Thursday, June 22, 2017

Research projects and paradigms

In an email from Dr. Tim Rudbøg, Associate Professor, Department of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, Copenhagen University, I was informed of his recently founded Copenhagen Center for the Study of Theosophy and Esotericism (CCSTE). A commendable effort that I hope will inspire scholars to in-depth research into the much neglected history of the Theosophical and Esoteric movements in Sweden. Dr. Rudbøg is one of the foremost international experts on Western Esotericism and author of several books relating to esotericism. He is also a specialist in rare occult books and proprietor of H.E.R.M.E.S.`Antiquarian.



When studying and documenting the influence of Theosophy and esoteric ideas on the development of the UFO movement I became aware of the lack of research in the history of Theosophy and its offshoots in Sweden. The new research center founded by Dr. Rudbøg has a vast uncharted territory to discover, especially in Sweden. From my vantage point these research projects would be of great interest:

1. A detailed history of the founding of the Theosophical Society in Sweden. Cultural influences, personalities involved, official debate.
2. A biographical study of Countess Constance Wachmeister (1838-1910). She was a close friend and important co-worker of Helena Blavatsky.
3. Theosophy and the Swedish King Oscar II (1829-1907). He was strongly influenced by Theosophical ideas and invited Henry Steel Olcott and Annie Besant for audiences at the Royal Palace.
4. The cultural influence of Theosophy in Sweden 1891-1930. During these years Theosophy had a very extensive cultural impact. Theosophical ideas influenced famous authors like August Strindberg, Gustaf Fröding and Selma Lagerlöf. Well known members very psychologists Sidney Alrutz, Bror Gadelius and painter and Gustaf Fjæstad, member of the Rackstad colony of artists in Värmland.
5. Krishnamurti and the crisis of Swedish Theosophy1929-1930. In 1925 there were 45 local Theosophical lodges in Sweden. Many of these lodges folded or ceased activities during the period 1929-1930. How did members and the general public react when Krishnamurti disavowed his role as World Teacher?
6. Esotericism and the founding of the UFO movement in Sweden. Many of the first generation ufologists in Sweden were active Theosophists or members of various occult societies. The first Swedish UFO organizations of 1957-1958 were actually founded by members of the Theosophical Society Adyar. In what way and how much did ideas from the Esoteric Tradition influence the Swedish UFO movement?
7. Henry T. Laurency and the Esoteric Tradition. The writings of Swedish esotericist Henry T. Laurency, pen name for Henrik von Zeipel (1882-1971) are to a large extent unknown even among scholars of Western Esotericism. In what way have his books contributed to our understanding of esotericism as a worldview?



There is an interesting and rather sensitive dilemma associated with this area of research. A problem addressed by Dr. Jean-Michel Abrassart in his essay Paranormal Phenomena: Should Psychology Really Go Beyond the Ontological Debate? Should academic scholars state their own beliefs on the topic they are studying? That is, being honest in regard to religious, esoteric affiliations or adherence to some specific paradigm or worldview? Being open minded in this respect can be detrimental to the academic career and result in a loss of intellectual integrity in the academic community.
In spite of this problem Dr. Abrassart advocates the view that an open position statement from scholars is of great importance: ”I think that transparency (stating one´s own beliefs about the subject one is studying) is preferable to staying safely outside the ontological debate… If we can imagine that a committed Christian can legitimately study personal prayer, why not a medium studying mediumship?”

I agree with Dr. Abrassart in his views but the idea is fine in theory but the practice may not be so easy. As blog readers have noted I have personally clearly and openly stated my position or worldview as esotericist in books, articles and blog, an adherence to the Esoteric Tradition as presented by Helena Blavatsky, Alice Bailey and Henry T. Laurency. This is no problem to me as I have no affiliation with any University or official research institution and as retired librarian I can be as heretical and iconoclastic as I please. It is only my esteemed colleagues in UFO research that may raise a few eyebrows at my writings and wonder if I have committed intellectual harakiri.



For the academic scholar interested in esotericism, UFO or paranormal phenomena research becomes a bit more complicated as in academe you are restricted by the predominant materialist, reductionist worldview and certain rules regarding research. And with topics like esotericism, UFOs and paranormal phenomena you are standing at the gates of Forbidden Science. This is why I have always advocated privately funded research institutions. Let me once again state my four reasons for private UFO research:

