Chapter 5.  Visitors from Space?

The Old Testament gives some impressive descriptions in which God alone or his angels fly straight down from heaven making a tremendous noise and issuing clouds of smoke. One of the most original descriptions of such incidents comes to us from the prophet Ezekiel. … Ezekiel gives precise details of the landing of this vehicle. He describes a craft that comes from the north, emitting rays and gleaming and raising a gigantic cloud of desert sand. Now the God of the Old Testament was supposed to be omnipotent. Then why does this almighty God have to come hurtling up from a particular direction? Cannot he be anywhere he wants without all this noise and fuss?

Most of our readers will immediately recognise the above passage as a typical specimen of Erich von Däniken’s Chariots of the Gods? (1968).

It is a fact that, with a little pushing and pulling, the vision of Ezekiel (as orthodox theologians call it) can be made to look like an extraterrestrial visitation. If one squints a little, holds the thing upside down, and really tries hard, as Joseph F. Blumrich did, then one can write a whole book about Ezekiels’s close encounter of the von Däniken kind.

Mr Blumrich was an engineer with NASA who began by reading von Däniken for mild amusement, but who ended up being converted to the faith. It was this very vision of Ezekiel which particularly attracted his attention as an aerospace engineer, and the results of comparing the biblical narrative with modern technology led him to publish The Spaceships of Ezekiel in 1974.

Spaceship seen by Ezekiel, according to Blumrich

Fig. 5.1

The craft seen by Ezekiel, according to Mr Blumrich, was like that shown in Fig. 5.1 – a fairly compact, highly manoeuvrable shuttle-craft. The mother-ship, incidentally, would probably have occupied a polar orbit some 350–400 km above the Earth’s surface. However, Mr Blumrich shows how the craft of Fig. 5.1 gave rise to the descriptions of it recorded in the text of Ezekiel. For example, the four supports with helicopter rotors were “the likeness of four living creatures” (Ezek. 1.5) and the landing pads “the soles of their feet” (Ezek. 1.7). “The likeness of a throne” (Ezek. 1.26) was, of course, the command module up on top.

Nor does Mr Blumrich flinch at the awkward bits of Ezekiel’s description. We refer here to the verses that sound the least bit like a spaceship, and which Mr von Däniken conveniently swept under the carpet in his book. For example, consider Ezek. 1.10, referring to the four living creatures:

As for the likeness of their faces, they four had the face of a man, and the face of the lion, on the right side; and they four had the face of an ox on the left side; they four also had the face of an eagle.

Simulacra, Mr Blumrich claims. They were no more lions and eagles and so forth than are the faces an animals that we see today in the clouds or in the faded paintwork on the bathroom wall. In support of this claim he gives a picture of a full-frontal Gemini space-capsule which he points out could easily be described as “an abysmally solemn face”.

Again, when Ezekiel uses the expression “the hand of the Lord being strong upon me”, orthodox scholars regard it as evidence for the visionary nature of the experience. Not so for Mr Blumrich. Ezekiel chapter 3 describes the prophet’s first trip in a spaceship (a sort of Biblical Adamski) and “the hand of the Lord” was Ezekiel’s attempt to describe the effects of multiple g-force.

One advantage of writing a book on Independent Thought in general is that one can venture into realms where no UFO enthusiast has been before. That is just what we intend to do by introducing Mr Geoffrey Hodson into the proceedings. Whereas every biblical reference to an angel or a vision of God sends von Däniken and his followers into UFOria, they had quite a different effect on Mr Hodson (he died in 1983).

He was an expert on angels – and by that we mean angels and not misinterpreted spacemen – and he wrote a book called The Kingdom of the Gods (1952) in which he described his encounters with them. Angels not being at all photogenic, Mr Hodson had an artist friend paint some rather charming pictures of them and these are beautifully reproduced in his book.

Here is one interesting snippet very reminiscent of biblical angels:

The appearance of the angels is also remarkable to human sight on account of the continual play of energy within and through their glowing auras. … In the auric discharges definite forms are produced, which sometimes suggest a crown upon the head and outspread wings of brilliant and ever changing hues.

In the introduction to his book, Mr Hodson describes how at the onset of an angelic encounter “the heavens suddenly become filled with light” and how his consciousness was “caught up into a realm radiant with that light.”

We wonder if Mr von Däniken, were he to meet Mr Hodson, would try to persuade him that he had really seen an alien or a UFO, or whether the argument would go the other way about.

Nevertheless, Mr Hodson considers that Ezekiel’s vision describes his encounter with the Archangels of Light. These are four in number and are sometimes called the Devarajas of the Four Quarters of the compass. In Judaism they are represented as a cherub with four faces – those of a man, an eagle, a lion and an ox – thus explaining that curious passage in Ezek. 1.10 without having recourse to extraterrestrial simulacra.

We both tend to remain stubbornly orthodox over the issue of what Ezekiel saw. To us, the garbled descriptions, the flashing lights and the terrible noises sound too much like the symptoms of mental derangement to be otherwise – but then that view might just be our simulacrum! To which we should add that, given a little imagination, one can ‘see’ all sorts of things in the Bible – witness the fact that in 1863 one Tresham Dames Gregg published a little book under the self-explanatory title of The Steam Locomotive as revealed in the Bible! The vision of Ezekiel chapter 1 features prominently in it.… There is no doubt about it, Mr Gregg claimed, Ezekiel had a premonition of a steam train!

Though von Däniken claims that many biblical incidents were inspired by alien encounters, he nowhere says that the aliens intended it to happen that way. Barry H. Downing’s theory, though, is quite different. Mr Downing firmly believes that Christianity wasn’t just influenced by alien encounters, it was instigated by them. The biblical religion, he claims, from Old Testament to New, was manufactured and moulded by beings from another world and under God’s supervision. The UFOs are still with us, so presumably the aliens are still keeping an eye on their handiwork.

