You Know the Moon Controls the Spirits – Thoughts on the Perils and Promise of a New Space Age

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on July 7, 2020

Screen Shot 2019-07-16 at 8.41.02 PM.png“The skies are haunted by that which it were madness to know; and strange abominations pass evermore between earth and moon and athwart the galaxies. Unnamable things have come to us in alien horror and will come again. And the evil of stars is not as the evil of earth.” – Clark Ashton Smith, from The Beast of Averoigne

Unassuming artifacts – the black specks you see framed by a pale translucent circle in the photo to the right are ‘moon rocks‘ that were on display at the University of Georgia Special Collections Library as part of an exhibit celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Talismans of technological triumph, the precious nature of these tiny fragments was highlighted by the limited duration of their visit to the university campus – a short 2 hours on view to the public – and by a friendly armed guard sitting behind the viewing station.

Rare by mere fact of their origin, the sheer weight of these pieces is hard to put into words and goes far beyond their worth as cultural memorabilia. Their present location on earth is predicated by blood, sweat and sleepless nights – so many lives lost in test flights, lives spent in careers struggling to master the physical realm in order to reach for the stars, and the singular lives of those rare members of our species who trained their minds and bodies to endure the journey beyond earth and into the domain of our most mysterious nocturnal companion. Decades of dull white walls and worn desks, fiery experiments on desert mesas – an entire society organized to support the effort and an entire globe awaiting in anticipation to see if humanity is truly capable of such audacious applications of our collective will.


1967 illustration comparing the Apollo Saturn V to the Statue of Liberty.       Credit: NASA

Before launch, the Saturn V physically towered above Lady Liberty and symbolically spoke to a freedom far more improbable than that which could be secured within the borders of any continent or nation state.  This sense being realized upon the explorers return through the noetic vision brought back by those who journeyed beyond the sky.

As Steven Taylor reminds us in his Psychology Today article, The Lunar Effect: The Psychology of Space Travel (1):

“Of the 24 US astronauts who traveled to the moon in the late 1960s and early 70s, it seems that the majority had powerful peak experiences during their trip and were permanently transformed as a result.”

Tiny rocks beneath a magnifying glass in the upper floor of a university library embodying the transcendent vertigo of a historic moment when “the real had become more fantastic than the imagined…”(2) Tiny seeds from the past whose slow sprouting continues today as the United States once again reaches outwards with the heady goal of returning to the moon in 2024.

The Moon Controls the Spirits

13669681_10154397331211670_9157436069671858507_nThe rippling effect of such an effort trembles through society in many unexpected ways. J.E. McTeer, one time High Sheriff of Beaufort county South Carolina and a well known root doctor during his life, has a beautiful memoir called Fifty Years as a Low Country Witch Doctor – in it he mentions a local spiritual worker’s concern over the influence that the moon landing will have on the spiritual evolution of the world:

“Dr. Eagle (P.H. Washington) came into prominence as a witch doctor after the death of Dr. Buzzard. He is dead now, but for many years he was very much in the limelight as a news item. Whenever anything distressed him, he would call me in to help him solve the problem. One day Dr. Eagle called me on the telephone. His voice was very agitated, “Can you come to my house? I’ve got to see you,” he said. “Yes, I’ll be there,” I answered.

On arriving I found him waiting on the porch. “Let’s go to my room where we can talk privately.” He came right to the point. “You know the moon controls the spirits and makes the tide rise and fall; people go crazy on the full moon, and that’s when the magic is the strongest. Now I hear that people have landed on the moon. I saw the pictures on TV, but I still think it was a trick camera they used. Man don’t dare land on the moon with the spirits. What do you think?”

I thought hard. This was truly a disturbing happening, for the moon was the abode of the astral spirits whom the witch doctor called for aid. If man desecrated it by his presence, what impact would it have on the witch doctor’s power to invoke this aid? I did not want to lose face with Dr. Eagle, for I was a member of his fraternity.

I said, “I saw the pictures too, let’s just see what happens. Time will tell.” Dr. Eagle said, “I don’t think they landed, but if they did…watch out. Their minds can’t stand it. They are in deep trouble from now on.”

Yes, the astronauts landed on the moon, and I cannot help but think how prophetic Dr. Eagle’s prediction was. Practically every one who participated in the landing underwent a change of personality. There is nothing more frightening to the human mind than the unknown.” (3)

Let us not slight the concerns of experts in a field we do not understand – an old conjurer’s insight is worth more than most even when we suspect a con – so let’s consider it awhile. What would Dr. Eagle say  to the thought of provoking the strife worn and malefic powers of Mars as we seek to send explorers there?

Perhaps it’s too late – the cybernetic extension of our species has already touched the red planet with robot appendages – we have seen some of its surface with mechanical sensors. It may be that today we have conjurers whose occult prowess is ready to harness the potentials unleashed by our most secret science – whose mastery of space and spirit is such that they do not share the fears of Dr. Eagle and his fraternity.

With No Borders,  No Boundaries, and No Divisions

In The Medium is the Massage, Marshall McLuhan writes of our relationship to technology such as the Saturn V rocket in very intimate terms – ‘the wheel is an extension of the foot, the book is an extension of the eye, clothing is an extension of the skin, electric circuitry an extension of the nervous system – media by altering the environment, evoke in us unique ratios of sense perceptions. The extension of any one sense alters the way we think and act – the way we perceive the world. When these ratios change, men change.” (4) How strange it is then to consider the ramifications of our extended self emerging beyond the boundaries of earth’s immediate atmosphere and into the extended orbit of the moon – stranger still to consider journeys farther afield and eventually far beyond even the outer edges of our solar system.

“We have but a single astronaut channel on YouTube today—we’ll have thousands streaming down in the years to come. Each of these star travelers will share their own personal interpretation of that vision. Each will bring back their own reflections on the Overview Effect—the profound spiritual transformation all astronauts experience as they’re filled with overpowering and transcendent wonder, enlightenment, a sense of shared unity on seeing our homeworld from space. With no borders, no boundaries, and no divisions to keep us apart: how we’re all one people, and one race, sharing one destiny—wholly intertwined and interconnected.”

Futurist and civilian astronaut-in-training Christopher Altman in a Keynote on the Future of Space Exploration presented in 2015 speaks eloquently of what weight lies in the small black specks of moon rock. (5) Tiny though they are, they hold within them the unfolding of unimaginable futures as our species awakens from present dreams to find the cosmos alive with our own potential for evolution.

Yet for all of the potential here, all too often in our quest to conquer nature we do not always see these areas approached with open innocence and joyful exploration. In our world it is usually the case that we see a small portion of potential ripe for immediate exploitation and pursue it without cause to reflect on what such exploitation leads to over time.

The Distribution of Iron and Titanium Oxides

Such is the sense that comes with recent announcements from NASA on new studies related to the material composition of the moon. Framed though they are in terms of “(clearing) some muddy history about the Moon’s formation,” are we truly expected to trust, with so much emphasis being put space mining as the “new gold rush,” that history is the sole object of these investigations? (6)

“The team emphasizes that the new study can’t directly answer the outstanding questions about the Moon’s formation, but it does reduce the uncertainty in the distribution of iron and titanium oxides in the lunar subsurface and provide critical evidence needed to better understand the Moon’s formation and its connection to Earth.” (7)

Set the controls for the heart of the sun, and your sights on strip mining the galaxy to fulfill an abstract vision of human potential supported by commercial schemes and billionaire’s dreams. So it goes – our civilization is predicated on unbounded resource use, our thoughts of progress and potential evolution dependent on infinite exploitation of every available means to increase our material existence.