UFO research is scientifically controversial
The study of UFO phenomena is a complicated multi-disciplinary task with no natural connection to any academic discipline. There are of course academic research on UFOs performed by historians, folklorists, psychologists and historians of religion a.o.. But it is important to understand that these scientists do not address the ontological issue, the basic question of the reality of the phenomena. This requires a different approach and 
methodology which is not regarded as scientific within these disciplines. Mainstream academic science is intrincically materialist and reductionist and is therefore automatically challenged when confronted with phenomena indicating a multiverse of forces and entities
Field investigation with the object of determining the reality of UFO phenomena has no natural academic connection. Any academic scholar trying to address to ontological (reality) issue will immediately be questioned by collegues and university administration and face public media ridicule as the strange scholar who believes in little green men. He or she will also be heavily criticized by the new inquisition (not the Catholic Church this time) but by the representatives of the Skeptic community, condemning the heretic for promoting pseudoscience and irrationalism. Few scientists are willing to put their academic career at stake when faced with such obstacles. An Invisible College of critical but open minded researchers affords the best option and protection in such a cultural situation. The common media strategy of asking an astronomer or other mainstream academic scholars to comment on the the reality of UFO phenomena is like asking an ornithologist for a view of Byzantine architecture.



UFO research is militarily controversial
The basic mission of the military and intelligence community is to protect the nation from inner and outer enemies. By necessity much of military research and intelligence operations must remain secret. UFO research sometimes involves cases where the field investigator probably documents activity associated with secret military projects, remotely piloted vehicles (RPV), drones or other forms of covert activity. The possibility of black projects like military abductions, MILABS,  is a case in point. Research into these more or less secret areas will of course be very controversial and only a privately financed institution could hope to achieve results in these areas. Basic research into the reality of UFO phenomena is not a part of military mission.

UFO research is politically controversial
Politicians today are very much at the mercy of various media and often quite defenseless if they happen to make a mistake or say something inappropriate or wrong. Any politician advocating serious UFO research would immediately receive negative publicity in the press and become an embarrassement to political colleagues. Demands for resignation would follow. "We don´t want a UFO nut in our political party". As very few people are aware of the depth and extent of the UFO enigma and the serious issues involved there is no possibility in official funding of UFO research nor of help from politicians.

UFO research is religiously controversial
Perhaps this aspect is not so much noticed in our secular Swedish society but for many religious fundamentalists UFO is taboo. This becomes very obvious when studying all the books in the AFU library written by representatives of various religious groups. UFOs are simply regarded as demons or djinns in the islamic world. That UFO research is something you should stay away from was made clear to me by my former physiotherapist. He was active in Seventh-Day Adventist Church and during one therapy session he asked about my interests. I frankly told him about my passion for UFO research. His stern comment was: You know they are demons! This is also the view advocated by Anthroposophists as evidenced by the late Gordon Creighton, former editor of Flying Saucer Review, who was deeply influenced by Anthroposophy.

This criticism should not be seen as depreciating academic research in these controversial areas, but only to show the problems and restrictions involved. As mentioned earlier I really commend the founding of Copenhagen Center for the Study of Theosophy and Esotericism, looking forward to many interesting monographs and dissertations.



Monday, June 12, 2017

The vanishing missiles

Late afternoon on July 27, 1999 several witnesses observed a missile or rocket shaped object  crash into lake Backsjön, north of the town Arvika in the province of Värmland, Sweden. The object was about three meters in length with small wings at the sides. It hit the lake with a splash resulting in a large water cascade. One of the witnesses called the local rescue service and eventually a unit from the Swedish military began an intensive search for the missile.


During the first days of investigation the military gave various cover stories to the press of what had happened. They interviewed seven witnesses who were all regarded as very credible. After some preliminary dives in August a ten days search was initiated in September with a small submarine equipped with ultrasound and cameras. In spite of a very detailed search in the lake, nothing was found and this was very confusing to the military. ”We considered this report as credible. The search resulted in nothing and we really don´t know what we are looking for”, commented colonel Yngve Johansson.  

The Backsjön case makes it quite obvious why these type of unknown craft are called Ghost Rockets. Since 1946 there have been hundreds of well documented Ghost Rocket reports in Sweden. Always with the same scenario, apparently physical objects crashing into lakes and the military finding nothing in spite of intense search. Swedish ufologist Clas Svahn have investigated the Ghost Rocket phenomenon for many years and regard these reports as one of the most intriguing type of UFO observations in our country.

In 2015 filmmakers Michael Cavanagh and Kerstin Übelacker released the UFO documentary Ghost Rockets. A film about the national organization UFO-Sweden and the expedition to find a Ghost Rocket that landed and sank in lake Nammajaure, in the north of Sweden 1980. After two expeditions nothing has been found so far but there are indications that some object may be hidden deep in the mud in this small lake. Hopefully a third expedition may give some final results.


To the skeptic the lack of physical evidence for the Ghost Rocket reports prove that these reports are nothing but a myth based on misidentification of ordinary objects. To mainstream scientific ufologists the Ghost Rockets are an intriguing enigma indicating unknown air vehicles. But to the open minded researcher the lack of physical evidence opens up a third option usually not considered by the two former groups.