Mr Downing’s book The Bible and Flying Saucers was published in 1968, the same year as von Däniken’s. Like von Däniken he sees Abraham, Ezekiel and Elijah as contactees, or at least witnesses of alien visitations, but, unlike von Däniken, he sees them all as connected links in a chain. Each encounter was a step towards the ultimate goal of Christianity.

The first major step in the process was the extra-terrestrial stage-management of the Exodus.

Moses, Mr Downing tells us, was given powers by the spacemen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. The Exodus was guided by a UFO – the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night. The parting of the Red Sea was accomplished by an anti-gravity beam, and the Burning Bush was neither more nor less than a glowing UFO in a thicket.

The role of clouds in all this is definitely odd. The pillar of cloud was clearly under divine control. In Psalm 68.4 we read: “lift up a song to him who rides upon the clouds.” In Exodus 34.5, the Lord himself descends upon a cloud and in Acts 1.9, Jesus is lifted up in a cloud. As Mr Downing says, “Ordinary white, fluffy cumulus clouds do not carry people off into space” – and we find it hard to disagree with that.

Christ, of course, was an alien, the events of his birth being stage-managed by spacemen under the supervision of God. The Star of Bethlehem was clearly a UFO, and did not Christ himself say, in John 8.23, “I am not of this world.”

In terms of extraterrestrial capabilities, the miracles, the transfiguration, the ascension and the resurrection take on new meaning. As for Christ’s mysterious appearance within a locked room, described in John 20.19, well:

If we can suppose, however, that we live in the midst of an invisible spatially curved resurrection universe, then perhaps Jesus came through a space tunnel into the room where the disciples were gathered with the door locked.

Christ already hinted as much in John 14.2 when he said, “In my father’s house are many mansions.” If walls be viewed as the boundaries of curved space, then rooms become dimensions and the many mansions parallel universes. Well, that is Mr Downing’s view, though we would point out that other Independent Thinkers with a leaning towards Karmic Cycles rather than UFOs cite the same “many mansions” verse as evidence of the compatibility of Christian belief and reincarnation. Each mansion becomes a different earth-life, but then that is another story that we won’t go into here.

UFOs have added a whole new dimension to biblical interpretation, particularly when it comes to the study of the Second Coming, the Resurrection and the End of the World.

Mr Downing, for example, considers Matthew 24.30 to mean that at the Second Coming, Christ will appear with a whole fleet of UFOs and an army of aliens. The verse in question refers to “the Son of Man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.”

Another dramatic reinterpretation of the Bible in extraterrestrial terms comes in Gerhard Steinhauser’s book Jesus Christ, Heir to the Astronauts (1973).

Mr Steinhauser does not claim that Christ was an astronaut, or even the son of one. Rather he claims that the historical Jesus was one of several zealous holy men of that time who was more or less ‘set up’ by St. Paul as the ‘true’ messiah. Paul, according to Mr Steinhauser, was a superb messianic ‘agent’ or PR man, and to promote his messiah, he grafted onto the life story of the “miracle making rabbi from Palestine” a few fictional extras based on various middle eastern myths. Mr Steinhauser claims, for example, that the Star of Bethlehem, the virgin birth, the ability to walk on water and to raise the dead, plus the resurrection and ascension to heaven were all mythological addenda to the life of Christ concocted by the over-zealous St. Paul.

But these myths that St. Paul so neatly adapted, where did they come from? Ultimately, Mr Steinhauser reckons, they can all be traced back to extraterrestrial encounters thousands of years ago. Let us take, for example, the idea of the virgin birth, or what amounts to the same thing, of supernatural impregnation. Legends of such births abound in world mythology. The Babylonian hero Gilgamesh had such a birth, for example, and in the Old Testament itself, Samson owed his existence to supernatural intervention. Mr Steinhauser is pretty sure he holds the key to such stories, and he described their original model in frank but graphic terms. The ‘gods’, of course, are ancient astronauts:

It would appear that gods holding subordinate rank were amusing themselves on Earth, posing as emissaries of the Lord, sleeping with the wives of the mortals and vanishing without revealing name or rank – a tradition among soldiers of all times. … Left behind were the earthmen and their impregnated wives, and, to cap it all, they regarded the whole event as miracle and grace.

We emphasise that this is not to say that Mary was impregnated by an unscrupulous spaceman. In fact, Mr Steinhauser claims, Jesus was actually the illegitimate offspring of Mary’s affair with a soldier called Pandera, but of course, St. Paul couldn’t print that sort of thing. Accordingly, he adopted the virgin birth motif, and grafted it onto his messiah’s life story:

Of course, his story was no more new and original than most of the other stage properties of the Pauline Messiah story; virgin conception and virgin birth originate from models which are thousands of years old, and thus from the gods; and any ‘son of god’ of that era had to be of divine-virgin birth. His public expected it of him, just as today they expect film stars and top sportsmen and women to be and to remain unmarried. … Considered from this angle, the whole story of ‘Jesus, Son of God’ is nothing but the last yellowed copy of a film which was shot umpteen thousand years ago.

Not only this, but in passing we should note that some of the illicit offspring of the gods with earthly wives ended up floating down the river in a basket – which immediately explains the origin of the Moses legend!

Noah’s Ark, the Garden of Eden, the Ark of the Covenant, the Tabernacle, and the parting of the Red Sea – all these things and more – are legends based on encounters with the space gods and their ‘magical devices’ many thousands of years ago. Christian baptism, too, is nothing more than a partial memory of the gods’ ‘splashdown’ into the sea when they first arrived on Earth:

As they came down from heaven, gods plunged into the water and emerged again: man is merely emulating them.

