from the Angel of the Presence, Who stands waiting beside that door, can he come to grips with the principle of duality, which is embodied for him in the Dweller and the Angel. . . .

And from Esoteric Psychology, Vol. II,  p. 312

The Dweller on the Threshold is oft regarded as a disaster, as a horror to be avoided, and as a final and culminating evil. I would here remind you, nevertheless, that the Dweller is ‘one who stands before the gate of God’, who dwells in the shadow of the portal of initiation, and who faces the Angel of the Presence open-eyed, as the ancient Scriptures call it.

All of the entity contact events of the 1952 – the strange being in the movie theater, the twice materialized glowing entity in Bender’s room and now this outright confrontation – can be seen as manifestations of the Dweller on the Threshold, at least as understood by students of the occult. This initiatory event and its conclusion is seen as a test for the magician to pass metaphysically from one side “to the other” and give up their fear and ego that holds them back. Bender was quite obviously not prepared for this event. He was a dabbler, and boy was he in way too fucking deep.


It brings to mind Grant Morrison’s description of his first successful conjuration and its consequences.

From “One Nervous System’s Passage Through Time”: GRANT MORRISON interviewed by Jay Babcock (Arthur No. 12/Sept 2004):

GM: I spent 25 years doing magic because I didn’t believe Aleister Crowley when he said a demon would appear if I performed certain operations. And so I did the operations to prove him wrong, and a fucking demon appeared! [laughs] So, from the age of 19 I’ve had to deal with the fact that the demon had actually appeared, and that Crowley was saying something that now made sense experientially.

Which demon was it?

GM: I dunno, it had a flaming lion’s head, and it said “I am neither North nor South” and I shat myself. I read up on it since but I can’t remember the name offhand. I think it was more of an angel, to be honest. But the bottom line is at age 19, being quite skeptical, I discovered it worked. And I had to deal with that, to accommodate that view of the world.

This resonates with me even further given that I’ve had my first successful contact with an entity recently, in which I believe I conversed with the demon Oriens after performing the Invocation of the Four Kings. Like Bender, like Morrison, I didn’t think anyone – or more properly, anything – would actually show up. Turns out they do, and they can eat you alive if you’re not careful. Bender found this out the hard way when his visitors showed up once again.

Having seemingly failed his initiatory experience by being too scared to move past the Dweller, shunned by his fellow IFSB members when he tried to tell him his fantastic encounter, Bender was in an extremely vulnerable and lonely position. Juicy psychic meat for spirits who smelled blood in the etheric water.

After a vacation in July 1953, Bender returned once more to the smell of sulfur in his attic room. As he got ready for bed, he felt faint and underwent another sudden bout of sleep paralysis. Now he was confronted with three entities, more distinct and clear this time and wearing black clerical outfits and Homburg hats. Interestingly, they were floating several feet off the floor.

One only need to search the phrase “hatman” to find that this archetype of a shadowy figure wearing a hat is an extremely common one and currently well within the realm of popular consciousness. In particular I’m reminded of a scene from the wonderful 2015 documentary about sleep paralysis, “The Nightmare”, in which a man experiences and out-of-body experience where he is confronted by a shadowy figure in a hat and his two cronies who order him back into his body, cutting him off from experimentation and further exploration of the out-of-body state.


These beings further tormented Albert, telling him that they would reveal hidden knowledge to him because they knew that no one would believe his story. They handed him a small metal coin or disk and provide him with a word of power (Kandik) that he could use to call them using a radio. While I can’t come up with a direct parallel between this and fairy lore, the giving of some sort of talisman seems awfully familiar from a folkloric sense. There are shades of EVP here as well, using a technological device like a radio to act as a transceiver from the spirit world to our physical realm.

Bender, still too damn curious for his own good, attempted this contact and once again experienced an OBE that manifested into what seemed to be a full-blown abduction experience in which he was taken to a “spaceship” and filled full of more of this secret knowledge, most of it sounding awfully familiar to those who’ve studied the contactees. Some of the information is reminiscient of the Shaver mystery, involving the visitors living inside the “Hollow Earth” and oddly enough paints the visitors in an almost predatory light. They describe to Bender how they can take over the minds of humans and use them to infiltrate society, sometimes murdering and replacing them as they see fit. This stands in strange contrast to the Adamsky style Space Brothers that preached a doctrine of universal love and peace. I wonder if Bender’s obsession with the darker aspects of life, the occult, and horror movies didn’t influence his contextualization of these encounters.

One extremely curious tidbit he was given was about the Milky Way galaxy itself. One of the beings talked about the “Great Central Stillness” at the center of the galaxy, which was “so powerful that you could not even approach it by light years; for if you did you would immediately be destroyed. It is the creator of all of us, and more families of planets are constantly being formed and thrown off into orbits.” This is astounding for several reasons.

If Albert was given this information in 1953, it predates the actual location of the Galactic Center by a year. Joseph Lade Pawsey and his team didn’t discover the true Galactic Center until 1954 when they were able to pinpoint an extremely powerful belt of radio emissions in Sagittarius, 32 degrees south-west of what was thought to be the true center at the time.

Even more fantastic, the visitor’s description of the Galactic Center as a “Great Central Stillness” so powerful that even getting within light years of it would destroy the observer seems incredibly, almost unbelievably close to a description of a supermassive black hole. A supermassive black hole at the center of the galaxy was not even hypothesized to exist until Donald Lynden-Bell and Martin Rees put forth the idea in 1971. The first real indications that they could be right were not confirmed until early 1974. Flying Saucers and the Three Men was published in 1963, predating the work of Lynden-Bell and Rees by eleven years.

General relativity and the work of Karl Schwarzschild had predicted the existence of singularities as early as 1915, it wasn’t until 1939 that Robert Oppenheimer and others predicted that a neutron star above the Tolman–Oppenheimer–Volkoff limit would collapse. This is before the term “black hole” was even coined – that honor goes to a student of John Wheeler in 1967 – and these collapsed stars were referred to as “frozen stars.” The similarity to “frozen star” and “Great Central Stillness” is chilling. Even so, the idea of black holes existing in the popular consciousness didn’t exist until the late 1960s. But here was Bender being told by star beings in 1953 about the supermassive black hole at the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. Were these entities providing actual truthful information to Bender, sandwiched between all of the obvious lies and fantasy?