Dr. Eagle astutely saw this in his reflection on the 1969 moon landing.

“I don’t think they landed, but if they did…watch out. Their minds can’t stand it. They are in deep trouble from now on.”

More than even the act itself, the will to power that made such a feat possible, breaking such a deep traditional taboo for Dr. Eagle and his fraternity of healers, is the key to humanity’s greatest achievements and the source of its eventually demise if allowed to run unchecked. Having landed, humanity saw the fruit of its efforts rewarded. “Reaching the moon was a giant leap for mankind—and for the businesses behind the project. The Apollo program’s total cost was about $25.4 billion, about $152 billion in today’s dollars.” (8) Businesses that continue today to drive us forward in stripping the earth, and soon perhaps the stars, of all the resources that can be torn from the universe’s potential.

“The skies are haunted by that which it were madness to know.”

So too the mind of a humanity that has lost all bearing in its hungry sense of manifest destiny that extends beyond, with no borders, no boundaries and no divisions.


1. https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/out-the-darkness/201109/the-lunar-effect-the-psychology-space-travel
2. Norman Mailer, Of a Fire on the Moon, p. 128 (New American Library, 1969)
3. J.E. McTeer, Fifty Years as a Low Country Witch Doctor, pgs. 42-43 (Beaufort Book Co., 1976)
4. Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage (Penguin Books, 1971)
5. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B99KWApna6GoSllvdU1KZDZaZWVoQ0R5cm5hT2JZMEd3R3o4/view?
(6) https://www.sciencefocus.com/space/space-mining-the-new-goldrush/
(7) https://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/2020/moon-more-metallic-than-thought
(8) https://www.forbes.com/sites/alexknapp/2019/07/20/apollo-11-facts-figures-business/#38dae7f73377

Perceptual Gardening in the Fields of Popular Science — Quantum Entanglement, Non-Locality and the Psi Question

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on November 15, 2019


In 2013, at a Remote Viewing seminar for the Rhine Research Center, Ed May, former project director of Star Gate, the infamous U.S. “psychic spy” program, addressed a pair of questions that threatened to overheat the atmosphere of the peaceful two day event. The first was in regard to quantum entanglement and consciousness, and the second was on non-locality.

“Most of those speculations are complete crap.”

Now, before leaping to defend these concepts, or, if you are a bit more skeptical, applauding May’s directness, keep in mind that this man has spent the last three decades doing serious research into anomalous cognition, and helping to manage one of the most intensive operative psychical research programs in the 20th century. Sitting next to him was Joseph McMoneagle, one of the world’s most tested psychics and inner-space explorers, and he was in full agreement based on his own experience.

Also keep in mind that May works with, or has worked with, most of the serious researchers who are using these metaphors and allegorical comparisons in their public presentations. Which is the problem, these concepts are often presented as something more than allegorical comparisons, and the media just isn’t capable of addressing nuance when it’s easier, and more saleable, to jump on a pithy bit of erroneous scientific jargon.

Allegories and Models

Quantum entanglement and non-locality are very specific mathematical models used in physics, which apply to very specific areas of the physical world. As McMoneagle pointed out, neither of these models address what he experiences while working with Remote Viewing, or any other anomalous cognitive modality, nor do they address the core question of anomalous information transfer.

As specialized mathematical models they shouldn’t be expected to. It’s a huge leap to go from quirky quantum models to a human being able to draw an accurate picture of a top secret experimental Soviet submarine across the globe using nothing more than their mind.

As allegories these concepts of quantum entanglement and non-locality are no different than the use of the word telepathy to explain anomalous cognition while telegraphs, telephones, and television were the new fruit on the scientific vine. For those writers more keyed in on discoveries in magnetism consciousness was described as “thought vibrations” or in terms of magnetized fluid.

Questions in biology involving quantum functions are specialized and go far beyond the simple use of these concepts in the popular press. Theories, such as those of Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff, which posit quantum level aspects of consciousness, deal with very specific interactions between neurons. They don’t provide the kind of overarching theory of everything that phrases like “Quantum Consciousness” have come to mean in the popular conversation.

Nice Marketing, Bad Science

Want to know what you are like inside you? Well, your inner experience is kind of like that expensive thing we’re doing in R&D.

Does that provide a valid scientific model for consciousness? Not really, what it does is provide an allegorical or metaphorical comparison that can be used to write about consciousness within whatever language is current in the field of popular science.

It’s a nice marketing tool for the current scientific establishment, but it’s bad for science in the long run. It also becomes an easy blind for scam science being passed to the public in hazy terms that sound good enough to draw dollars, or alternative spiritualities masking themselves as rational inquiry. While there are exciting changes occurring in the sciences they are much more nuanced than the general accounts available in the media give credit to.

We all have the ability to personally engage with this research, but it has to be at the level of the research, and not scraping together a few crumbs from the newspaper and secondary sources. If you look at the more reasonable “quantum consciousness” books they all couch themselves in caveats such as stating the books “use the language and concepts of quantum physics” as explanatory devices, not as scientific models.

We get into even more fragile lines of comparison when we attempt to align spiritual systems with these concepts. Again we can easily fall into the error of mistaking resonance, with direct correspondence, and commingling different levels of discourse without taking care to understand important distinctions.

Allegories are very useful in thought experiments. However, thought experiments are exploratory tools, and the history of science shows this exploration moves towards an ever elusive and ephemeral goal. The eschatological politicized narrative of the media, where some glowing moment of progress will answer all of our deepest questions, hampers serious inquiry by reifying these allegorical comparisons into a false end game.

Observations & Phenomena

May also addressed common confusion over the idea of the observer effect in quantum physics, and the observer effect in psychical research. These two concepts often become enmeshed in the same sloppy narrative, yet just as with the other allegorical comparisons, we have a mathematical model dealing with wave functions in experimental physics, and in psychical research we have an effect where the researcher’s attitude and intentionappears to have some correlation with the results of the experiment.

Because the thought experiment used to describe the observer effect in physics sounds similar to what is seen in experiments in psychical research, ie. the experimenter affects the experiment, careless coverage can conflate the two into a single narrative. Yet all we really have here is the fact that a descriptive story used to explain and work with an abstract mathematical model is similar to how we describe what happens in the lab during psi experiments. The stories are similar, the subject of the story is not.

A Renaissance in Consciousness Studies

Reading this I hope you haven’t gotten the sense that May is some grumpy materialist bent on destroying a renaissance in consciousness studies. In fact he is a virulently curious and thorough researcher who is concerned that clumsy coverage of these areas is hindering, not helping, serious investigation and practical development.

He ran a program that successfully integrated anomalous cognitive functioning with high level government intelligence, and is well aware of what approaches seem to work, what approaches don’t, and what questions remain unanswered.

Skeptics of the Remote Viewing program like to point out that it was shut down after the American Institutes for Research review of program found that there was no practical value in continuing research and application. May has responded to these criticisms in a paper published in the Journal of Parapsychology, and added during the recent seminar that when the records from the program were declassified it turned out that the majority of the reports he had sent in for the review were unopened.

Another reason to avoid easy explanations comes from McMoneagle’s personal experience. Easy language and marketable jargon simply don’t help you develop your perceptual awareness. For those serious about investigating the potential of their minds, allowing yourself to accept degraded conceptual models only serves to slow progress.

