My treat for completing two books last year was to buy myself Jacques Vallee's collected journals: Forbidden Science vol 1 and vol 2. And I finished them just as my first book was coming out last month.
It was mildly amusing that the last entries in his journal (it ends in 1979) were about the grumblings associated with his then-recently-published Messengers of Deception. Vallee's previous books had led to minor grumblings in the nuts and bolts crowd -although apparently all the phenomenology people at the CIA read them- but Messengers managed to ruffle even some friendly feathers.
Everyone was already on board with the first two premises as described in his previous books:
- The overwhelming majority of UFO cases are atmospheric phenomena (which doesn't discount their wydrness, as we all know) and Cold War cover stories for covert military nonsense.
- Those instances that aren't described by the first point form a phenomenological continuum with religious and spiritual encounters stretching back through history, and are a poor match for the 'alien scientist visitation' hypothesis.
But Messengers had a third truthbomb:
- These phenomena are deceptive and appear to have religious belief systems as their principal target. We've been over this before.
There was some grumbling because even staunch allies and mentors like Allen Hynek expressed a positive opinion of these beings as 'teachers' or whatever. Wizards know better. There's a reason the grimoires are mostly banishings, threats, circles and so on. There's a reason the witch lived on the edge of town.
What I didn't know prior to reading the journals was how friendly Vallee was with Anton LaVey in the 70s. Here's an excerpt from Thursday, March 3rd, 1977.
Anton LaVey is interesting when he discusses the nature of secrecy. He points out that people are most thrilled by the impression of "discovery". Therefore, if you want the masses to accept your claims, you should never try to reveal anything but you should arrange for them to "discover" it.
The best process to achieve this is what he calls the Easter Egg Formula.
- The magician gets up before everybody else, scattering brightly coloured eggs for others to find.
- He hides them in such a way that they can be discovered with relatively little work.
- The secret of the existence of the eggs is leaked out.
- The crowd rushes out and finds them, delighted with this revelation.
- Congratulations follow.
- Real secrets are safe and the magician's prestige is enhanced.
Is this how the belief in UFOs works? Is the undercurrent built on the Easter Egg Formula?
The saucers are indeed like Easter Eggs. Someone got up early and scattered them around for us to discover. Then he leaked out the notion that they were extraterrestrial. I'm not interested in discussing the eggs, nor do I care about the scientists who "explain" them away. Let's find out who makes them, and why. Actually, I think I know "why". The target is human mythology, the most powerful force on Earth. And there is no question that the phenomenon also functions on the material, physical level.
What nobody tells you about publishing a book -or at least what Jacques never told me- was how little you care if people misinterpret you. Star.Ships hasn't been misinterpreted much... but some of the reviews and social mentions I have read indicate that it is clear some parts of the book are more interesting to the reader than others. And that lack of caring is a good thing. A really good thing. It's ideas out in the world, warping. Much as, like anyone, I love being understood... it turns out I also love being 'correctly' misunderstood. It's a bit wonderful. Like having children but objectively better.
But then there are those that Get. It. Get it with the sweet sound of a three point swish. VI gets it. How do I know? Because Star.Ships could otherwise have been titled We Are the Witchcraft... now with extra geological factoids to amuse or bore your friends.
Ochre-red handprints, human and otherwise, pressed on the stone roof, the curvature of the Earth propelling us Down and Into Abyssal Starry Gulfs amongst the immortal, feral dead – all unbound, justified and ancient. Uttering barbarous words that are no words in any mortal tongue because they’re the language of the shining angels, the black and hungry birds. Lucifer – Light-bringer. Morning Star The name for Venus. High in the heavens and within her Sibylic Mound within the Earth.
Not all that surprising. Craig and I are aligned on the Kings, the Dead and whisky. But we're also aligned on the significance of story... something some of you who were grumbling about that recent Alan Moore interview have entirely missed.
"In the forthcoming Moon & Serpent Bumper Book of Magic we argue that consciousness, preceded by language, preceded by representation (and thus art) were all phenomena arising at around the same momentous juncture of human development and that all of these would be perceived as magic, an umbrella term encompassing the radical new concepts born of our discovery of our new, inner world.