The idea of symbolic cleansing associated with the act of baptism, Mr Steinhauser claims, probably only came much later.

Even the very architecture of our churches and cathedrals carries distant memories of the way the gods went about their business. At least, that is how Mr Steinhauser sees it. Personally we find it hard to believe that a church spire is “an attempt to copy the gods’ rockets” or that the steps to the pulpit are, like Jacob’s Ladder, a copy of the rope ladder by which the gods climbed into their spaceships prior to ascending to heaven.

But Mr Steinhauser doesn’t just speculate on biblical matters, their mythological forerunners and their space-god origins. Fearlessly – some archaeologists would say “recklessly” – he speculates that the famous Sun Gate of Tiahuanaco is a copy of one of the space-gods’ energy gates into the fifth dimension. The gods, he explains, had three methods of space travel – ordinary spaceships, physical transformation, and “zero-time transport through energy gates”. The second of these was the basis for St. Paul’s account of Christ’s resurrection, and the last the basis for a number of mysterious legends connected with gateways and doors – for example, the Gates of Paradise, not to mention the custom of carrying a bride over the threshold.

Again, Mr Steinhauser tackles the knotty problems of the location of Hell; why the seedless banana hasn’t become extinct; and whether or not the Abominable Snowman is a remnant of a sub-human species of slave developed by the gods thousands of years ago. Add to these the origin of jewellery, dragon legends, magic swords and laser beams, not to mention Mr Steinhauser’s extraordinary idea that in the dim and distant past children were sacrificed to make cosmetics for spacemen! Our favourite quote from Mr Steinhauser’s book, though, is this one. It has nothing to do with space gods or UFOs, but we simply cannot resist quoting it:

The humble Jewess Miriam presumably had as much trouble with her son Jesus as any of today’s mothers whose offspring become hippies.

Like Mr Downing earlier, Reginald A. Bradbury, long-time editor of the monthly newsletter The Kingdom Voice, agreed with the view that at the Second Coming, Christ may well appear with a fleet of UFOs. In the August 1969 issue, under the heading “The Biblical Significance of the UFO Phenomena”, he wrote:

In our considered view the great manifestations of Divine Power in ancient times, with their very clear association with ‘clouds’ gives an indication that when Jehovah ‘spoke out of the cloud’ to His assembled Nation, that He was in fact broadcasting from the communication centre of a Great Space-Ship. …

Similarly when the Father spoke to Jesus, Moses and Elijah ‘out of the cloud’ – He was using what to us is a modern technique for speaking to great open air gatherings … yet again from a Space-Ship. …

Finally, when the Son of Man comes ‘with the clouds of heaven’ – the gleaming ‘chariots of God’ will appear. First, to Air-Lift His believing Saints ‘in the clouds’ (see 1st Thessalonians 4.17) and finally to take over World Government, when He establishes His righteous rule.

In the same issue Mr Bradbury outlines the mission of the UFOs:

The Heavenly Hosts of Jehovah look down with sad compassion upon a Planet torn by strife, ‘nation against nation’; racial tensions; crime, lust and drug-addiction sapping the fibre and destroying the character and security of our vaunted ‘civilisation’ etc etc.

They await the divine Command to intervene, as and when the peoples of this Fallen Planet cry out for deliverance to the Divine Father.

On the same theme, this time in the October 1972 issue, Mr Bradbury wrote:

Other worlds are observing us; watching us; waiting for us. They stand, as it were, in the corridors of eternal time. The Messengers of God, the Angelic Hosts, the Ambassadors of Other Universes, the ‘old souls’ of great wisdom and experience, of deep love and compassion weep for a world that has lost its way, and has strayed from the Everlasting Arms of the Great Father – God, whose mighty power holds the vast galaxies in the Hollow of His Hand.

In July 1973, Mr Bradbury began a series of articles under the title, “How Near is the End?”, though by “End” he meant the end of the current Age, as opposed to the physical destruction of the Earth, as preferred by other propheteers.

The End of the World, of course, has always been “nigh”. Traditionally there are ten signs that the end is near, and amongst these are wars, earthquakes, famines and widespread iniquity. Because these are all ever-present at least somewhere in the world, this has tended, in the past, to promote the illusion that the end was nigh even when it wasn’t.

True, the collapse of the Ottoman Empire in 1917–18 could be seen as the fulfilment of an important prophecy. One could see in it the fabled ‘End of the Time of the Gentiles’, which was very widely acclaimed to signify the approach of the end in surer terms than earthquakes and pestilences. But, as Mr Bradbury points out, one other equally important prophecy still remained unfulfilled – which is where UFOs come in.

One of the ten signs mentioned above predicts that just before the End, “great signs shall there be from heaven” (Luke 21.11). This prophecy is given in even more graphic form in Isaiah 66.15:

For behold the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots, like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury and his rebuke with flames of fire.

Of course, UFOs have been coming and going for over sixty years now, so it would appear at first glance that the heavenly hosts are rather sluggish at getting things going, but then when you’re a god or an astronaut, what is a mere sixty years?

Mr Bradbury did not attempt to answer the question, “How near is the End?” in precise terms, but in the fourth article of the series of that title (October 1973), he did quote Mr Yul Verner’s letter of 12th August 1973. Mr Verner had rather more definite ideas and in his letter to Mr Bradbury firmly hinted that the Great Judgement Day, a symbolic ‘day’ of 24 years, would begin with the period November 1973 to November 1974. May 1975, he added, would see the coming of the Sun of Justice. We presume that Mr Verner went back to the drawing board as the appointed day passed peacefully by, but alas, we do not know with what results.

But what about possible contacts with the denizens of other worlds?