Political Realities & Cutting Edge Research

Having dealt with the dirty political realities of cutting edge research and development, it’s horrific to scientists like May when they see their work further confused through lazy journalism and popularizers seeking to profit from the public’s credulity. There are valuable insights to be shared and explored that go far beyond the utopian fantasies evoked by the less credible popularizers of consciousness studies.

One of the most important lessons I’ve taken from my time at the Rhine Research Center with researchers like Russell Targ, Ed May and Joe McMoneagle is that the basics of psychic functioning are quite simple, so simple that the real work is in undoing the habitual mental behavior that keeps us from accessing them. This includes losing our preconceptions of what “psychic functioning” is.

Some people are more talented in these areas than others, and while exercising these skills can help anyone gain a better understanding of their perceptual biases, only those with an innate capability are able to get results on par with psychics like McMoneagle.

When paying for Remote Viewing training, or any other consciousness development training that aims at objective use, you need to take these things into account, or become grossly discouraged when you walk away with less than you expected to get out of the lessons. As the contemplative practitioner David Chaim Smith once told me, true gnosis is worth nothing, who would pay for that?

You Can’t Pay for It

More importantly, don’t get tricked into thinking you can pay for it in anything other than personal experience. Joe McMoneagle has had multiple Near Death Experiences, saw some of the most brutal aspects of the Vietnam war and Cold War as an active Army Intelligence operative, and has benefitted from some of the most advanced research and training in the area of psychic development. He’s a weaponized psychic, a professionally trained psychonaut, and to assume that you could buy into that without the same degree of personal experience, dedication and extensive training is rather foolish.

In the midst of all of this there are amazing insights into our reality awaiting those that would pursue them with diligence. Ed May says that he’s never had a paranormal experience or seen anything paranormal, but he has worked with some of the most thoroughly tested psychics in the world. His curiosity and enjoyment of life allows him to keep an open mind without romanticising the experience.

Russell Targ’s work on laser guidance systems for Lockheed Martin bears a surprising resonance with his work in the development of Remote Viewing protocols that allow the mind to become a sort of laser-like long distance guidance system accessing information outside of all expected boundaries. Working in both the very real mechanics of physics, while thinking freely about the implications of his experimental research, allows him to access to a wider range of possibilities.

Exploring Consciousness

If we are serious about exploring consciousness, and the implications of advanced research, we have to be serious about the integrity of our investigation at every level. McMoneagle admits that his skills are not 100% accurate, and that what he has been able to do raises more questions than it really answers. The seductive voice of an easy sell won’t guide us to those rare insights we seek, especially treading in some of the more uncertain areas of science.

Integral experience and insight into the human condition can only be found by tending to your own perceptual gardens. Allowing our understanding to be clouded with poorly interpreted models haphazardly appropriated from physics does nothing to further our quest.

These are not easy areas to engage with, depending on what specialized area of knowledge you are coming from the questions take on different aspects. Physicists, chemists, philosophers, cognitive scientists, artists, religious authorities, spiritual teachers, and every other area of human endeavor has in some way sought to explain the question of consciousness. All of them gnawing on a different chunk of the existential elephant.

Perceptual Gardening — A Brief, and Necessarily Incomplete, List of Resources

For those interested in joining the feast, and investigating these prickly questions, here is a list of resources that I’ve found useful. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the topic of consciousness, and the extensive depth of the field, it’s impossible to bring together a short list of material that covers everything.

My own predilections towards psychical research at the moment are very much in evidence, as it seems to me that until the questions raised by research into anomalous cognition can be settled it’s difficult to adventure too far into reductionist theories without danger of losing something valuable:

The book Mind and Consciousness: 5 Questions, contains interviews with a number of leading cognitive theorists, including leading materialist thinkers, providing a valuable introduction to some of the more mainstream theories of mind that are currently in play.

Thomas Nagel’s book Mind and Cosmos: Why the Materialist Neo-Darwinian Conception of Nature Is Almost Certainly False provides a philosophical argument for cultivating a greater level of nuance in discussing these complicated areas of investigation.

Russell Targ’s webpage has links to the Classics in Consciousness series he edited for Hampton Roads, as well as links to his own books on the subject. These provide insights into the more established studies in the area of anomalous cognition: http://www.espresearch.com/

Ed May has made a number of his papers available on the Cognitive Science Laboratory website, including updated information on Russian psychical experiments, and research protocols for those interested in gaining a practical understanding of Remote Viewing experiments: http://www.lfr.org/lfr/csl/academic/library.html and http://www.lfr.org/LFR/csl/academic/whitepapers.html

Dean Radin has a collection of selected peer-reviewed journal publications on psi research available for download from his website: http://deanradin.com/evidence/evidence.htm

Robert Jahn and Brenda Dunne’s book Consciousness and the Source of Reality discusses the theories that have came out of their work with the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory.

Irreducible Mind: Toward a Psychology for the 21st Century, from Edward Kelly and Emily Williams Kelly, Department of Psychiatric Medicine at the University of Virginia, provides an overview of research that challenges reductionist models of the mind.

The Hyperspace of Consciousness — Author Interview with Massimo Teodorani — Teodorani tackles the issue of ‘quantum consciousness’ through the lens of hard science — http://psican.org/index.php/books-a-resources-reviews/1007-the-hyperspace-of-consciousness-author-interview

For those interested in more direct experience, these groups and organizations regularly holds talks, seminars and workshops with leading researchers in the field:

The Rhine Research Center http://www.rhine.org

The Institute of Noetic Sciences: http://www.noetic.org

Society for Psychical Research: http://www.spr.ac.uk/main/

Anthropology, Consciousness and Culture: http://anthreligconsc.weebly.com/

The Windbridge Research Center: http://www.windbridge.org

Threshold: Journal of Interdisciplinary Consciousness Studies: http://www.windbridge.org/threshold/

As my own list is admittedly biased, what are some resources that you’ve found are valuable? Please feel free to add and discuss recommendations in the comments section.

Witness of Another World – Exploring the Soul of a Phenomenon

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on October 21, 2019


A child in rural Argentina walks out of his house in order to attend his daily chores and experiences something so profound that it initiates him as an unlikely emissary for a mystery of cosmic proportions – what sounds like the plot to an upcoming Netflix sci-fi series is the actual, lived experience of Juan Pérez, the main subject in Argentinian filmmaker Alan Stivelman’s 2018 documentary, Testigo de Otro Mundo (Witness of Another World)

1978 –  The young witness, Juan O. Perez, had gone out at dawn to bring in a herd of horses in Venado, Tuerto, Argentina. At 6:45 a.m. as he rode his horse through the morning fog he felt something fly overhead. Next, several objects appeared and began maneuvering overhead, emitting powerful beams of multicolored, changing lights. His horse panicked and he barely managed to ride back home. When he got home, his father reprimanded him and ordered him to go back to get the horses. Back in the field he encountered a large round object on the ground; it had a dome on top with several round windows. A door in the craft opened, and a seven-foot tall being wearing gloves and a cylindrical helmet appeared. The being seemed to be attached to the object by some type of breathing apparatus. He invited Juan to come inside. They boy then tied his horse to the craft’s ladder and climbed in. Inside, he was able to see a panel with buttons, tables, and a small robot-like being that was apparently busy disecting the large bones of some animals resembling either cows or horses. Afraid, the boy jumped out of the object and onto the ground. The tall being followed him out. He then requested that the giant give him one of the giant’s gloves, as proof of the experience, and when he removed the glove he then saw that the being had green, claw-like hands with blue metallic nails. The being then pricked Juan’s right arm, apparently extracting some blood in the process. As he rode back toward home carrying the glove, two flying objects caught up with him and emitted a small slab and sphere that descended and brushed by the horse, pulling off the glove like a magnet. Another curious feature of his report was that while inside the UFO the young witness attempted to touch the being and the object several times, but was prevented from doing it by what appeared to be an invisible barrier. Six days prior to the incident the witness’s father had found a mutilated cow in one of his pastures. (Source: Albert S. Rosales, 1978 Humanoid Sighting Reports database, case # 919, citing Jacques Vallee, Confrontations: A Scientist’s Search for Alien Contact). (1)

The details of this account were presented in Confrontations – A Scientists Search for Alien Contact, published in 1990 by Jacques Vallee, a computer scientist, venture capitalist and investigator of the UFO phenomenon. (2) Looking at 40 cases of reported contact, the book outlines the regularity across time and culture of these accounts which defy our present understanding and seeks to invite a closer examination of the very real effects these events have on the individuals they happen to and communities in which they occur. 