Further out-of-body adventures were had by Bender after this event, including a trip to a supposed alien base under Antarctica – shades of the Travis Walton abduction and other underground bases so popular in saucer lore – where he met the nine foot tall leader of the visitor race who offered him information about Earth’s moon that eerily corroborates information observed later by renowned psychic Ingo Swann and published in his fantastic book Penetration. It’s obvious at this point that Bender was very, very deep into the land of the fae and it’s at this point that he completely dropped the subject of UFOs and as Nick Redfern so succinctly puts it, “fled Ufology.”

There he remained in exile until coming briefly out of retirement in 1963 to publish Flying Saucers and the Three Men, his own account of his story as compared to the version Gray Barker laid out in his work They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers. Barker’s work is considered a seminal part of Ufological lore and cemented the pop culture image of the so-called Men In Black up until this day, even though the actual entities Bender described meeting were far different from Barker’s government agents.

Bender moved to Los Angeles, completely dropped the topic of UFOs and got very into music. He ended up outliving most of his contemporaries and one dares to wonder if his flight from the subject saved his life. One of the dangers of both magic and paranormal research is obsession, becoming so entrenched in your topic that you lose all grounding and context. It has been the sickness that has plagued some of the most brilliant minds of the subject and it seems that at the absolute depths of his own obsession, Bender was able to pull himself out. Perhaps his story can be both a stark warning about the dangers of these subjects and a reminder that sometimes it’s best just to drop it all and walk away.

From the perspective of the Fortean meta narrative, Bender’s story is a fascinating look at the intersection of the occult and ufology, two topics that are more intrinsically linked than most people realize or will care to admit. The parallels are there, for anyone to see, if we will just put our prejudices aside and look at the data. I’m not saying in any way that aliens are “demons” or anything of the sort. What I’m saying is that perhaps “demons” and “aliens” are both contextualizations created by our interactions with whatever lies beneath the masks of culture.

There’s a quote by Bender I’d like to leave you with. I’d like you to remember it whenever someone has a strange story to tell you.

“It is a lonely position you occupy when you have looked into the fantastic, and there is nobody to believe you have actually done so.”


Thy Fearful Geometry

It’s been a while since I posted to the site! Apologies, but I’ve been researching and working on a longer project that I’m not quite ready to reveal yet. I do have several items to post here, including a book review of Ryan Sprague’s wonderful Somewhere in the Skies and while I’m putting the finishing touches on that, I thought I’d tell you all a little bit more about my own experiences. I know how popular personal experiences are and so far I haven’t posted about them publicly anywhere, preferring to keep them in the company of friends. So, here we go, wish me luck.

I can’t promise that these two experiences will connect any dots. Both of them fit no patterns that I’m aware of. I’m not aware of any reports of similar experiences. If other people have encountered similar manifestations, I encourage them to contact me and let me know.

The first encounter is my singular UFO sighting. As I’ve mentioned, I had an interest in UFOs since I was a small child. I was raised on shows like Unsolved Mysteries and “The X-Files”. However, my first (and so far only) UFO experience didn’t fit the mold of any report I had encountered previously.

The sighting happened late fall 2002, when I was in my junior year of high school. At the time I was living in Alabama, in the town that I was born and raised in. By that time in my life most of my friends owned cars (I wasn’t so lucky) and we spent many nights just cruising around, or going to the abandoned places late at night where we’d talk and my friends would smoke illicit cigarettes.

One of those evenings, I’d gone to the band practice field near the high school with my then girlfriend, my friend K, and his girlfriend. The moon was full and high in the sky. We parked the car and the girls walked off together into the dark towards the wood line. K and myself walked in another direction into the middle of the practice field. The night was clear and cold. You could see dew reflecting the moonlight, condensed on the blades of grass. I don’t remember what we talked about, but I remember seeing something strange when I looked up towards the moon. Just below the moon, there was a tiny light, no more than a pinprick. It was solid white and did not flicker like a star. I would have just thought it was a star, had it not been dipping and diving, moving in figure eights around the bottom-right half of the moon.

“Do you see that?” I asked K.

“Yeah, I do, what is that?” he replied.

The impression it gave me was that the moon was an immense porch light and this luminous bead was a fly, buzzing around the light just like an insect would on a summer night. We both watched it for several minutes. I did not feel scared or even awed, just strangely confused. I started rationalizing immediately, not wanting to accept I was seeing something anomalous, despite my decade of desire for just that.

“It must be a star whose light is being bent by the gravitational field of the moon,” I suggested.

K seemed satisfied with this explanation. I was, after all, the kid who wanted to major in physics and go to Cal Tech. I was constantly walking around with books like Michio Kaku’s Hyperspace and trying to explain – in my limited teenage mind – the concepts of string theory to my friends. They rarely cared. In retrospect, this explanation makes no sense at all. The moon does not have a gravitational field strong enough to warp light to that degree; even if it did, that didn’t account for the buzzing movement.

The girls walked back over to where K and I were standing. We didn’t point out the object to them. Bored and deciding to call it a night, we went back to the car. The tiny white light was still buzzing around the moon as we pulled away and left it alone, out there. It was weeks before I came to the conclusion we had seen something anomalous in the sky. It still doesn’t fit into any other UFO report I’ve read or heard about.

The other experience, one that remains much stranger, happened when I was a few years younger. I wish I remembered my actual age, but so many times when I think back to my youth I exist in this perpetual fifth to sixth grade, eleven year old self image. I’ve never been very good at remembering my age during specific events, instead remembering things such as sights, smells and sounds much more vividly. So, I’ll ask that you forgive me for not remembering the exact year that this happened. I seem to remember it being after age eleven, but before – let’s say – age fifteen.

I had been in the Boy Scouts for a while then and loved the outdoors. Often, my dad would take my little brother and myself up into the mountains of Cheaha State Park in northern Alabama and we’d hike up a ways on the Pinhoti Trail, a massive hiking trail that crosses through Cheaha but goes from southern Alabama well into Northern Georgia, following the Appalachian Mountains.

It was fall. I remember the intense colors of the leaves: the red of the maples, the yellow of the sweetgum trees. At this point in my life I was an enthusiastic young adventurer; I loved being in the woods alone and hiking in front of the group, thinking of myself as a trailblazer or ranger. It’s no accident that I was reading through The Lord of the Rings at that age. It would be years before the movies, but even back then I wanted to be just like Aragorn, scouting the path for my comrades. During this hike with my little brother and dad, I was doing just that. I had walked faster than them all and was maybe five minutes ahead. In the section of the Pinhoti that traverses Cheaha it mostly winds around steep, rocky hills covered in trees with hollows and creeks below you. It was while coming around a bend in the trail I encountered something that I still can’t explain.