One of the contactees of the late 1950s was Howard Menger, who related his adventures with aliens in a book called From Outer Space To You (1959).

Mr Menger’s contacts came mainly from Venus, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, though he does say that one or two came from further afield. They told him that he was a unit in a world-wide system of human contactees and that the purposes of contact were to help guide humanity to a higher level of civilisation. This help was to be on technological as well as spiritual planes.

As is usual in contactee tales such as this, there are dire warnings against the follies of nuclear warfare, biological pollution and over-dependence on the artificial aids of modern life. The way to higher levels of development, Mr Menger was told, lay in a greater emphasis on spiritual welfare, vegetarianism, yoga and the study of metaphysics. Our society needs to be more conservation-minded, to have a greater regard for Nature, and to learn that it is we who must rule the machines, not the other way round.

Mr Menger claimed to have had a large number of contacts with the space people and even took some rather fuzzy photographs of saucers and their pilots to back up his story. He was also taken for trips in flying saucers, a couple of times to the Moon and once to Venus.

On one of his trips to the Moon he describes an alien lavatory, and mentions in passing that he ate a vegetarian meal which included nuts from other planets. His landing on the Moon comes complete with descriptions of cloud formations, panoramic views of dome-shaped buildings and exotic vegetation. In an alien space terminal he paused to watch TV programmes from other planets and to sip alien drinks served by alien waitresses. Then it was off on a lunar train for a sightseeing tour and a visit to a sort of interplanetary world fair.

Venus was “fantastically beautiful”, Mr Menger assures us, with well planned zones of habitation harmoniously set into natural surroundings of lush vegetation and large bodies of water. He mentions Venusian vehicles (but without wheels) and gives a brief description of Venusian fashions:

On Venus and some planets, the women wear knee-length, billowing, tunic-like gowns of pastel colours. Some have no sleeves; yet some have long, full sleeves. The waist is sometimes held by a jewelled belt. The women do not wear girdles, bandeaux, or any tight undergarments. The clothes are comfortable, airy, loose and beautiful, enhancing the contours of the female form.

Mr Menger’s very first contact with an alien came one day in 1932 when he was ten years old. This was his meeting with “The Girl on the Rock” and we quote his description of that meeting:

There, sitting on a rock by the brook, was the most exquisite woman my young eyes had ever beheld!

The warm sunlight caught the highlights of her long golden hair as it cascaded around her face and shoulders. The curves of her lovely body were delicately contoured – revealed through the translucent material of clothing which reminded me of the habit of skiers.

I halted in my tracks, and for a moment my breath stopped. I was not frightened, but an overwhelming wonderment froze me to the spot.

She turned her head in my direction.

Even though very young, the feeling I received was unmistakeable.

It was a tremendous surge of warmth, love and physical attraction which emanated from her to me.

Suddenly all my anxiety was gone and I approached her as one would an old friend or loved one.

She told him that she was from Outer Space and that his mission on Earth was to help her. She told him she would contact him again in a few years’ time, and that others, wiser than she, would contact him also. Of course, whilst she said all this, “Her eyes, opalescent discs of gold, turned their smiling affection on me with tranquil luminescence”, and poor old Howard was so choked with emotion that, in the end, “my wails of a happy kind of sadness grew and filled the forest.”

In 1946, sure enough, Mr Menger met the girl on the rock again, only this time aboard an alien space craft. Fourteen years had gone by, yet she hardly looked a day older, which was perhaps not surprising – she was over 500 years old anyway!

Part of their conversation went like this:

“Although you haven’t realised it, you have been under constant observation from the moment we parted years ago.”

I turned red again, and hung my head.

She laughed.

“No, you haven’t always been a good boy. There have been times when …” And she made as if she was going to take a whack at me where people usually sit down. I flinched and recovered my composure. Then I laughed with her.

She realised, she said, how my mind and interests had deviated from spiritual teachings they had given to me.

As it turned out, Mr Menger’s mission on Earth was to assist the aliens to raise the spiritual awareness of mankind, and to this end they told him that there is no such thing as death – the spirit lives on to reincarnate, possibly on other worlds – that aliens worship God as well, and that Jesus was from Outer Space. Armed with knowledge such as this, as well as alien help via telepathy, astral projection and teleportation, Mr Menger was sent forth to hit the American lecture circuit with messages from his Space-Age chums.

Meanwhile, too, he was hired to brief infiltrating space people in the customs, slang and habits of Earth folk, as well as to supply Earth clothes to newly arrived aliens. He mentions that alien women had a great deal of trouble getting used to high heels, and that they couldn’t understand why Earth women wanted to make walking so difficult for themselves. They also positively refused to wear bras.

Part of Mr Menger’s mission was apparently to reassure people that divorce was not against any universal law. Indeed, if a couple stayed together in unhappy discord, rather than seeking an amicable divorce, then that was more against universal law than the act of divorce. (In the 1950s, remember, the subject was far more controversial than it is now.)

In fact, Mr Menger himself got divorced from his first wife and married to his second, a woman called Marla whom he met on the lecture circuit. She was an Earth woman in this incarnation, Mr Menger assures us, but her spirit had once been the sister of the Venusian girl he had met on the rock when he was ten.

Eventually Mr Menger actually claimed to have met Marla in one of his own previous incarnations. He was a Saturnian teacher on a trip to Venus, she was a Venusian “more beautiful than a storybook princess”, and it was love at first sight:

Our love on Venus was intense and overpowering; but it was fated we should not stay together, since I knew I must travel to Earth and complete a mission which had been outlined from my day of birth on that planet.

I remember clearly now the day I left her. Both of us pretended to be very brave about it. Marla made little jokes and tried to laugh musically; but she found it hard to choke back the tears which crept into her laughter.