Unknown-4When treated as data points after the fact it is easy to read accounts of witnesses and experiencers as singular events, focusing on details that confirm favored theories as to what occurred, and in the process overlook the integral ways which these events encompass past, present and future experiences and form a centralizing or organizing factor in the personal identity of those who have them. (3) Juan’s story as it unfolds in the documentary shows how the experiential factors exist outside of subjective and objective considerations, providing the ground upon which the terrifying and profound possibilities of these events rest.

In his journals from the period in which Confrontations was published, Vallee speaks of this complexity as he reflects on a colleague’s thought, saying “Aime Michel discovered how transcendence extended to the physical world. He was waiting for the connection while doubting that mere mortals were capable of it.” (4) Crossing boundaries of time, media, culture, lineage and tradition, Juan’s story as expressed in Witness of Another World demonstrates this connection – providing a deeply human window into the personal nature of our interactions with the phenomenon and its role in shaping our perceptions about what is possible.

Messenger for a New Vision of the Cosmos

From the initial investigation of his account and the attention of local media in Argentina – through Vallee’s involvement in the case, written up years later in his book Confrontations – and now with his role as the central character in a wonderfully moving documentary by Alan Stivelman – Juan has become a messenger for a new vision of the cosmos which encompasses the wisdom of indigenous cultures and the resources and technical proficiency of the contemporary global society.

Click Here to Watch the Film – Available October 22, 2019

The documentary opens to an immediate reflection on the longevity of this phenomenon with a montage of images similar to those included in Jacques Vallee and Chris Aubeck’s compendium, Wonders in the Sky: Unexplained Aerial Objects from Antiquity to Modern Times (Tarcher/Perigree, 2010). These images highlight the mediation and the use of media that frames and affects our understanding of the unexplained.  Accompanied by these powerful historic images. Stivelman’s introductory monologue on the mystery of these events sets the tone for us to begin to step outside of the familiar flying saucer mythos that has become the dominant expression of the phenomenon in our time.

Screen Shot 2019-10-20 at 1.59.03 PM.png

As we have come to know it, the UFO emerged as a mediated concept in popular culture  towards the end of World War II and developed throughout the Cold War period. (5)  Within this climate unidentified aerial phenomenon became tied in the public consciousness to questions of technology, space travel, national security, nuclear proliferation and global progress – however, as we soon discover with the story of Juan Perez, there are much deeper issues at play which are not so easily codified.

Within a three-week period in September 1978 there were four dramatic UFO cases in Venado Tuerto, a small town three hours southwest of Rosario, Argentina. In the first case, a young carpenter named Alberto saw seven objects and two beings on the ground. In the second case, a twelve-year-old boy named Oscar saw three objects and went inside one of them, interacting with a very tall man and a small robot. In the third case, a sixteen-year-old baker named Francisco felt intense heat from a luminous object during a blackout of the local transformer. And in the fourth incident, a twenty-three-year-old man who was driving at night was “teleported” over four miles and had to be admitted to a local clinic for chest pains.”  – Jacques Vallee, Confrontations – A Scientists Search for Alien Contact, p. 121 (Ballantine Books, 1990) (6)

Of the four recorded encounters in this particular region of Argentina during 1978, it seems that Juan alone has become the center of a much wider web of influence. While the other individuals have certainly been affected, he alone seems to have faced what looks very much like an initiatory journey. This extends to his becoming the subject of Stivelman’s documentary – without which he would not have come into contact with the teachings of his ancestral lineage with the Guarani people.

“One strange thing you have seen is for you to believe. You can also see, so it happens to you in your flesh, in your body to make you believe. If you didn’t believe at first now you will believe in this. What has happened in the past, happened for a reason…things appear to those who want to know, so he or she can teach others…” – Plutarco, Shaman Mbya and Guarani Elder (7)


Entwined With the Phenomenon

Here we have a documentary that is a media object entwined with the phenomenon. Rather than simply a film, Witness of Another World is in itself an aspect and extension of the surprising and world shattering encounter that Juan Perez had in 1978.

This wider conceptual environment in which the phenomenon exists can be understood through the work of Dr. Jeffrey Kripal, Associate Dean of the Humanities and J. Newton Rayzor Professor of Religion at Rice University, who explores it in terms of stories and narrative:

“I read the paranormal as a semiotic event that plays out on both the mental/subjective and material/physical planes as a bridging sign or mediating story between two orders of experience: one conscious and constructed, the other not. Such a project, of course, violates our Cartesian epistemologies involving an interior, solipsistic, illusory subject looking out onto a real but dead, indifferent, and inert objective world ruled entirely by math and mechanism. It is this same useful Cartesian mistake that renders such events “impossible,” even though they happen all the time.” (8)

Coming from the academic discipline of religious studies, Kripal’s words nevertheless mirror elements found in the Guarani elders’ presentation of the phenomenon. Songs, poems and storytelling express a cosmology where humanity is not separate from the universal order – nor are the beings encountered during these events separate – each is an aspect of a greater whole, whose interactions transcend and transmutate the binary divisions of our limited “Cartesian epistemologies.

For the Guarani the phenomenon takes on the role of an emissary from dimensions within and beyond the earth and the celestial bodies in the visible sky – initiating some individuals into the role of intermediating different orders of being. A UFO event such as Juan’s can signal the beginning of a transformation in which the experiencer becomes the sensory system for another level of consciousness.

“So as far as we know, the inward vision, that comes from the clairvoyant, is sent down…the claivoyant was sent by Nanderu (God) and it was his son. He sends him so he can see humans and hear humans.” – Typyrendyju, Shaman Pai Tavytera and Guarani Elder (7)

This deep connection is not anomalous or surprising within the cosmology of the Guarani – the surprise is that nearly the entire world has lost the ability to integrate these levels of being and has become alienated from the cosmos itself. A situation which parallels a global environmental crisis that requires this lived connection to rectify. Juan’s lived experience provides a bridge between worlds, retying some of threads of meaning that have been severed in our contemporary culture.

The Traces It Leaves

08_TESTIGO_DE_OTRO_MUNDO-1.jpgWitness to Another World gives us a rare opportunity to experience the phenomenon in the traces it leaves in the lives of all those that it touches. We see Alan Stivelman’s sensitive exploration of his own beliefs as he creates the documentary. We see Jacques Vallee’s emotional reunion with a boy he met three decades ago in the course of his investigations, who has now become a man seeking to integrate the experiences he had. We see additional witnesses who reflect on their own experiences and the effects of the phenomenon over their lives. And we see the bridging of cultures brought together by a mystery and the emergence of new understanding as the phenomenon speaks to a deeper unity within our divided world.