The first thing I saw on the other side of the hill, directly in front of me, were two enormous birds huddled together. They immediately startled and took wing, flying over my head and up, past the canopy and above the treeline. I believe they were turkey vultures: they were dark colored with whitish wings and bald heads. Only, at least in my memory, they were huge, much bigger than pictures of turkey vultures I’ve seen. Mind you, they weren’t fantastically large, but more the size of an eagle than a turkey vulture. Perhaps my being a smaller person then, combined with how much they startled me, contributes to my remembering them as so gigantic. However, it wasn’t the birds that truly scared me. As I stood there, heart racing from being nearly bowled over by two large birds, I started hearing a faint clanking sound coming from the hollow below me.

It sounded like someone was banging metal together down there, or a piece of machinery was cranking to life. Peering to see what was causing the noise, I saw something so bizarre that I still can’t put it into words that truly describe it. The best I can do is this:  I saw white and black polygons, roughly in the shape of a large cat, running around in the hollow. It was like I was seeing living geometry; something taken from a computer game and placed in real life. Because the black and white polygons were alternating, I immediately thought of a tiger’s stripes. When this collection of geometric figures moved, it seemed to be disturbing the leaves on the ground, and produced the metallic clanking sound I was hearing. It didn’t seem to be running towards me, but rather just moving around randomly.

I only stared at it for a second or two. Immediately my brain dumped adrenaline and every inch of my mind screamed at me to run away as fast as I could manage. I listened and that’s what I did: dashing out of there back towards my family as fast as I could. I was truly terrified. While running I was sure it was right behind me, chasing me down. My blood pounded in my ears and all I could hear were my footfalls. I tripped and fell, hurting my right ankle badly. Fighting through the pain, I jumped back up and limply hopped as quickly as possible, the adrenaline taking care of most of the pain.

Eventually I got back to my dad and little brother, who seemed startled to see me limping towards them, white as a ghost. I started babbling about what I saw, but my dad only laughed it off, teasing me about being scared by a couple of turkey vultures. I tried to get them to go back to the car, but he refused. Maybe he really did think I was just being imaginative. I was a moody child, prone to fantasy and a fan of horror and sci-fi movies, so he probably thought I was just making things up.

So, towards this indescribable horror we marched. And sure enough, when we got to the same bend in the trail, there was nothing. This just resulted in even more teasing. I shut up about what I saw and just hiked with them the rest of the way. Eventually it started getting dark so we headed back towards where we’d parked. We walked back without further incident, got in his pickup truck and drove back home.

To this day, he still teases me about the time I got spooked by the turkey vultures. I still think about seeing living geometry, running around and around in a hollow.

I have no answers about these two experiences. They were both exceedingly strange and I’ve never come close to being able to pick them apart. Mostly, these events are the reasons I never judge the reports of experiencers, preferring to take them at face value and examine them from a phenomenological standpoint. I also don’t judge those who believe that all this stuff is bogus – the product of fantasy, misidentification and charlatans. It’s difficult to break out of the materialist paradigm without something anomalous placing strain on the structure, creating cracks that show you the cosmos are far more strange than you could imagine. These events, combined with my out-of-body experiences, helped tear down that structure for me.

Another time we’ll go over my out-of-body experiences. They are interesting, but I can’t claim they are veridical to any degree. I hope you’ve enjoyed these two brief encounters with the anomalous, and hope you look forward to future articles. I’ll be back soon with more content, stay tuned.

Grey’s Anatomy

The image of large, black, insectoid eyes has haunted me since I was a child. Avidly consuming early nineties media about alien abduction firmly burned the image of the so-called “grey alien” into my young mind. I would imagine seeing them everywhere. They could be lurking behind any window at night, peeking around any open closet door, or peering at me from the tall grass or between trees in my wooded backyard.

I would dream about them showing up. One particularly vivid dream involved me waking up to my brother’s crying. We slept in bunkbeds at the time and I heard him whimpering and sobbing below me. As I peeked over the edge of the bed, I saw a small, spindly Grey watching him. In a moment of bravery and youthful bravado, I jumped over the edge of the bed right on top of the intruder, grabbing one of its huge eyes in my tiny hands and peeling it clean off its face, evoking a scream from the creature that I have never forgotten. The eye turned out to only be some sort of shield or visor. Underneath was an array of tiny red and green lights, like a field of stars. The memory of that dream stops there, gazing into the void of this screaming phantom’s destroyed eye.

This dream came back to me recently when I was looking up some information about Derrel Sims, mostly to have a laugh at some of the silly images that pop up when Googling him. On the page for Fade to Black radio about Sims, there’s a small image of a Grey with an eye exposed to a sort of red field with white dots around it. This resembled my dream memetically, if not the same in actual detail.

The page didn’t have any details, but I found this when doing more searching on it at BibliotecaPleyades:

In one case he investigated he told me that the woman struggled with a creature that had the same round eyes as his abductor. She managed to fight back and knocked out one of the alien’s eye shields, revealing its structure which was composed of five separate areas with little lines moving back and forth across the eye.

On another occassion, when I was 12 or 13 years old, a friend spent the night at my house. We slept in my room – by that time my brother and I had seperate rooms. That morning, after breakfast, he seemed nervous. When pressed, he told me that he’d woken up that evening and saw me sitting up in bed. Next to me was a Grey. We both looked down at him – he was in a sleeping bag on the floor – and I said to him in a completely monotone voice, “it’s okay, go back to sleep now.” At which point, he did exactly as I told him, and remembers nothing past that.

I honestly don’t know what to think of that account, or the constant dreams I had as a child. I’m still nervous at night, I still expect to see that face peering at me through a window or open a door and see it in the hallway. I have no conscious recollection of an actual abduction event, and none of the dreams I had involved me ever actually making it into a space outside of my house or bedroom. It’s entirely possible that these nightmares were simply a manifestation of my own anxieties and phobias. The boy who told me he saw me sitting next to the Grey went on to tell me lots of other fantastical stories over the years; many, if not all of them I heavily doubt.