As I turned to look upon her for the last time, I made a promise to her. Someday, somewhere, I would find her again.

Equally strange was Mr Menger’s explanation of how it came about that he issued a gramophone record.

It was the fall of 1956 and he was out walking in the woods. He was drawn towards an old cabin from which came “the strains of the most inspiring, soul tingling music ever to fall upon my ears.”

Mr Menger entered the cabin and found what looked like a camper playing a queer sort of piano. As it turned out he was a Saturnian Liberace who kindly showed Mr Menger how to play the haunting melody. But this was no ordinary piano lesson, and no ordinary piano. After his little lesson he was assured that, in spite of the fact that never before that night had he been able to play more than the odd note, from now on he would be able to play any tune he wished, even on an ordinary Earth piano. His fingers would be instinctively ‘guided’ to the correct keys.

But back to that haunting melody:

The Saturnian spoke: “You’re wondering why we brought you here for a musical exercise, and it probably seems foolish to you. But it isn’t. You’re going to play this melody on the piano, Howard, and thousands of people of Earth will hear it.”

And so it came about that “Music From Another Planet” was issued on Slate Records in the United States!

Of course, a lot of people tend to dismiss all this as third-rate pulp fiction issued in the guise of fact to give it a bit of zest. But the aliens forewarned Mr Menger that large numbers of people would be sceptical to the point of hostility about his story, so he was well prepared, as, no doubt, was his bank manager.

But scepticism was the least of Mr Menger’s worries. Much more disturbing was the revelation that as well as there being good, helpful and constructive aliens on this planet, there were also some pretty evil ones. One of Mr Menger’s space chums described them in these terms:

“You don’t know, Howard, that there is a very powerful group on this planet, which possesses tremendous knowledge of technology, psychology, and most unfortunate of all, advanced brain therapy. They are using certain key people in the governments of your world. This group is anti-God, and might be termed instruments of your mythical ‘Satan’.”

When Mr Menger asked how he could tell the goodies from the baddies, he got the following reply:

“My friend, this earth is the battlefield of Armageddon, and the battle is for men’s minds and souls. Prayer, good thoughts and caution are your best insulation.”

Mr Menger appears to have been very fortunate, though. He doesn’t seem to have had to deal with any bad aliens, only good ones.

Now and then there are unforeseen complications in being a contactee. Truman Bethurum, an American author, found this out in 1955, with his book Aboard a Flying Saucer. This was subtitled ‘Non-fiction. An account of a true experience’, and described a journey in a space-craft piloted by a beautiful lady from Venus, Captain Rhanes. Sadly, Mr Bethurum’s wife did not appreciate his near obsession with this glamorous pilot. She promptly sued her husband for divorce, cited the lady from Venus – and won!

Another gentleman fortunate enough to have several encounters with aliens was Dino Kraspedon, who, in 1959, published an account of his encounters in a book called My Contact with Flying Saucers.

The book records the subject matter of five conversations with aliens – one aboard a flying saucer, one in Mr Kraspedon’s own home, two in the main square of São Paulo, Brazil, and one in the Roosevelt Station of São Paulo.

The space beings, as it turns out, are an essentially friendly lot who want to help us. They repeatedly warn against man’s misuses of atomic energy, and the possibly dire consequences of it, as well as bemoaning our increasing tendency to wander off the paths of Divine Righteousness. If man could only become more peace-loving and less hostile, the aliens advise, then the Elder Brothers of the Solar System could show him how to turn the Earth into a veritable Garden of Eden.

In his chats with the space folk, Mr Kraspedon is fed some curious ideas. For example, “Man can only truly understand the phenomena of Nature when he understands the nature of God”, which sounds reasonable enough, if a bit hack. But then we learn that, “God is an isotropic line parallel to itself and vibrating on itself at right angles.” Or again, “God is an oscillating charge superimposed on an infinite point.”

For those more interested in science than theology, Mr Kraspedon’s chums have a lot to offer. Gravity does not exist, the inverse square law is a nonsense, and Relativity is living on borrowed time. We learn that the Sun is a cool body whose luminosity is of electrical origin. That it is ‘hot’ is an illusion, and the claims of astronomers that it has a surface temperature of several million degrees Centigrade are sheer nonsense. “Light,” we are told, “is deformed space turning itself back into primordial space.” And since light repels matter, the force which impels the Earth to rotate on its own axis, at the same time as orbiting about the Sun, is neither more nor less than the pressure of sunlight. The tides of the world’s seas and oceans are likewise regulated not by gravity but by the interplay of sunlight pressure and moonlight pressure. Finally, the upper layers of the atmosphere govern the incidence of earthquakes. For this reason, if we disrupt the upper atmosphere with our atom bombs, not only will we let in some pretty fearful cosmic rays, at the same time as spreading radioactive fallout, but we will also open the floodgates to world-wide earthquake devastation. Mr Kraspedon describes the results in fearful detail:

Nursing mothers will weep with sorrow, knowing that their milk, which should nourish the child, carries lethal poisons which will destroy its bones and bring leukaemia. Many, unable to withstands such suffering, will seek death, cursing life and those who launched such despair upon the world.

Then humanity will see whither progress without God has brought them: maniacs in the streets, the maimed everywhere, hospitals overflowing, cemeteries full, larders empty, millions destroyed by war, orphaned children, ravaged cities, contaminated fields, poisoned waters, terrorised multitudes, plague, terror, blasphemy, grief, desolation. On Earth, people in anguish; in heaven the cosmic laws upset.

But there’s worse to come. Mr Kraspedon has it on the authority of his space chums that another sun is about to enter the solar system. One of the missions of the aliens is to warn us of this.