Looking back to 1978 the importance of this personal element is highlighted in a conversation between Vallee and fellow researcher Jerome Clark that was published by Fate Magazine:

“The thing I really want to emphasize is that the investigator’s first responsibility is to the witness and not to the UFO phenomenon. The average witness is in shock because he’s had a very traumatic experience; what he’s seen is going to change his life. Your intervention, the very fact that you’re talking with him about it, is also going to have an effect on him. Now he may say to you, “I need help to understand what I saw,” but in fact he needs more immediate help as a human being who is deeply troubled by a very disturbing experience.

Unfortunately this element has been neglected. The more UFO investigators try to appear “professional,” the more they ignore that human aspect – and by extension their own ethical obligations. I want to convince my friends in UFO research that whenever we have a choice between obtaining interesting UFO data and taking chances with the life of a human being, we should forget the UFO data.” (9)

Along with Juan’s encounter, Witness of Another World gives us brief glimpses into the other witnesses who experienced dramatic unexplained phenomenon in the area during that period in 1978. Each person has integrated the events in a different way – while all share the unmooring effect that the events had on their lives. For these individuals 1978 was the year that they came into contact with something so radically other that it altered their view of consensus reality.

Visions of the Future

01_TESTIGO_DE_OTRO_MUNDOIn Juan’s case social isolation and a sense of exile from his community followed his experiences. His association with the UFO event served to cast an uneasy frame on the precognitive dreams that he reports experiencing after the events of 1978. Visions of future accidents and even deaths were a systematic shock to his sense of reality and to his relationship with family, friends and community members.

Thirty years later, after decades of alienation, these confusing and painful dream visions become the key to a reintegration within his community and with the wider community of his ancestral relations among the Guarani people. In turn we are all given the testimony of a wider relationship with a cosmos that is alive with unity and diversity constantly communicating through the intermediary of extraordinary every day contact with another realm of being.

In 2003 Jacques Vallee and physicist Eric W. Davis translated details from these types of experiences into a 6-layer Model for Anomalous Phenomena for a paper presented at a conference hosted by the Centro Transdisciplinar de Estudos da Consciencia at the Universidad Fernando Pessoa in Portugal. (10)

“The main argument presented in this paper is that the continuing study of unidentified aerial phenomena (“UAP”) may offer an existence theorem for new models of physical reality.

…the authors attempt to clarify the issues surrounding “high strangeness” observations by distinguishing six layers of information that can be derived from UAP events, namely (1) physical manifestations, (2) anti-physical effects, (3) psychological factors, (4) physiological factors, (5) psychic effects and (6) cultural effects. In a further step they propose a framework for scientific analysis of unidentified aerial phenomena that takes into account the incommensurability problem.” (11)

The experience of a boy in rural Argentina speaks to the possibility of new models of physical reality, new models of consciousness and new models of community – surprising associations for an event associated with a subject like the UFO phenomenon that has been cast off for so long by serious researchers.

A Wider Tapestry of Worldwide Beliefs

In Confrontations, Vallee says that “the material studied by ufology is only valuable to the extent that it fits into the much wider tapestry of worldwide beliefs about contact with aliens throughout history.” With Witness of Another World director Alan Stivelman has given us a chance to see a bit more of this wider tapestry.  Juan’s experience and the complex weaving of relationships around it allows us to see beyond the UFO’s cultural mythos and into the potential of these encounters to speak to us of new worlds lying just beyond the horizon.

The documentary provides entrance to a mystery and initiation that lies at the heart of spiritual traditions around the globe – an outer phenomenon that calls us inward – a vision of high technology calling us back to direct contact with nature – a state of alienation that leads to greater communitas – a domain where scientific understanding emerges from spiritual experiences.

Presenting a vision of humanity’s future etched in a Gauchos tears, Witness of Another World paints a beautiful portrait of a phenomenon which has no suitable name to encompass it. The film is an important reminder to seek out the soul of the phenomenon and the human side to “alien” contact in a time when aspects of the UFO enigma are seeing increasing attention from military contractors and corporate media – watch it with an open heart and you will not need a name to be transported by this moving testament to the mysterious ways in which transcendence extends to the physical world.

Listen to an interview with the director, Alan Stivelman courtesy of Radio Misterioso (12):





(1) http://www.ufoinfo.com/onthisday/September06.html
(2) http://www.iftf.org/what-we-do/who-we-are/affiliates/jaques-vallee/
(3) Sept. 6, 1978; Venado Tuerto, Argentina
6:45 AM. Round object, 30′ in diameter, 15′ high, hemispherical dome on top. Several round windows. Multicolored lights. One giant humanoid, over 7′ tall. Green hand, blue conical nails, long gloves, cylindrical helmet. One robot, not described. Object on ground with hatch open. Witness stands in doorway. Giant occupant pricked witness’s shoulder with nails. Robot inside craft cutting and packaging cattle parts. Witness flees.
(4) “It’s essential to describe the facts as we know them, along with the mistakes that we keep making. Aime Michel discovered how transcendence extended to the physical world. He was waiting for the connection while doubting that mere mortals were capable of it.” – Jacques Vallée, Forbidden Science Vol. 4 – Journals 1990-1999, The Spring Hill Chronicles, p. 155
(5) Brenda Densler, The Lure of the Edge – Scientific Passions, Religious Beliefs and the Pursuit of UFOs (University of California Press, 2003)
(6) Jacques Vallee, Confrontations – A Scientists Search for Alien Contact, p. 121 (Ballantine Books, 1990)
(7) Witness of Another World (Humano Films, 2018)
(8) https://tif.ssrc.org/2011/04/26/reading-the-paranormal-writing-us-an-interview-with-jeffrey-kripal/
(9) Jacques Vallee in conversation with Jerome Clark, Fate Magazine, 1978  http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc608.htm
(10) http://www2.ufp.pt/activa.htm
(11) Jacques Vallee and Eric W. Davis, Incommensurability, Orthodoxy and the Physics of High Strangeness: A 6-layer Model for Anomalous Phenomena (Centro Transdisciplinar de Estudos da Consciencia, 2003)
(12) http://radiomisterioso.com/2019/10/21/alan-stivelman-witness-of-another-world/ 


Special thanks to Alan Stivelman and Humano Films for providing access to a pre-release version of the film for review. 

They Will Not Have to Tell Me, I Will Know – Sheriff J.E. McTeer and the succession of a spiritual worker

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on September 17, 2019

“They were sought out by the community for help to determine what is causing problems of all types from love to ghosts to just plain bad luck. Sadly, when things went wrong they also risked becoming a community scapegoat.

In every community in the U.S. since colonial days, there were people who acted in this sort of manner. It is interesting to note that I have found a lot of evidence of these sorts of practices here in southcentral Kentucky. When I have spoken publicly about the book people always come up to me to tell stories of their grandma’s magic, how they were cured by a healer and how they remember being treated with herbs and so forth.

By the way, I am not referring to the New Age folks in very recent times who have tried to adopt these techniques to what is called the Neo-Shamanic movement. This is the magic and folk wisdom that Grandma and Grandpa used to employ. ”

– Jack Montgomery, author of American Shamans: Journeys with Traditional Healers (1)

13775396_10154397329246670_5345376281602678814_nJ.E. McTeer was a sheriff in South Carolina who brought traditional practices into his work as a law enforcement officer during the mid-20th century. His book, 50 Years as a Low Country Witch Doctor, is an incredible testament of a man who bridged worlds and broke boundaries.