This allows us to offer a definition of magic as a ‘purposeful engagement with the phenomena and possibilities of consciousness’. We then go on to argue that originally, all of human thought and culture was subsumed within the magic worldview, with the advent of urban society and the rise of specialised professionals gradually stripping magic of its social functions.
To finally answer your question, one of the many things that magic offers is a plausible and, I believe, rational worldview in which science, psychology and all the other fields mentioned above are joined up and connected meaningfully into the all-embracing, one-stop science of existence they first emerged from.
[I]t is my position that art, language, consciousness and magic are all aspects of the same phenomenon. With art and magic seen as almost wholly interchangeable, the realm of the imagination becomes crucial to both practices."
I'm building up to a point, but to get to it, we need to quote the ever-amazing Dr Jeff Kripal in the mandatory The Super Natural, written with Whitley Strieber:
Are all of these things really the same thing? No. Are they somehow nevertheless related? Sometimes. So how do we determine which is which, what belongs where, what to compare with what in order to get where? What should be on our table, for whose interests, and toward what goal or purpose?
To take the most obvious example, it is often assumed that the “things seen in the sky” have some relationship to the occult erotic encounters in bed with various discarnate beings. But this, in fact, is not at all clear. These two sets of events can be related within a particular narrative or mythical framework, but this does not require any universal causal relationship between the two, as if the former were somehow always causing the latter. Maybe in some cases they are related. Maybe in others they are not. But certainly not all things seen in the sky are related to all things seen and experienced in the abduction literature.
The UFO phenomenon is confusing, then, first and foremost because we are using a single very loose comparative category to collect, classify, and interpret what are probably completely different things. That some of the things in the wastebasket (say, the military disinformation campaigns) appear to be actively mimicking and dissimulating some of the other things in the wastebasket (say, the genuine unexplained aerial phenomena) hardly helps the matter. It only shakes up the wastebasket and makes it messier and more confused. There is a way forward, though, and we will take it here. That way forward consists of
(a) acknowledging the obvious presence of various military-, intelligence-, and security-state measures at work in the cold war history of the UFO phenomenon (the acronym does, after all, come from the American military), but
(b) setting these aside in order to move beyond and past them to the much older and deeper roots of the encounters in the global history of mystical and esoteric literature.
From later in the book:
I think religious expressions, including religious beliefs, are often pointing toward something very real, perhaps even ultimately real, if always in coded ways. But there is more. I also think that there is something potentially occult or magical about belief. Belief can function as a naive literalism or serious obstacle to serious thought, to be sure. But belief can also conjure. Belief can make real. Belief might even act as a kind of psychic portal through which other beings can enter our world, as Whitley has speculated in some of his most visionary moments. It all comes down to how one believes, not whether one believes. It all comes down to whether one possesses an adequate understanding of the religious imagination and the symbol.
Let's pull all these points together then.
- Mythology, which is 'Big Storytelling', is a vector for extradimensional manipulation.
- Storytelling, art and magic are probably all parts of the same First Thing humans ever did. Hence Chris's recent observations about magic and art versus occultism. (If occultism is dying just as Santa Muerte expands her influence to the entire planet then it is doing. It. Wrong. But that would be 'magic', not occultism, innit? Perhaps a people should know when they are conquered?)
- Belief (in certain stories) can act as 'psychic portals' through which the extradimensional -which regularly presents a physical component- can achieve egress into our world.
Back to reading Jacques's diary like a creep, then. February 5th, 1978:
Hal [Putoff] told me of an observation he made at SRI, that his [remote viewing] subjects have an easier time finding a hidden thing than an open target, and an emotionally loaded object rather than an inert one. Is it for that reason that religious and occult rites use color, sound vibrations, secrecy and flickering flames? Are these designed to operate subtly on another physical plane? Allen never understood this, but he came very close when he worked with Manly Hall.
So... getting their attention, much? Flip through the Egypt chapter in Star.Ships and you tell me. When competent people talk about how magic relates to 'psychology' or 'the imagination', this is the direction they are heading in. But they may as well be speaking Swahili to the more aspie end of the sorcerous spectrum with its little boxes and spheres and categories and various 777s. Easter Eggs fit in categories... Easter Bunnies do not.
Enough ragging on magic -which I love- and onto Ufology -which I do not.
Because there is also this.