I also have my doubts about the abduction experience occuring in physical reality. As someone who’s had numerous consciously controlled out-of-body experiences, and who has read numerous reports of these anomalous contact experiences occuring to people while they are under the effects of entheogens, I have a strong feeeling that this experience happens on some different plane of consciousness.

But, let’s just humor the idea, for a moment, that the Greys are a physical, flesh and blood creature. What kind of inferences can we make from their biology, and what would the implications of that data be?

While the image of the Grey “alien” seems bizarre and otherworldly, in the grand scheme of biology it is not. They are firmly and strikingly mammalian, having the same basic body configuration as every other primate on this planet. Imagine, for a moment, that you covered the body of a Grey in fur of some sort. Would they appear all that different from other simian species?

Even their faces are not totally unique and alien to our known animal kingdom. Look at this image of a golden snub-nosed monkey. Doesn’t it seem slightly familiar?

One aspect, an oft-reported tetradactyly, does throw a small wrench in my identification with other primates. From Wikipedia:

Tetradactyly (from Greek tetra-=”four” plus δακτυλος = “finger”) is the condition of having four digits on a limb, as in many amphibians, birds, and theropod dinosaurs. Some mammals also exhibit tetradactyly (for example pigs and the hind limbs of dogs and cats).

It is interesting that the tetradactyly is a condition most commonly found in birds, and formerly in dinosaurs, given that many reports of the Greys mention their “reptilian” skin or just flat-out say that they were reptilian in nature.

The lack of pigmentation in the skin and the large eyes could also be indicative of a subterranean existence or adaptation. This idea isn’t new, as this article explores. The pale skin could be due to a lack of melanin, not needed due to the lack of damaging UV. Large eyes could indicate either a primarily nocturnal existence, similar to other large-eyed animals such as tarsiers and owls, or it could also be an adaptation to a primarly subterranean lifestyle.

Whatever they might be, it should be obvious that the Greys are far too similar to lifeforms we can find right here on Earth to be extraterrestrial. People might cry that we’re witnessing some form of convergent evolution that occurred on different planets, but frankly Occam’s Razor shreds that right up. It’s much more simple and much more likely to posit that the Greys are from Earth, just like we are. The common narrative of abductions even includes the meme of hybridization and a story that the Greys are a “dying race” that need our genetic material to survive. This would not make even the tiniest smidgen of sense unless we were close genetic relatives. It would, however, make total sense if they were some sort of tiny, inbred branch of our genetic family tree.

As the aforementioned article reminds us, UFOs are commonly seen entering and exiting the ocean, lakes, rivers and into the very earth itself, sometimes even being spotted near volcanoes, such as during the eruption of Grímsvötn in Iceland in 2011. All this seems to indicate an origin that is more intraterrestrial than it is extraterrestrial.

The Shaver Mystery, the tall tales about Dulce and other underground bases, the strange story of the Green Children of Woolpit, the mythical city of Agartha: you need not look far to find that the meme of an underground race of technologically advanced beings permeates our popular culture and mythological framework.

What if, instead of watching the skies, we should be watching under our very feet?

Evidence is mounting for the existence of a staggeringly large underground ocean, far larger than the oceans on our surface. Given the propensity for UFOs to be seen in and around water, is it not possible they this subterranean ocean could be used as a super highway of sorts?

In the end, I still have serious doubts and misgivings about the physical reality of beings such as the Greys and tend to lean towards the idea that they are simply another denizen of the spirit ecology that surrounds us. Whatever they are, I’ll never forget that ocean of light I once saw behind that dark eye.


fare forward, voyagers

I got to thinking after listening to a wonderful episode of Seriah Azkath’s podcast Where Did the Road Go? where he talked about time travel with the philosopher and all-around extremely cool person Micah Hanks. Micah went over an idea that I was only faintly familiar with: the so-called “Thermodynamic Arrow of Time”. Essentially this idea is taken from the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states that in an isolated system (one in which energy is not being fed) entroy tends to increase with time. The implication is that time itself is asymmetrical with entropy. Since as far as we know, our universe is an isolated system, entropy is always increasing, so it is with time.

Since we evolved within this entropic, isolated system, we experience this Thermodynamic Arrow of Time and perceive time in a linear fashion: the “Psychological Arrow of Time” in which human perception and memory operates. It appears that the Psychological Arrow of Time aligns with the Thermodynamic Arrow of Time.

This article describes an experiement to demonstrate this: Scientists set up a system in which there are two chambers seperated by a wall with a rotor that shows a counter. One chamber is filled with an ideal-N number of particles that then, due to the entropy of the closed system, will eventually move to the empty chamber and create an equilibrium within the system. The rotor will show an abstracted, net number of particles that have migrated. The rotor will also impose generality – a requirement that states memory must have the capability of storing more than one variable – by measuring the momentum transfer of the particle movement on the rotor. This allows strong correlation of the results due to its direct interaction with the particles. All this goes to show that you could not correlate data if you had the ability to see directly into the “future” since would need to know exactly every state of each particle in the system at all times – an impossibility given the Uncertainty principle. This would imply that the Thermodynamic and Psychological Arrows of Time due to memory being unavailable without there being an ability to measure the system before equilibrium is reached.

Put even more simply, consider the basic problem of any sort of divination: if you were able to truly see “the future”, then you are also implying you know the state of each and every particle leading up to that future situation – an impossibility. Also, what’s to stop you from changing those factors, making your perceived future state moot? One might say that yes, obviously you’re only seeing one possible outcome among many, just one hallway down the Garden of Forking Paths. In that case, what’s the point? It’s no better than a guess. All things are possible, so this information from the future is not useful.

This would seem to say that “remembering forwards” is impossible, but is it?

More recently the field of quantum mechanics has put forth that the true putative cause of the Arrow of Time is actually quantum entanglement. The idea is that the Second Law of Thermodynamics does not explain entropy, rather entanglement is the cause of entropy, thus entanglement is the mechanism of the Second Law. Furthermore, it appears that entanglement is directly related to the process of causality. The perception of causality is a direct result of the Arrow of Time, a consequence of the Second Law, and thus caused by increasing entanglement. In other words “causing Change to occur in conformity with Will” creates those correlations between the subject and object that memory subsystems rely upon. Thus, per Seth Lloyd, “The arrow of time is an arrow of increasing correlations.”

“Finally, we can understand why a cup of coffee equilibrates in a room,” said Tony Short, a quantum physicist at Bristol. “Entanglement builds up between the state of the coffee cup and the state of the room.”