Here is a sheriff in the segregated climate of the southern U.S. who not only ignored social norms in order to foster a true sense of community – he embraced a way of life and practice that took him into the uncharted and liminal territories of the invisible world and the ‘closed societies’ of practice where he learned his craft. In the heated environment of the south he ignored racial boundaries and learned directly from black spiritual workers and shared in their secrets – admitted into mysteries that were demonized and mocked by the popular press of the day. In doing so he became a vital force for bridging the black and white cultural divide – and more than simply helping those who sought him with their individual ailments, he helped to foster a deeper healing within the spirit of America itself.

When I last read the book one of the things that struck me most was his statements regarding his concerns that there would be no one to follow him in the role of community healer when he died:

“The only qualm I have is, who will succeed me?

There are many, many requirements. You must have the power to make yourself believed, but even more important , you must believe in yourself. Genetically, your cells should inform you, as your brain develops, if you have been endowed with ‘special gifts.’ If so, the road to your future has been decided for you…

These are the qualities I look for in a successor:

A person who is virtually retired and financially able and willing to help people. This person’s reward will be the satisfaction othat he or she has restored many lives to normalcy, and indeed, has saved some.

A great many people have come to ask me to teach them how I perform my cures. So far none have had the emanation of kinetic force which I know they must have in order to impart it into the mind of the one seeking help.

I have not given up. They will not have to tell me; I will know. I only hope it is soon, very soon.” (2)

13680791_10154397329316670_3001785398803621083_nThese are important considerations for all of those pursuing a path as spiritual workers.

Not only do you need focus and intention – but you need to be touched with the power of presence as well. Jack Mongomery, quoted at the beginning of this post, met McTeer and gives further credence to the legacy of this amazing man:

“I met and spent time with a famous root-doctor named James McTeer of Beaufort, S.C., who was known to treat clients from all over the world.

A former High-Sherriff, Mr. McTeer was an amazing man with a magnetic personality. It was a privilege to be in his company and witness his magical work.

After his death in 1979, the county named a bridge for him bearing a plaque that honors him as a “legendary lawman, author, spellbinder and raconteur.” (1)

In our violent and dissembled world the legacy of folks like J.E. McTeer is a powerful reminder that there is another way – and a reminder of the very real responsibilities that those on a true spiritual path need to reckon with. I don’t think McTeer’s found his successor yet, but I echo him in his hopes that they come “soon, very soon.”


For more on the inspired life of the High Sheriff see: 

Quintessentially Lowcountry: Sheriff J.E. McTeer  – https://www.islandpacket.com/news/local/article33390648.html

(1) Jack Montgomery’s work American Shamans: Journeys with Traditional Healers explores the world of American folk healers, including his friendship with Lee Gande, a Hexenmeister in the Deutsch PowWow tradition – the quotes here come from an interview with The Amplifer.
(2) J.E. McTeer, 50 Years as a Low Country Witchdoctor (Beaufort Book Co., 1976)

A Curious Mental Experiment – Co-Creation, Ars Combinatoria and the Infinite Game

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on August 28, 2019

Llullian Wheel – Photo: Mariano Tomatis

“Any fact becomes important when it’s connected to another.” ― Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

There are a few figures that stand out as particularly relevant for framing the Liminal Analytics approach to the contemporary zeitgeist. 14th century Catalan contemplative, missionary and logician, Raymond Llull is one of my favorites.

While attending a technology event in Naperville, Illinois many years ago I had the opportunity to discuss Llull’s work on early information theory with the Chief Information Security Officer at Argonne National Labs – a topic that Dr. Diana Pasulka and I address in a co-authored piece for the upcoming anthology Believing in Bits- Digital Media and the Supernatural (Oxford University Press, 2019).(1)

Despite his interest, the fellow from Argonne had no idea who Llull was – and right then and there the “Angelic Doctor,” as Llull is known, became a chief impetus in the founding of Liminal Analytics.

That conversation helped me realize that our cultural memory is limited – we have a drastic sense of amnesia as to how we’ve ended up where we’re at. Now I won’t pretend to have many answers for such a profound issue, but there are some key figures that have been forgotten who can help us get a better sense of things.  Figures such as our very own Raymond Llull.

So who is this enigmatic information theorist?

Well, the gist of it is that Llull is a rather complex character.  As I’ve outlined in a piece for The Global Catholic Review:

“…our missionary, the ‘Angelic Doctor’ Ramon Llull, was passionate about translating the message of Christ and had an ardent faith in the Catholic doctrine of God’s perfection. With those two pillars set in place Llull went on to a produce a prolific output of over 200 books on a diverse array of topics and developed what he called the Ars Magna, or the Great Art – an incredibly complex memory system and symbolic science that used tables and cipher-wheels to codify the common language with which all the Abrahamic faiths use to describe God and God’s perfect creation.

It was Llull’s hope that through this exact science representatives of Judaism, Christianity and Islam would be able to reason together and clearly outline the illuminated nature of Divinity and the perfection of nature found in God’s creation, at least insofar as that’s possible through human reasoning.

Lull’s ideas are certainly not what we’re used to hearing from the Silicon Valley set and his diagrams don’t look very much like computer software, let alone some as complex as artificial intelligence, but that’s because you might not think of A.I. like this:


While Llull intended only the most basic mechanical devices to assist his art – relatively simple wheels and comparative charts – in developing and working with this system he changed the very nature of how he thought about thinking, and in so doing he changed the architecture of thought in those that followed him.

This subtle alteration helped foment the future of information science, and while it may seem hyperbolic to lay the weight of such a feat upon one individual, it was this one individual whose prolific output, evangelical enthusiasm and visionary expression inspired future generations to explore and expand upon these ideas.”(2)

Heady stuff I know, but let me tell you – these explorations aren’t limited to tech labs – take a look at the fun that his profound work can inspire in the right creative hands.

“Everything is repeated, in a circle. History is a master because it teaches us that it doesn’t exist. It’s the permutations that matter.” Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

For a performance back in 2013, Magic Experience Designers Ferdinando Buscema and Mariano Tomatis took inspiration from Llull, and using a replica of one of his ars combinatoria wheels provided by Liminal Analytics (with a few choice modifications) they were able to blow the mind of David Pescovitz, founder of well known web magazine Boing Boing, during the Boing Boing Ingenuity Event and Hackathon held at a former Masonic Lodge in San Francisco:

The ‘Llullian Wheel‘ shown in Buscema’s hands above appears at around 5 minutes and 30 seconds into the video itself.

The wheel housed in Buscema’s personal Wunderkamer is one of a limited number that were created for a select group of individuals during 2012 and early 2013. These wheels were distributed within the close circle of Liminal Analytics confidants who have provided particular inspiration to our work.

In a way, the wheels demonstrate what happens when we utilize the combinatronic aspects of our contemporary communication networks to bounce ideas back and forth in an infinite game of co-creative activity.  Mariano says of this type of play:

“…to “participate” is to narrate its story, add details, publish articles, discuss on web forums, create maps, suggest new links, propose extensions into new disciplines, write books, organize meetings.”(3)

So here we are, a global network of inspired individuals playing a game with a 14th century visionary – and Mariano himself just put out the next move!

As part of his ongoing web series Mesmer in Pillole (Mesmer in pills), which is ‘dedicated to those who believe that the world is a boundless museum of wonders,‘ he’s developed a new magic effect inspired by Llull’s combinatorial device:

English captions are available on the video for those who don’t speak Italian – as you watch you’ll see how something as simple as Llull’s wheel can open up new worlds of understanding. There’s also a special treat here for fans of Umberto Eco’s work, with Mariano demonstrating how these wheels play a crucial part in the plot of his most famous novel, Foucault’s Pendulum.