The second sun, which will be a dark star, will enter the solar system from the direction of the constellation of Cancer, and will pair up with our present Sun to form a binary star. The orbits of the planets will be drastically altered, of course, and the Earth will take up an orbit roughly in the vicinity of where the asteroids are now. The Moon will cease to be a satellite of the Earth, and will become a planet in its own right, orbiting the new dual sun. Mars, too, will lose a moon, though this one will not become another planet. Rather, alien calculations show that after its ejection from the Martian system, the itinerant moon will break up in the vicinity of the Earth, and bombard most of Europe, North Africa and Central America with meteorite showers.

According to Mr Kraspedon’s contacts, this will all take place towards the end of the twentieth century, and will be a sign of something suspiciously like the Second Coming:

On this day, many will understand the triumph of the just and he will see why God did not immediately punish the wrongdoers. The Sun which is to come will be called the Sun of Justice. Its appearance in the heavens will be the warning signal of the coming of the One who will shine even more than the Sun itself.

Mr Kraspedon’s space chums are strangely conversant with the Bible of the Earthlings, particularly the Book of Isaiah, and several times they cite chapter and verse. For example, in Isaiah 65.17 is a prophecy of the rearranged solar system with the coming of the second sun. (“For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered nor come into mind.”)

On the subject of alien life in the solar system, Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto are all inhabited. Jupiter and Saturn are not, though some of their satellites are. For instance, the inhabitants of the satellites of Jupiter range in height from 7 foot giants to beings of Lilliputian stature; on one of Saturn’s satellites, the inhabitants are immortal. Finally, the inhabitants of Pluto are such a debauched lot that God has planned it so that when the second sun enters the solar system, Pluto will be expelled into outer Space by way of punishment for its inhabitants’ sins.

There is not much else to say, really, except that if you want to know why Latin should be dropped from the school curriculum in favour of the study of photosynthesis, then you’d better read Mr Kraspedon’s book.

It seems that some extraterrestrials prefer to make contact with Earthlings by telepathic means rather than by direct physical face-to-face contact aboard a flying saucer. It is at this point that UFOlogy begins to look more than a little like spiritualism.

It must be said at the outset that the messages purporting to come from these intelligences do not always have the air of having come from members of civilisations advanced enough to cross the dizzy depths of space. Indeed, in some cases, their content is so poor that they wouldn’t even pass as third-rate science fiction let alone science fact. We make no apology for the length of the following masterpiece of banality, taken from Hildegard Bender’s book Knights of the Solar Cross (1963), a book of messages from Outer Space obtained through a medium who “sat” for the circle of interested persons mentioned in the text. It runs exactly as a spiritualist séance, except that the medium tuned into space folk rather than spirits:

I would like very much tonight to speak for a few moments about the mechanics of contact. Now first of all before we start, I would very much like, as you are on the condition of what you term Christmas, to wish you all the joy of what it means. First of all I like you to understand the principle that, that child whom you call Jesus in your Christian calendar – has it ever occurred in your mind the perimeter from which He came? … He came from a scheme of great cosmos conception long before men was [sic] made to appear upon your earth plane, and today you are finding in your world the repercussion of atomic warfare emanating from the bowels of the earth which you know as a scientific standpoint of hot lava, a perimeter around the ethers of eternal truth; its life there is bringing forth the onion system of protection in the cosmic vibrations of oxygen and the energy of nitrogen, which in its turn thickens in its conception of rock and iron ore until eventually it appears as the foundation garment of what is known to be your soil. …

Now tonight I want to say that my name is Dr Echo, and I come from a very ancient planetary habitation. I am sliding down into the consciousness of this group through the very heart centre of him who is deemed your mediat, or your medium. …

In the meantime we want to suggest to you what the great Ashtar did in your last meeting and it was this: in the pit of your stomach muscle, that is in the etheric level of what you term the abdomen, is the umbilical cord that at birth, as you probably realise, is cut by the medical doctor. In the other side of this cord, that is in the inner portion of your abdomen, there is etheric cord to which we can plant at any time a piece of so-called metal of the dimension of the size of a pea. That contact we are able, through the etheric vibration of meditation and quietness and peace, to give you a reflection from the mirror of light which comes from the Milky Way. In the Milky Way as you look at from your balcony, you will find that it seems to be without a beginning or without an end. That Milky Way is what is termed a spiritual ladder in much the same way that in the vision of Jacob he was able to see the angels or they who belong to other systems.

Dr Echo’s message goes on to tell how the South Africans are in some way a chosen people (needless to say, this space age séance is taking place in South Africa); how there will be great upheavals in England as well as “in the place of the Frenchmen, the place of France”, and “in the Germanic habitation of Germany”. The circle, it appears, is receiving “vital statistical contacts from Venus”, curiously interspersed with the details of a mustard-bath cure for influenza!

Another message from an entity named Ariel included the useful piece of information that the Earth was fifteen degrees out of orbit, but that through “the salvation of the Moon” and an unusually early Easter, nothing serious would come of it. Ariel concluded his message thus:

I shall come again, and I am glad you saw my ship. Try and see me waving my antenna at midnight. Nothing is left to chance: a pattern is formed, and when you pour water from a glass, it must be drunk and not wasted. This is what God is doing; He is drinking well of the waters of life, but you on terra firma are disturbing everything that God has made. Goodnight!