Now scientists are examining the possibility of temporal entanglement – the idea that the quantum correlations that make up entanglement can actually span time as well as space. This idea postulates that not only can two quantum events become correlated on a casual level, but they can become correlated in such a way that it is impossible to determine the cause and the effect. In fact, this perhaps suggest that the space-time we experience and inhabit is somehow constructed of this web of temporal correlations. Quantum field theory describes this to a greater effect. Effectively a field is a highly entangled (read: correlated) system. These correlations span not only physical space, but time as well.

This idea, that space-time is a web of entanglements stretching backwards and forwards and that we only perceive the arrow due to the forwards nature of these correlations is not a new one. For instance, consider the fact that in Hindi, the words for “yesterday” and “tomorrow” translate to the same word: कल or “kal” meaning “the day remote from today”. Embedded within that very language is the idea that time is not a linear process but rather a field that we are experiencing linearly.

The Buddhist concept of Samsara – that there is a constant cycle of death and rebirth in which we are all trapped – is similar to this. If time is indeed this flat circle, if past and present are only concepts for measuring our relation to this quantum field, then this cyclical idea makes sense. Maybe you have lived this life many times. Maybe you have lived many lives. Is consciousness bound to this cycle, trapped within (or limited to) this field? Memory certainly seems to be, but are memory and perception distinct from each other? Memory seems to be a consquence of the Arrow of Time, built and stored using our organic bodies, but perhaps perception can extend along the tangled web of quantum correlations.

Within Buddhism, the idea of Nirvana – or enlightenment – is the freeing of consciousness from the trappings of Samsara. The liberation of perception beyond the wheel of death and rebirth into a higher state, not bound by time or space. Many occult systems have similar end goals for the development of the operator; the works of Carlos Castenada and his descriptions of the teachings of Don Juan come to mind. Don Juan Matus explains that the final goal for a magician was to retain consciousness past death. In other words, not be reborn into another physical body and the suffer the loss of memory that is stored in the physical apparatus of the body.

I’ve been inching towards this, but I have a strong feeling that perhaps this web of quantum entanglement can help explain the underlying mechanics of PSI phenomena, or at the very least the phenomena of precognition. If all of the actions you have taken have entangled you with particles in a causal chain stretching back into the past to the beginning of time, is it possible to then examine the “state” of that entanglement? Perhaps the strength of correlation affects the ability to perceive that information. Perhaps this is why, if we have lived past lives, we don’t perceive that information readily due to having very weak casual correlations with those entangled particles. But, that correlation is there, allowing some mechanism within your consciousness to recall information that isn’t temporally local to you.

I find it striking that most precognitive experiences are subjective ones – that is, they are visions of the viewers future possibilities. Perhaps it is as simple as this: You remember the future because, in a sense, you’re already taken the actions that resulted in that future. You have to stop thinking about time as a linear function, but rather as a field. Those causal relationships that form entanglement don’t exist temporally, meaning that you are entangled with particles from the future as well as the past. I have a feeling that emotion also somehow functions on these entanglements. I couldn’t state any mechanism upon which this would work, just call it a hunch. Most people have visions of extreme events: disasters, love, sex, death, apocalypse, fire. The psychic strength these events generate perhaps serve to strengthen these entanglements, as if Thanatos and Eros were two beams of force within this temporal web.

But again, the transmission of information from the future along these entanglements is extremely tricky. As we’ve stated before, the web of future events relative to the viewer is a Garden of Forking Paths. It is made up of probabilities. Again though, perhaps more highly probable events create stronger correlations, making them “more visible” to the viewer. Or, another idea: Perhaps the cycle has run many times, the more probable events have occured many more times than improbable ones, strengthening the correlation due to repetition.

Once more, I feel science is finally catching up to what humans have known for thousands of years. It excites me. Rather than destroy the mystery of these occult practices, continued exploration into them – at least tangentially – by science allows us to better understand the framework upon which they operate. This allows us to use them more effectively and more precisely than ever before.

In closing, I’d like to leave you with a bit from T.S. Eliot’s poem “Four Quartets”:

O voyagers, O seamen,
You who came to port, and you whose bodies
Will suffer the trial and judgement of the sea,
Or whatever event, this is your real destination.’
So Krishna, as when he admonished Arjuna
On the field of battle.
Not fare well,
But fare forward, voyagers.


His name is Control

Like many people, I grew up immersed in the so-called “extra-terrestrial hypothesis” popularized during the 1990s by shows like “Sightings”, “Unsolved Mysteries”, and the – horrifying at the time – adaptation of Whitley Strieber’s Communion. I huddled under the sheets in my bedroom, scared out of my wits every single night that I would abducted by the Greys, spirited away to a UFO where I would be cut, probed, prodded, and experimented upon. I had nightmares about their scowling, almond-eyed faces. I had triumphant dreams where I fought back, tore them limb from limb with my nine year old hands, rejoiced in their fear and inhuman screams. The idea that Earth was under constant assault from alien forces, perhaps even guided and supported by our very government, was a given to me. I would lie on my back in my driveway every night, looking for strange lights in the sky, and would tell my teachers at school about the grand conspiracy being perpetrated against the human race.

And then, tired of my constant nightmares and inability to get a good night’s sleep, my parents wisely banned me from watching anything UFO or alien related. No more “Sightings”, no more “Unsolved Mysteries”. For a while, I forgot about those huge black eyes and strange lights zooming around in the night sky. However, this changed in the sixth grade, when I made friends with a new girl at school who told me that, without a doubt, she had been abducted by aliens and gave me a detailed account of her experiences. Suddenly, the whole top blew off again. The seminal conspiracy television show “The X-Files” debuted, and my friend and I watched it every single week. I began thinking about aliens again. Remembering the film adaptation of Communion, I went to the local library the summer before 7th grade and found they had a copy. I devoured it, always making sure to turn the book over every night so I wouldn’t wake up and see that face staring at me in the middle of the night.

Communion was an important book for me in a lot of ways. First and foremost, it planted the idea that perhaps the strange kidnapping creatures that Whitley and others were encountering were not from another planet at all. Strieber never refers to them as such, in fact going to great lengths to avoid making that statement. Secondly, I read Communion at around the same time I had my occult awakening, when I came into contact with both Wiccan and Kabbalistic ritual materials. Several of my close friends were dabbling in the occult, and I saw a heavy occult symbolism in the experiences that Whitley went through, and in the phenomena at large. I started to see cracks in the extra-terrestrial hypothesis.