In a post-podcast chat with the lovely Alex Tsakiris, I expressed some mild alarm at a few of his throwaway comments about the last couple of chapters of Star.Ships, which appeared to have given him the impression that I consider these phenomena to be 'just' consciousness stuff. I pointed out that the book is filled with examples of physicality, including radiation effects, levitation and so on.
He agreed and then we got onto bitching about Ufology -which was the actual target of his comments. Because the new 'it bag' in Ufology is to say 'it's all consciousness stuff' and piss from a great height on those 'nuts and bolts types'. (Sidebar: I've never met a nuts and bolts type. Seriously. They must be like those 'fluffy bunny Wiccans' I keep hearing about and never meet.) The trouble with the new 'it bag' position is that most Ufologists are really just hiding in the bag like fruity, terrified poodles... presumably in no small part because they are ashamed at having been previously suckered in by some CIA/Cold War nonsense designed to conceal the testing of new aircraft or whatever.
Thing of it is... when I say consciousness, that word doesn't mean what they think it means. Ufologists can bleat the word 'consciousness' all they want on some of the most boring podcasts you'd ever wish to hear, they're still stuck having to explain
- Abductions lasting days/weeks/months.
- Implants such as the one Paul Laffoley received.
- Actual rape as was the case with Whitley Strieber.
- Veridical descriptions of the future or future technology... and so on.
What this all suggests is that they can't hide behind 'it's a consciousness phenomenon' for very long before the physical components of all this stuff make them squirm out of their seats. And -let me be clear- just as I said to Greg in an upcoming THC... a successful act of practical enchantment is a physical component of consciousness phenomena. What else could it be?
'Right thinking' Ufologists, just like 'right thinking' consciousness researchers end up in a magical worldview or they are lying to themselves. That statement should come as no surprise to regular readers. We are here because we think magic best describes reality. Otherwise... well, there's plenty of porn you could be watching.
I talk about this a bit with my wonderful Antipodean compatriot, Mikey, below. (The magic bit, not the porn bit.)
What Star.Ships doesn't cover -much to the relief of some and disappointment to others- is where the 'proper aliens' belong. But actually 'proper aliens', like ourselves, are neither here nor there.
- Star.Ships describes what I currently consider to be the conditions of the entire universe, and its neighbouring universe(s). It should apply everywhere and everywhen in the known and unknown reaches of observable reality.
- As to how this squishy little rock in the ass-end of nowhere ended up with a carbon-based biosphere? Firstly, that's an irrelevance from a philosophical perspective, at least from
a space shamanican animist one. Secondly, we could potentially bring Proper Aliens in here. Don't forget that the most widely accepted materialist science explanation for how life arose on earth is Directed Panspermia. That is literally the intentional shooting off of a slimy rock (containing DNA, my guess is a virus) in our direction; a hole-in-one from the centre of the galaxy. And I'm still looking -and I mean really actively looking- for a coherent response to Dr McCarthy's PIMP observations because, without it, we have 'probably aliens' at the threeish billion year mark -the slimy rock- and 'please don't say aliens but what else is there?' at the twoish million year mark -which is our pig and chimp morphology combo meal.
The trouble with the Ancient Aliens crowd is that they have points one and two precisely reversed. They think our mythologies -our descriptions of the entire universe- are the result of physical alien intervention and our cargo cult response to them. And yet our actual origins are somehow confidently explained by the mythology of materialist science. Philosophy and metaphysics don't come into it at all, which is a pathetic oversight on their part.
The reality is... we shouldn't really care much how we came to be... it means nothing in the eyes of the 'circle of stars whereof our father is but the younger brother' - and neither does our destruction, frankly. (Paging Lovecraft!) Organisms develop in all kinds of ways in myriad different biospheres. It is only anthropocentrism that deludes us into thinking our physical form has any wider philosophical implications. (Our consciousness or 'true essence' is another matter... but magicians have been pulling down and housing 'true essences' into statues, thigh bones, coconuts, laptops, wax seals, alcoholic drinks, foetuses, tortillas and whatever else for millennia.)
Anyway... Long story short. It's terribly pleasing to have my lack of understanding understood. I'm glad you're all enjoying the book.
May it be a Cape Canaveral for further exploration.