Before the Robertson panel of 1953 and the general silence policy on the subject from 1954 American contactee George Van Tassel were sometimes visited by military men from the Air Force who had a personal interest in or had become involved in UFO incidents themselves. He related several such incidents and talks in his magazine Proceedings.

George Van Tassel at Giant Rock

In 1953 an Air Force Major, stationed at George Air Force Base, at Adelanto, California, spent many weekends with the Van Tassel family at Giant Rock Airport. The major was officially in charge of UFO investigations in Southern California. An interesting case he had been involved in told of jet pilot who radioed George Air Force Base tower that a round unidentified object had crashed into the ground near San Jacinto Mountain. The Tower phoned the Major and hurriedly he and other Air Force personal climbed into a helicopter and headed for Mt. San Jacinto. They spotted the jet circling the area and landed the helicopter in a clearing about 200 feet from the unknown object.

”The Major said they walked slowly toward it and when they were about 25 feet from it they stopped in awe because the couldn´t figure out what was happening. The Major said the object was apparently remote controlled, and was in the process of some automatically activated ”self destruct” proceedure. He said the object had a pulsing bright light in tghe middle of an ovoid mass, of what looked like black tar about two feet thick and about 12 feet in diameter. The entire black mass was quivering like jelly, shaking and getting smaller by the minute.” (Proceedings, vol. 10, no. 6, Oct-Dec 1974, pp. 11-12).


In a short time the black blob dimished until there was nothing left and the pulsing light just vanished. The group took samples of the ground where the object had been and also samples of the earth a hundred feet away. George Van Tassel never heard what the results were as the Major then stopped visiting Giant Rock when security and secrecy regarding UFOs increased in 1954.

There is a very fascinating description of this process in George Adamski´s Inside the Space Ships. During one of his contacts Adamski was told by one of the space people:
”Whenever possible these complex and highly sensitive little machines are returned to their parent craft, but sometimes, for one reason or another, the connection is broken and they go out of control or crash to the ground. In such cases emergency procedure is immediately brought into action. On each side of the mother ship, just below the disk-launching ports, is a magnetic ray projector. When a disk goes out of control, a ray is projected to disintegrate it. This accounts for some of the mysterious explosions that take place in your skies which cannot be accounted for by artillery, jet planes or electrical storms. On the other hand, if a disk goes out of control near the surface of the planet where an explosion might cause damage, it is allowed to descend to the ground where a milder charge is sent into it. Instead of an explosion, this causes the metal to disintegrate in slow stages. First it softens, then turns into a kind of jelly, then a liquid, and finally it enters a free state as gases, leaving not a wrack behind. This latter process is without danger to anyone or anything should the disk be touched while in process of disintegration. The only harm could come if, by chance, someone should see it fall and touch it at the moment the ray is applied.” (George Adamski, Inside the Space Ships, 1955 ed. p. 155).


Could the Ghost Rockets be some type of aerial device used by an alien group as described by Van Tassel and Adamski? This is just a theory of course but how come that these strange missiles are never found? And why the large concentration of Ghost Rocket reports in Scandinavia and especially Sweden?  

Friday, June 2, 2017

Esotericism and UFO Research

In 2013 my book Gudarna återvänder. Ufo och den esoteriska traditionen (Return of the Gods. UFOs and the Esoteric Tradition) was published. To my knowledge this was the first extensive study of how ideas and assertions in the Esoteric Tradition has influenced the UFO movement, both from a scholarly and esoteric perspective. But it was also an attempt to formulate a variant of the esoteric intervention theory, presented by Jacques Vallee in several books and articles.

As the book was only published in Swedish several of my many friends and UFO research colleagues around the world urged me to make an English translation. About a year ago I did begin translating the manuscript but soon discovered that so much additional interesting data had come my way since 2013 that I abandoned the idea. Instead I decided to publish a compilation of some of the relevant blog entries about UFOs and Esotericism written 2013-2017 with the title Esotericism and UFO Research. This compilation is only a selection and more data can be found on my blog.

To make reading easier I have arranged the blog entries in these main headings
Contents
Introduction
1. The Esoteric Tradition
2. Academic Esotericism
3. UFOs, Paranormal Phenomena and Esotericism
4. Esotericists, Ufologists, Researchers
5. Guides and Mentors
6. UFO Contactees, Case Histories
7. Miscellanea
Some Comments From Blog Readers

As I have not changed anything in the blog entries there will naturally be much repetition in the compilation. But I hope this study will be of interest and compensate readers who had hoped for a translation of my book.

I would like to express my deep gratitude to all friends and research colleagues worldwide who have provided much new data, encouragement and help in several ways.