What tore those cracks wide open, and shattered the ETH forever, however, was John Keel’s unparalleled work The Mothman Prophecies. My dad had an old, ragged copy of The Mothman Prophecies that I stole from him and had been reading, off and on, since I was in the third grade. Having little context for the book when I was that young, I simply enjoyed reading stories about monsters and UFOs. But, when I combined Keel’s thoughts on the phenomena found in Mothman with the skepticism introduced by Communion, I finally realized that the extra-terrestrial hypothesis, at least in the sense that aliens were travelling to this world in nuts-and-bolts spacecraft and doing experiments on human beings, was bogus.

In particular, Keel makes the following statement about the messages of UFO occupants in Chapter 12 of The Mothman Prophecies:

Even more interesting is the fact that the messages received by psychics everywhere bear remarkable similarities in content, even in phrasing. I have researched obscure contactee type books written two and three hundred years ago and have found the same identical messages and phraseology were prevalent then. Since much of this literature is very obscure and hard to find, and since many of our psychics and contactees are poorly read, it is doubtful if this is a question of fakers repeating the earlier material. Rather, it seems as if there is a phonograph in the sky endlessly repeating the same material generation after generation as if there were a crack in the record.

I started to see the similarities in messages presented to contactees such as Woodrow Derenberger and others was simply a repackaging of the ideas and messages presented to the prophets and shamans since the beginning of human history.

Jacques Vallée’s groundbreaking 1979 book Messengers of Deception proposes the idea that the UFO contact phenomena is, in a large part, a method of control exerted by some other intelligence in an attempt to manipulate human activity and culture through deception and myth creation.

Two passages from William Burroughs’ 1975 essay “The Limits of Control” stand out in particular when applied to the UFO contact phenomena. Consider the following:

But words are still the principal instruments of control. Suggestions are words. Persuasions are words. Orders are words. No control machine so far devised can operate without words, and any control machine which attempts to do so relying entirely on external force or entirely on physical control of the mind will soon encounter the limits of control.


A basic impasse of all control machines is this: Control needs time in which to exercise control. Because control also needs opposition or acquiescence; otherwise, it ceases to be control. I control a hypnotized subject (at least partially); I control a slave, a dog, a worker; but if I establish complete control somehow, as by implanting electrodes in the brain, then my subject is little more than a tape recorder, a camera, a robot. You don’t control a tape recorder – you use it. Consider the distinction, and the impasse implicit here. All control systems try to make control as tight as possible, but at the same time, if they succeeded completely there would be nothing left to control.

So much of the UFO contact phenomena seems to revolve around these attempts by some unknown force to guide humanity through some grandiose message. Much of the time this message seems to fall into two categories – that mankind must treat others with kindness and respect, or that mankind must prevent the planet from being destroyed by some force. In the case of the latter, this force seems to change depending on the anxieties (or perhaps the honest threats) of the era. In the atomic nightmare of the 40s and 50s, the message warned of imminent nuclear destruction should mankind continue to proliferate atomic weapons. Later, in the 80s and 90s, contactees were warned of environmental dangers, being told that mankind was on the path to destroy this planet through climate change. Whatever this intelligence is, at least on a surface level, it would appear to have our best interests in mind. But why?

One of the aspects of the contact phenomena is how it breeds hierarchy and creates prophets – or cult leaders – that bring humans together and create structure through which civilization and culture can develop. Terrence McKenna postulated that religion as a whole was inspired by the effects of entheogens such as psilocybin. It’s to be noted that many of the UFO contact experiences are similar to the visions experienced by users of enthogenic substances. While early homo sapiens likely had hierarchical structure similar to the structures existing in other primates, it appears that these contacts with – for lack of a better term – a Spirit World through either the use of entheogenic drugs or UFO contact style encounters created a new hierarchy: the shaman. Through the use of religion, these shamans – liaisons between common man and the spirits – were able to exercise control not strictly based on pure materialistic qualities. And through the revelation of magical techniques, these shamans were able to perform miracles and effect change in the environment in accordance with will, further cementing their structure, a structure revealed to them and guided by the hand of these extra-human intelligences.

While it doesn’t really touch on the more esoteric ideas I’ve presented here, you’d be well-served by checking out the excellent BBC World Service series “The Forum” and their four part series on hierarchy in humans. I’m placing the link in the sources at the end of the article.

So it appears that some external (alien, if you will) intelligence that may or may not be extra-terrestrial in origin has been subtly manipulating mankind’s social strucutres for the majority of human history through hallucinatory encounters with otherworldly beings and strange lights in the sky. These encounters are perhaps the only way this intelligence can communicate with humanity. Perhaps it has as much trouble trying to talk to us as we would have attempting to communicate with a hive of ants.

This co-creation aspect to the phenomena is vastly interesting to me. Vallée’s other groundbreaking work, Passport to Magonia, exposed thoroughly that UFO contact phenomena had been going on as long as there had been recorded history. He showed that the phenomena melded itself and manifested using the imagery relevant to the era. It’s not just that people in the 1400s could only describe a UFO as a flying ship, they literally saw a flying ship – anchor, sails, and sailors included. It’s not that they misinterpreted a space alien for a winged angel, they actually saw a winged angel. Just as people saw mysterious flying airships in the 1800s, so did observers in the 1950s see the flying saucers popularized by their movies and television shows. The vast array of monsters and weirdos present in the UFO contacts of the 1950s, 60s and 70s is because there was no central meme that pervaded popular culture. It wasn’t until the ubiquitous image of the Grey was thrust into the forefront of the experience by the Betty and Barney Hill case, the works of Bud Hopkins and Strieber’s cover for Communion did the meme of the Grey solidify and dominate the narrative. I don’t believe that the phenomena manifests itself using these memes intentionally, but rather these are the building material it has to pull from human consciousness in order to manifest. Again the analogy of the human trying to communicate with the ant. Our only way to get the ant to move in the way we want it to move is to gently nudge it, scare it perhaps, or shine a magnifying glass that’s amplifying the rays of the sun.

But again, why? Why do these intelligences have this invested interest in humanity in particular?