“I have come to believe that the whole world is an enigma, a harmless enigma that is made terrible by our own mad attempt to interpret it as though it had an underlying truth.” ― Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

In the story Eco outlines the moves of an infinite game played with deadly stakes – and demonstrates how easily players become played if they are not careful in how they approach the liminal boundaries of these curious mental experiments. Our game, though perhaps less deadly, is no less dramatic in our quest to illuminate the hidden influences pushing and pulling at our global culture as we move into the future.

For my part, it’s a profound honor to play with the likes of my magically adept friends from Italy. What a wonder to see how such a simple little artifact can open so many fresh experiential dimensions – and as always, I look forward to the next move!

To further explore the work of these wondrous wonder makers:

Mariano Tomatis: http://www.marianotomatis.it/en/

Ferdinando Buscema: https://www.ferdinando.biz


(1) https://global.oup.com/academic/product/believing-in-bits-9780190949990
(2) https://www.patheos.com/blogs/theglobalcatholicreview/2018/06/gods-machine/
(3) http://www.marianotomatis.it/blog.php?post=blog/20110623&section=english
(4) http://www.mesmer.it/?id=pillole

Your Mind is the Best Laboratory There Is – Thoughts on Experimental Listening for Would-Be Time Travelers

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on February 9, 2019

“The ethereal nature of poetic resonances teaches us about the inner dimensions. It is up to us to immerse ourselves and trod through the gross associative landscape of common expectations to recognize the buried treasure in our midst. But no matter how strong and beautiful feeling tones may appear, they are still traps. The arrow of mind must not stop at any target. Hitting a target means grasping at some phenomena, whether it is a paradise or a hell realm.

The pursuit of gnosis has no end. No stoppage point should deter its longing for the infinite. The goal is for the dynamism of the arrow to be realized as equal to the space in which it flies. The open nature of that dynamism usurps its linear motion, and a new aspect of its meaning becomes possible, and it is reborn. In this manner we approach En Sof, the unattainable.

If the arrow stops and hits any target, contemplation is officially over.”

– David Chaim Smith

1*6JrZzliFxBv7DEJDVJmRtwLiving near the Georgia Guidestones, I am constantly reminded that the world is filled with strange frequencies. When the famed near-death researcher, Dr. Raymond Moody was developing The Dr. John Dee Memorial Theater of the Mind to facilitate his experiments with mirror scrying and the therapeutic effects of necromantic divination, he followed certain design principles aimed at developing a sense of temporal displacement in those who would enter the institute’s psychomanteum chamber hoping to manifest an apparition of a past loved one. He found that creating an environment where ideas of time and place are displaced through mismatching antiques and curios was a powerful way to draw the seeker out of their normal sense of self.

The town of Elberton, Georgia where the Guidestones are located, and really the entire surrounding area, needs no additional tweaks to accomplish this displacement. Situated in the midst of antiquated farms, untended woodlands and the general pace of rural life one is immersed in an atemporal environment where contemporary influences mix freely with the decaying images of the past — dead memories dance in step with the living present to create an phantasmal environment that is prime for contemplative experimentation.

Another benefit to this sense of being out of sync with time is that it naturally facilitates the kind of poetic unmooring mentioned in the opening citation from contemplative Kabbalist David Chaim Smith. Within this kind of environment it is much easier to cultivate the ability to access a constant state where “the open nature of that dynamism usurps its linear motion, and a new aspect of its meaning becomes possible.” Ancient farm houses crumble to the sound of trains pulling contemporary commercial and industrial production through the beautiful landscape.

Signs of nature returning to claim its own appear all around as agriculture struggles to maintain a grip. Historic buildings house modern businesses, antiquated cars park next to new models, and the whole thing spins a strange web of discontinuous phenomenal fluctuation while people live their lives in whatever capacity they can, with whatever is on hand.

In an essay titled A Silence That Speaks: The All-Embracing Unification of Space and Mind, which appears in John Zorn’s Arkana V anthology, Smith discusses how these resonant environments can be created simply through sound meditation when one is not immediately surrounded by the convenient discongruity of a place like Moody’s Theater of the Mind or the pleasantly atemporal environment of north Georgia:

“Music, like all great artforms, has the capacity to point to the absolute within itself. “

In his visual art Smith uses these concepts to bridge the rhythmic and tonal qualities of imagery and words with the all encompassing sense of immersive soundscapes. One of the first keys to contemplative work is being able to access the cognitive field in which all of the senses merge into one, seeking this image of the absolute forms a core component of Smith’s practice, both artistically and in meditation.

“Some artists use glitch not as an artifact but as a medium for conjuring or divining. Knowing that a glitch parasitically uses a system as a conduit for the delivery of unexpected wisdom, they use glitch as a device for divination.”

– Kim Cascone, in Errormancy: Glitch as Divination(1)

Working with this directly in terms of creating cognitively engrossing sonic environments, experimental sound designer Kim Cascone has been developing the concept of ‘subtle listening,’ which he defines as:

“a mode of listening where one’s imagination is open to the sound world around them, helping their inner ear and outer world intersect. ”

Reflecting on a presentation Cascone hosted at Leeds Metropolitan University, sound artist Phil Legard provides more context saying that ‘subtle listening’ focuses on:

“exploring our own reflexive relationships to sound through meditation, listening exercises, drawing, writing and often ‘transcoding’ between these in order to bring participants into a vital relationship with sound ‘in itself’, rather than the more superficial semantic or symbolic qualities that sounds often immediately suggest.”

These kinds of contemplative sound experiments are one of the most immediate ways to engage in deepening our sense of the ‘luminous space’ which surrounds us. Working with them as a listener we are able to enter into states of consciousness which transcend habitual personal constructs and allow us to access the continuity of the phenomenal field which we are immersed in. Working with the sounds themselves as an artist allows for a direct engagement with the ‘material’ of the recording, which gives us room to discover nuances that exist within the aural environment that are hidden by our unconscious listening habits.

Inspired by conversations with Smith and Cascone, I’ve been experimenting with a series of recordings that seek to encapsulate the aetheral environment of north Georgia, where the strange influences of conservative religion, rural living and Hermetic philosophy intertwine to break down our assumptions about the borderline between the real and the imaginal world.

Using field recordings, objects attuned to temporal decay such as chimes from a broken clock, folk instrumentation such as tenor banjo, organ and broken guitars, techniques associated with EVP recording and Instrumental Trans-Communication, I’ve created a series of long-play aural sculptures and atonal radio plays to aid adventurous psychonauts in accessing the concept of contemplative listening.

The source sounds have been stretched, sublimated, dissolved and fixed to disassociate them from ‘superficial semantic or symbolic qualities,’ allowing the ‘ethereal nature of poetic resonances’ to come to the forefront. These pieces provide a ground in which to explore ‘the message’ hidden behind our habitual self image.

The method for using a soundscape (whether natural or artificial) for meditation is simple:

1. Find a quiet place where you will not be interrupted.
2. Position yourself so that you will be able to completely relax without falling asleep.
3. Use headphones, or position your speaker array, so that you are bathed in the sound as you relax your focus and allow your mind to enter into the space created by the soundscape. If you are in a natural environment allow your listening awareness to integrate all of the sounds that surround you without separating them into habitual categories such as ‘artificial’ and ‘natural.’
4. Allow the sounds to merge with spontaneous emotions and imagery in your mind’s eye, and with your actual vision if your eyes are open, as you enter into a unified perceptual field evoked by the intermixing stimulus of all of your senses.
5. Listen to the message contained within the experience.