In a communication from a certain Hotep of Venus, the question was asked as to whether or not there were animals on Venus. Hotep said there were, “especially those who left your earth plane through disaster, accident or cruel slaughter.” Apparently they get there under the auspices of St. Francis of Assisi. In this same communication we read that all Venusians are vegetarians, and that a band of beings from Pluto are hollowing out Table Mountain. It also transpires that certain types of persons who incarnate on Earth have had ‘training’ for their earth-roles on other planets. These include teachers, preachers, musicians and eccentrics. Hotep, who, incidentally, was once incarnated on Earth (in the Stone Age “where the great dinosaurs roamed”), also proffers the information that all earth insects originated on Mars, and got here by being “shot down in one of the cosmic plastic conditions of upheavals.” We’re not too sure what these upheavals are, but they sound pretty spectacular all the same. Finally, we are assured that the sun is a cold body, an assertion that no longer holds any surprises for us.

It only remains for us to say that anyone who is concerned about the whereabouts of Donald Campbell’s body should read Hildegard Bender’s book, for the solution to the mystery is contained therein. At least, we think it is. Unfortunately, both of us were more baffled by the ‘explanation’ than by the actual disappearance of the body, but there it is.

By contrast, George Hunt Williamson’s book The Saucers Speak (1954) is a masterpiece. It is a record made between August 1952 and February 1953 of communications “with several planets in our own solar system and with space-craft in our atmosphere from other solar systems.”

The story begins with an experiment in automatic writing, performed after a discussion of flying saucers. According to Mr Williamson, “the people of other worlds were watching and waiting for a sign of receptivity on the part of their brothers on Earth, standing by and ready with their superior equipment to contact any and all who sought an answer to their presence in the skies of the Earth.”

We might ask why, if these beings were so eager to communicate with us, they didn’t arrange mass public landings rather than transmitting rambling and banal messages through Ouija boards or spirit mediums. The answer to this was actually given by the Venusian who contacted the infamous George Adamski in the Californian desert back in 1952. It has been a stock answer of saucery ever since: public landings are not attempted because they would probably lead to panic amongst the earthlings, and subsequent harm to the Flying Saucer occupants. So, no public landings.

But returning to Mr Williamson’s automatic writing experiment, the space people rapidly decided that this was rather a crude method of communication, and opted to make contact instead through a sort of generalised Ouija board. This consisted of all the letters of the alphabet, the numbers 1 to 10, a “Yes” and a “No”, and finally, a plus sign on the right and a minus sign on the left.

A message received by this means on 2nd August 1952 began thus:

“Masar to Saras” (After much questioning we learned that Masar was the planet Mars and Saras was our planet Earth. It is interesting to note that Saras or Saros means ‘repetition’ in the ancient Chaldean language.) ‘By your year of 1956 there must be a new Saras. Bell Flight 9 (Crystal bells are the saucers) should land on Saras in 1956. Organise yourselves. There must be peace of mind. You are all for a purpose. You have a destiny. Don’t fight Universal Truth!

You are a dead civilisation. We want your co-operation. Time is limited. I am Nah-9 of Solar X Group. I am the leader of a contact group.

As was quite normal in the 1950s, Mr Williamson’s space chums issued repeated warnings about earthlings meddling with H-bombs, and expressed a certain amount of disgust that some earthlings entertained serious doubts as to the very existence of UFOs. In the course of time, Mr Williamson logged little messages from beings with fascinating names like Jupiter-9999, Anhar 22, Wolf 359 and Andromeda-26470. This last one sounds to us like some Andromedan phone number, but we’ll do our best to be serious. Then came Kadar Lacau, head of Interplanetary Council-Circle, who was “elected from the Universe”, and who spelt out through Mr Williamson’s modified Ouija board:

Why don’t you all go eat now? We were wondering when you were going to wake up to the fact that you are hungry. We have stomachs too, and we are empty. Meet you here at 8.20 tonight. Signing off.

Further messages obtained by this means revealed the space beings’ intentions to attempt contact by radio, and they suggested that Mr Williamson and friends contact a Mr R towards this end. This mysterious Mr R, incidentally, was a radio ham that lived in Mr Williamson’s neighbourhood. The reason for this change in the method of communication is not at all clear, but Mr Williamson suggested that “they did not want to give too much information over the ‘board’.” Also, radio code is a more conclusive type of evidence than either automatic writing or a Ouija board communication. Most of the radio messages came through in International Morse Code, but there was one instance of a message coming through voice-wise. This was announced well in advance, through the Ouija board, by an entity named Zo, who was the head of a Martian contact group, though he came originally from Neptune.

Mr Williamson’s book is a curious carnival of extraterrestrial messages from beings with exotic names: Suttku, judge of the Saturn Council; Wan 4 of the Safanian Solar System; Artok of Pluto and a host of others. From their messages Mr Williamson learnt of the evil Orionians and their intentions, all of which we looked at earlier in the present chapter. But most comforting of all is the knowledge that the saucers are not intent on invasion, but simply act “as a father warns a child of danger.”

We come now to the subject of unorthodox space travel.

In the eighteenth century the Swedish scientist, philosopher and mystic Emanuel Swedenborg published two works entitled Earths in our Solar System which are called Planets and Earths in the Starry Heaven, their Inhabitants, and the Spirits and Angels there.

Both works were allegedly based on personal observation. Basically Swedenborg used to put himself into a trance and project his spirit to other planets, a method which proved to be considerably cheaper than the American space programme. In his projected state he was able to converse with the spirits and angels of these other worlds, and his books were compiled from the results.

The inhabitants of Mars, for example, are dwarfish, and their voices come from the abdomen rather than the lungs. The inhabitants of Mercury, by contrast, are averse to all verbal communication, abdominal or otherwise, and Swedenborg had to converse with them by telepathy! Jupitereans, meanwhile, though not against verbal communication, prefer instead to use ‘face language’. That is, they communicate entirely by facial expression.