Many ufologists and researches endlessly concern themselves with the “how” of the phenomena. While I also find the “how” extremely compelling and have plenty of my own theories about it, ultimately I don’t believe that’s the important question to ask. It’s quite possible that this question is fundamentally unanswerable. Maybe trying to determine how the phenomena manifests or affects human consciousness in the way it does is akin to attempting to explain to a two-dimensional being what a sphere is. We utterly lack a context for the information.

A better question, I think, is “why”. Why would a supernatural, possibly external intelligence be attempting to communicate with us? Is it perhaps out of pure curiosity? We keep pets such as dogs and cats and speak to them, but they are fundamentally incapable of understanding our intentions or language, except on some empathic level. Although, given the high strangeness of the phenomena at large, perhaps it’s fallacy to believe there is any logic to it that a human being can understand. Even further along that path, there’s no reason the intelligence behind it has to have a motive at all – to think otherwise is to anthropomorphize a phenomena that is likely anything but human. I’ll leave you with a quote by Damon Knight – famously misattributed to Charles Fort by Keel in his closing line to The Mothman Prophecies – that still resonates with me, and that I try to remember whenever I explore this world:

If there is a universal mind, must it be sane?


  1. Keel, J. 1975. The Mothman Prophecies. New York: Saturday Review Press and E. P. Dutton. ISBN 0-8415-0355-9.
  2. Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults (paperback ed.). Ronin Publ. June 1979. ISBN 0-915904-38-1
  5. BBC World Service – The Forum: Hierarchy –

Thoughts on Sasquatch

According to modern anthropology, the last uncontacted person in North America – a person who has completely avoided contact with the modern global culture – stumbled out of the woods in 1911 near Mount Lassen in northern California and into the current human age. His name was Ishi, the last of the Yahi Native American tribe. Completely lacking in resistance to the virulent germs of modern Americans, he contracted tuberculosis and died five years later.

With Ishi’s death, anthropologists closed the book on the possibility of there still being uncontacted tribes or peoples in North America. South America was a different story, however. Even today there are still estimated to be hundreds of uncontacted tribes spread across Amazonia, fugitives from our modern world and its nightmares.

I’ve recently been reading through Petru Popescu’s incredible book about Loren McIntyre’s time among the uncontacted Mayoruna natives in Brazil, “Amazon Beaming”. The title of the book refers to a phenomenon that McIntyre describes in which he makes some sort of non-verbal contact with the head shaman of the tribe, and observes a background hum of non-verbal communication going on amongst the people of the tribe. This “beaming” isn’t exactly like telepathy. McIntyre doesn’t actually share a verbal language with the Mayoruna. Instead, it is described more as an empathic telepathy. He receives impressions from the transmitting headsman that he then puts into his own mental language.

My own theory about this “beaming” is that it is a form of empathic non-verbal communication that humans must have developed and used to transmit ideas and emotions before the advent of structured language. However, this “beaming” has its own limitations. While the headsman of the tribe is extremely well versed and capable in this language, the other tribal members seem not to be. It appears to be less outwardly useful than an actual verbal language, more seeming to foster some sense of group belonging and cohesion than a valid method of communication. Perhaps this ability is inherit to all humans, it’s just that we lose the ability early in life once we start learning language. Language, both verbal and written is simply more useful and supersedes the “beaming”. Perhaps it serves some biological function, keeping a mother and child emotionally in sync with one another. Before a child can verbally tell their mother what they need, maybe this “beaming” is a method of making the mother feel what the child needs, without the requirement they share a language.

McIntyre worries that this “beaming” is simply his mind’s way of coping with this situation of extreme loneliness and inability to communicate with other human beings. When he finally meets a Mayoruna from another group that speaks some Portugese, the hum of the group telepathy seems to fade away. I’m still working through this amazing book and I’m excited about reading further developments.

The concept of this “beaming” and the prospect that very primitive man primarily communicated via a kind of emotional telepathy got me thinking about the creatures commonly referred to as Bigfoot, or Sasquatch.

Typically, Sasquatch research falls into two major camps. On one hand, you have the hard cryptozoological approach in which Sasquatch are flesh and blood creatures, ape-man beasts that appear from time to time in remote wooded areas of North America and elsewhere. Similar creatures appear in legends all over the world, and seem to indicate some sort of common shared myth or cultural memory. The other camp holds a non-materialist point of view on the Sasquatch phenomena, believing that they are somehow perhaps non-physical apparitions, or dimension hopping beings from some alternate universe. This view usually cites the fact that often other anomalous phenomena such as UFOs are seen in vicinity to Bigfoot sightings, similar to how the Mothman and other cryptids infested Point Pleasant, West Virginia during the UFO flap described in John Keel’s “The Mothman Prophecies”.

I tend to agree with researcher Micah Hanks on his statements on the non-materialistic view of Sasquatch in that explaining an anomalous phenomena with another anomalous phenomena doesn’t actually explain anything. However, I’d like to posit later in this post that maybe, just maybe, both camps can be right on this one, without actually contradicting each other.

Now, about the strict materialist, cryptozoologist approach to Sasquatch. I believe that perhaps by treating Sasquatch as a “creature” is clouding the research and is a major – and likely wrong – assumption about whatever they are. The fallacy here is that since they appear bestial – giant hairy ape men that wear no clothes and carry no tools – they must be primitive beasts. Human exceptionalism is a trap that we must avoid. We as a species have a tendency to view life other than ourselves as not as advanced as us, primitive. As if our ability to create tools has elevated us to some evolutionary peak.

So, we tend to think of ourselves as an exceptional species. We have language! We have tools! But that’s not an entirely unique thing among the life on this world. Research is even starting to indicate that huge networks exist among plants and trees using fungus as a medium. These vast fungal networks link the individual members of a forest and allow them to communicate danger to one another. Typically when talking about the evolution of mankind, we present another primate like chimpanzees or gorillas as an example of primitive man. This is patently false. Chimps and other primates are just as evolved as us, we share common ancestors. We just happened to be burdened with very strange brains.

The most recent figures about the extinction of the Neanderthal place the last of them dying around 40,000 years ago. If you really think about that date, this is incredibly recent, probably less than 1,568 generations of homo sapiens. As homo sapiens came into contact with Neanderthal, we naturally competed with them. We raped them and we murdered and ate them. Eventually what was left was fully absorbed into our gene pools as homo sapiens emerged the supreme hominid in the Old World. Neanderthal don’t exist today except in genetic vestiges – as seen in my freckles and my brother’s red hair – because we destroyed them utterly. What other hominids did we genocide or absorb into our gene pool? What other hominids attempted to do the same to us?

Cultures all over the world have their own Sasquatch legends and I think it’s no surprise that majority of these legends are wary of the creatures, describing them as men-stealers, cannibals, not to be trusted and definitely to be feared.

The diary of Elkanah Walker, a missionary in Washington in the mid-1800s  had this to say:

“Bear with me if I trouble you with a little of their superstitions. They believe in a race of giants, which inhabit a certain mountain off to the west of us. This mountain is covered with perpetual snow. They (the creatures) inhabit the snow peaks. They hunt and do all their work at night. They are men stealers.

They come to the people’s lodges at night when the people are asleep and take them and put them under their skins and to their place of abode without even waking. Their track is a foot and a half long. They steal salmon from Indian nets and eat then raw as the bears do. If the people are awake, they always know when they are coming very near by their strong smell that is most intolerable. It is not uncommon for them to come in the night and give three whistles and then the stones will begin to hit their houses.”

I’m also reminded of the story of La Ciudad Blanca, a legendary city purportedly located in Honduras and alleged to have been seen by Charles Lindbergh while flying over eastern Honduras. A great city of white stone deep in the dense jungle, it is said to be there still, swallowed up by the voracious foliage and left to ruin. If we read into the lore surrounding the White City, there are some interesting connections with Sasquatch lore. American adventurer Theodore Morde wrote in the early 1940s about legends related to him by local Nahuat natives:

“The native name for monkey is Urus, which translates literally into ‘sons of the hairy men.’ Their fathers, or fore-fathers, are the Ulaks, half-man and half-spirit, who lived on the ground, walked upright and had the appearance of great hairy ape-men.”

These giant, hairy “half-spirit” men apparently stole women from the village to use as breeding stock (or so the natives believed) and created half-breed children. The natives banded together, razed the city and killed all of the Ulaks.

Compare this to the legends of the Paiute natives of North America and their extermination of the “Si-Te-Cah” a race of giant red-haired cannibals who lived in the area of ancient Lake Lahontan in northern Nevada. The Si-Te-Cah would raid the villages of the natives, stealing and eating their people. Eventually the local tribes banded together and forced the Si-Te-Cah into Lovelock Cave, where they set fire to the cave and exterminated the giants.

Stories of these conflicts seem to be common in native cultures of the Americas. Indeed, stories of conflict between man and “giants” goes back as far as you can explore in human folklore and mythology.

So, what if Sasquatch weren’t a “primitive” creature or ape? What if Sasquatch are us, or at least close to it? What if Sasquatch were another offshot of a common human ancestor, like Neanderthal or homo floresiensis, the “hobbit people” of the South Pacific?

What if, when modern humans migrated to the Americas during the last Ice Age, they found another hominid species already here? What if they fought and killed one another, and perhaps even interbred? This offshot, driven to near extinction by modern humans, had to go into hiding. They would have even been selected for traits that allowed them to hide in the wilderness from murderous homo sapiens. And this brings me back to Popescu’s “Amazon Beaming”. What if this offshot also used this non-verbal communication method? What if they honed it, developed it, became extremely good at using it? What if they could us it to hide?

People often describe feeling “strange” in the woods before some sort of anomalous encounter, gripped by a sensation they are being watched or driven nearly to panic by a sense of extreme anxiety. Keel described a “zone of terror” in “The Mothman Prophecies”. In David Paulides’ “Missing 411” investigations, victims often describe feeling uneasy or watched before leaving the group and disappearing forever. What if this was a manifestation of this non-verbal communicative ability being exhibited by a being that was trying to drive away threats?

People forget how utterly enormous and empty large swathes of the American wilderness still are. The idea that we have discovered everything that can be discovered out there is ludicrous. If there are still uncontacted, undocumented human tribes living in the depths of the Amazon, I don’t find it incredibly hard to believe that a closely related species of hominid that has been selected for an ability to hide themselves and possibly possessing some sort of method for influencing the emotions or minds of other hominids could still be hiding in small groups in North America. Lots of people don’t see Bigfoot because Bigfoot doesn’t want to be seen. I suspect that a large proportion of the encounters that are described are with juveniles, perhaps not as cautious as their elders and more prone to fits of anger or attack, culminating in events like the Ape Canyon incident of 1924, where a group of miners was allegedly attacked throughout the night by a group of Sasquatch.

Now, a couple of things stick out here. If Sasquatch are material, real beings it seems obvious that they do not want to be part of our society and want to be left alone. In the best case they never make contact with humans and in the worst case, they may attack and kill humans found encroaching alone in their territory. If this is true, and these are creatures with a level of intelligence and culture – thinking of The White City – comparable to modern humans, what right do we have to hunt them down still, to bring “evidence” of them to the rest of humanity? Also, contact with isolated tribes has historically been tragic for the tribes. Having no resistances to the germs and viruses of modern humans, many of them die or have to be given urgent medical care. If the Sasquatch really are as small in number and rare as they appear to be, couldn’t we be putting the entire species or tribe in grave danger by attempting contact? Finally, if this is a closely related c0usin to humanity, a form of life that for all intents and purposes are our brothers and sisters on this planet, moreso than any other living creature today, what right do we have to hunt them? If you were to kill one of them, it would be tantamount to the murder of any other human being. Given these presumptions, I believe that anyone seriously considering so-called “Bigfoot Hunting” rethink their motivations.

Now, a couple of thoughts about the non-materialist view of Sasquatch. While I tend to fall towards the physical nature of the phenomena as evidence of its material existence, I will also admit that other weird phenomena sometimes surround Sasquatch encounters. Given that humans have probably encountered, fought with, killed and have been killed by these creatures for untold millenia, it would be no surprise if some archetype of them existed deep within our collective consciousness, similar to why people seem to be instinctively frightened of snakes. We carry a memory of our predation; we carry this violence in our very genes. If we lean towards the type of explanations of anomalous phenomena put forth by researchers like Greg Bishop: that we are “co-creators” of the phenomena we are encountering, perhaps these stranger Sasquatch encounters are us taking these collective memories of these creatures and manifesting them in the experience. In this way, both the non-materialist and materialist views of Sasquatch can be true and occurring. Maybe there really are physical beings, and there are also manifestations of our collective memories and fears.

Half-man, half-spirit.