Swedenborg’s books, despite their promising titles, are actually rather dull affairs for the average reader. Most of them consist of interminable and drab analyses of the spiritual state, moral welfare and religious beliefs of extraterrestrial spirits. The only detail from all these that held our attention, aside from the description of a sort of spiritual customs post at the boundary of the solar system, was Swedenborg’s assertion that some of the inhabitants of Saturn worship the ring system as a god, thus adding a whole new dimension to the expression “Lord of the Rings”!

But despite their dullness, Swedenborg’s books do give the patient reader food for thought in a few places. Here, for example, is a description of how the inhabitants of Jupiter walk:

With respect to their gait, they do not walk erect like the inhabitants of this and of many other earths, nor do they creep like animals, but as they advance they assist themselves with their hands, and alternately half raise themselves on their feet, and at every third step they face about sideways and behind them, and at the same time also bend the body a little, which is done quickly; for among them it is considered unbecoming to be looked at by others except in the face.

After Swedenborg, space travelling seems rather to have fallen out of fashion for a while. Then, in the 1890s, things picked up again when a Swiss psychologist called Thédore Flournoy began a detailed study of the medium Hélène Smith.

Hélène was no ordinary medium, for in addition to holding orthodox séances and putting folk in touch with the spirits of their deceased relatives, she had a series of remarkable visions of life on the planet Mars.

Actually, the Martian Cycle, as Flournoy called it, was more complex than we have just indicated. Hélène received information about Mars through a number of channels, the most spectacular of which were direct visions. But she also received information by automatic writing, verbal automatism and dictation from hallucinatory voices. That is, when she wasn’t actually seeing what was going on on Mars, the spirits were, one way or another, telling her what was going on. Many of these second-hand descriptions came from Hélène’s own spirit-guide and protector, Leopold, and by the end of the Martian Cycle, Leopold must have been a very well seasoned interplanetary traveller indeed!

The inhabitants of Mars, it seems, were visually indistinguishable from Earth-people, and as regards their dress, they seem to have anticipated unisex fashions here on Earth by many decades. Their equivalent for the motor car was a carriage “without horses or wheels”, and Hélène noticed that they emitted sparks as they glided back and forth. For some reason it was all the rage for Martians to erect fountains on the roofs of their houses, but, all in all, life on Mars was not too dissimilar to its terrestrial counterpart. Hélène went on to describe their customs, their flora, their fauna, and, most extraordinary of all, their language. Her spirit-guide, Leopold, seems to have taught her the rudiments of the Martian language, and pretty soon her automatic writing started to come through in pure Martian!

Thédore Flournoy’s book From India to the Planet Mars was originally published in French in 1900, but was republished in English in 1963. It is an extraordinary analysis of just where all the spiritualist outpourings of Hélène Smith really came from.

Leopold, it seems, was a fictitious character modelled on a man who, in Hélène’s childhood, had saved her from being mauled by a savage dog.

As for the Martian Cycle, that had several threads. Firstly, Hélène had several times been involved in conversations about the possibility of life on Mars. Shortly before the Martian Cycle began, the ‘canals’ of Mars had been ‘discovered’, and life on Mars was a good talking point. Secondly, a friend of Hélène’s, a Mr Lemaître, had hinted to her that it would be interesting to see what went on on other planets. Thirdly, a Mrs Mirbel, a friend of Mr Lemaître’s, had lost her son shortly before, and had attended one of Hélène’s séances in order to contact him.

All of these, Flournoy showed, contributed to the Martian Cycle, and Mrs Mirbel’s son had become a reincarnated Martian, passing messages to his mother across the depths of space, these being interspersed with descriptions of his Martian lifestyle! (Hélène was a firm believer in reincarnation. She believed herself to be the reincarnation of Marie Antoinette, for example.)

As for the Martian language that Leopold had taught her, Flournoy showed that it was a crudely codified form of French, despite the distinctly alien-looking forms of the Martian alphabet. Though it was remarkable that she had concocted this language entirely in her subconscious, it was, nevertheless, just a spurious invention.

All in all, Flournoy was not very impressed with Hélène’s experiences. By all accounts, she wasn’t very impressed with his scepticism either, and in the end they rather fell out. Later in life, Hélène came to believe that she was the reincarnation of the biblical Mary, sister of Martha, and instead of Martian landscapes she took to painting scenes of the New Testament. She died in 1930.

Before the flight of Sputnik 1, in October 1957, there were some interesting ideas about space-travel which were fascinating in themselves, but would probably not appeal to NASA. One of these was the edible space-ship, proposed by Mr Theodore B. Dufur, of the United States, in 1955. To fly to the moon, he said, you merely constructed a dirigible out of something such as frozen oleo margarine, so that on landing you could put a lid over a weak lunar volcano, to keep yourself warm, and simply nibble away at your space-craft until the next expedition arrived. And in Zambia, rather later, Mr Edward Mukaka Nkoloso, Director-General of the Zambian Academy of Space Research, prepared to organise an expedition of four astronauts and a seventeen-year-old girl. However, he had his problems. We quote: “I’ve had trouble with my space-men and space-woman. They won’t concentrate on space-flight; there’s too much love-making when they should be studying the Moon. Matha Mwamba, who has been chosen to be the first coloured woman on Mars, has also to feed her ten cats, who will be her companions on the long space flight. … I’m getting them acclimatised to space-travel by placing them in my space-capsule every day. It’s a 40 gallon oil drum in which they sit, and I then roll them down a hill. This gives them the feeling of rushing through space. I also make them swing from the end of a long rope. When they reach the highest point, I cut the rope – this produces the feeling of free-fall.”

Alas, Mr Nkoloso – who was by all accounts perfectly sincere – failed to obtain his requested $700,000,000 from NASA, and after 1971 nothing more seems to have been heard of him, so that, as we now know, Zambia was not the first nation to enter space; the Academy was pipped at the post by both Russia and America. However, no doubt Zambia will catch up in due course.