One of the most exciting elements of the ‘experimental counter-culture’ is working directly within ourselves to explore the interstices where objective and subjective intermix. Your mind is the best laboratory there is, so join me and open yourself to the subtle images and emotive tones that flicker through it.

Click Here and listen to The Message.

(1) http://sonicfield.org/2014/03/errormancy-glitch-as-divination/

The Plot Running Like a Silver Cord: Channeling and Mediumship on the Margins of Literature

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on February 9, 2019

Robert E. Howard at Fort McKavett in 1933. Howard sent a copy of this photograph to H. P. Lovecraft. (Source: Wikipedia)

Let no man read here who lives only in the world about him. To these leaves, let no man stoop to whom Yesterday is as a closed book with iron hasps, to whom Tomorrow is the unborn twin of Today. Here let no man seek the trend of reality, nor any plan or plot running like a silver cord through the fire-limned portraits here envisioned. But I have dreamed as men have dreamed and as my dreams have leaped into my brain full-grown, without beginning and without end, so have I, with gold and sapphire tools, etched them in topaz and opal against a curtain of ivory.

— From the introduction to Etchings in Ivory by Robert E. Howard

While reading Joscelyn Godwin’s Atlantis and the Cycles of Time — regarding which, see this excerpt — I was struck by how familiar I already was with the invoked imagery of Hyperborean civilizations. I’ve never had much of an interest in that realm of speculation, so it was odd that its concepts would be so recognizable, almost palpable, to my mind’s eye. It took me a few days to realize that this was because much of the narrative and imagery had already been put into my consciousness by a youth spent reading the works of Robert E. Howard. As one of the founding writers of the “swords and sorcery” genre, Howard portrayed his Hyperborean heroes Conan, Kull, and Bran Mac Morn all traveling through worlds enlivened by Theosophical and speculative archaeological theories of prehistoric civilizations.

541931The author of a more muscular strain of weird tale than what was written by some of his fellow pulp titans, Howard seems an unlikely host to some of the fae notions of Theosophical cosmology. However, after doing a bit of research I found that his interest in history, which gave his historical fiction an air of reality, was paralleled by an equal interest in the occult. His initial letters to H.P. Lovecraft contain inquiries into the esoteric truths behind the Cthulhu Mythos and imply a seeking curiosity similar to what might be found in a letter sent to the outer representative of a secret occult order.

This really should not come as a shock, since we find Howard writing marginalized fantasy fiction at one of the high points of America’s occult revival. The pulp magazines were one of the prime markets for organizations like the AMORC and the mail order mysticism popularized by publishers such as de Laurence, Scott and Company. And naturally, writing in the genres that he did, Howard found the imagery of Theosophy and the occult provided the raw framework from which to work. Although Conan, Kull and Co. are among the most earthy examples of the swords and sorcery genre, Howard’s cosmic vision sneaks through in stories like “The Tower of the Elephant,” which features a transcendent vision of the cosmos where lines between the celestial, the earthly, and the extra-dimensional blur into a frictious mix.

Jeff Shanks’ article “Theosophy and the Thurian Age: Robert E. Howard and the Works of William Scott-Elliot” (in The Dark Man: The Journal of Robert E. Howard Studies, Vol. 6, Nos. 1 and 2) provides a historical analysis of some specific Theosophical influences that went into framing the landscape of Howard’s work. But it seems to me that one of the more important aspects of this subject, and one that is a bit more ephemeral and subtle to trace than the mere origins of his influences, is the question of how Howard’s writing interacts with the esoteric tradition itself.

These interactions are so prevalent in his work that in many instances he seems to utilize some of the same processes used by Theosophists such as C.W. Leadbetter in hopes of gaining an authentic vision of antediluvian worlds. Howard gives us a surprising opportunity to examine the strange chemistry that occurs when a certain psychology, no matter how seemingly mundane, acts as a catalyst to a potent stream of occult influence. His example also leads out to the realm of other authors who experienced something similar, and eventually to a general insight about the relationship of channeling, mediumship, anomalies, and visionary trance states to the creative imagination.


weirdtalesdecember1936During the heyday of the pulps, what was surfacing in the subliminal atmosphere of the magazines’ advertising pages, where practical engagement with the esoteric was proffered through mail order mysteries, was also percolating in previous encounters between Howard and popular writers such as Arthur Conan Doyle and Jack London, whose work he greatly enjoyed in his youth.

Doyle’s active participation in psychical research, along with his interest in secret societies, suffuses his work even when the traces are not very evident, and London was on hand for the Golden Age of San Francisco, participating in the Eastern steeped occulture of the early Bohemia Club. Another of Howard’s favorite authors, the adventure writer Talbot Mundy, was deeply steeped in Theosophical lore, as well as in direct experiences from a youth spent traveling through North Africa, the Middle East, India, and Tibet. In processing and appropriating these respective influences, Howard was bringing forward a sensibility and set of ideas plugged directly into the mystical and occult.

Whereas science fiction is able to explore the ethical, philosophical, and experiential elements of technological progress, works like Howard’s allow us access to a vision of Plato’s republic in action, where the unseen hand of philosophy, or in this case, sorcery, guides the swords of more material men to change the fate of nations. While this would be developed more deeply, and with more of an eye towards complex critique, in the works of Fritz Leiber, Michael Moorcock, Glenn Lord, and some of the authors who followed Howard’s example, we find in his stories the raw seed, a sort of medieval illustration providing the compositional outline for the more developed visions of later writers.

Beyond the texts themselves, as we feel deeper into the phenomena of Howard’s writing, we find that there is more to his esoteric dalliance than simply repurposing archetypal imagery, for it is apparent that this interest also led to his use of visionary techniques for inducing creativity. In reading through his correspondence, we see him referring quite often to seeing these prehistoric narratives play out before his mind’s eye. As he puts it in the introduction to Etchings in Ivory, “my dreams have leaped into my brain full-grown.” Howard felt that through the use of the creative imagination, he was actually viewing scenes from past lives, and his fragmentary writings, outside of his published work, are written as memories rather than fictional narratives.

As his friend Novalyne Price-Ellis recalled in her memoir One Who Walked Alone (the basis for the Howard biopic The Whole Wide World):

He described the land, the colors of Jenghiz Khan’s robes, the horse he rode. As I listened, I knew what Jenghiz Khan experienced and thought. But I understood as one who plays a part in a play; you study the man … You study the role … You try to understand and experience him; then you try to reveal him to an audience. But in the final analysis, on stage, you create the illusion of reality. Bob was not acting. He was there. At that moment, he was Jenghiz Khan, the barbarian, conqueror of an empire.

It overwhelmed me. “How do you know so much about him — Jenghiz Khan? History books don’t tell you these things. History books don’t describe. They recount.”

“I was there, girl.” Exultantly. “I rode with Jenghiz Khan.”

At first, I didn’t know what to think. Then I reasoned about it. I thought: We must talk about reincarnation someday. I don’t believe it, of course, but we must talk about it. He probably doesn’t believe it either. No wonder a few people in Cross Plains don’t like him. They don’t understand him. His preoccupation with history and with writing instead of the price of corn and cotton is something they could not understand. Could I? I liked to talk about books…History…Writing. Well, this was an opportunity to listen to a very interesting storyteller! Did I want this?

I listened to the saga of Jenghiz Khan.

— Novalyne Price-Ellis, One Who Walked Alone: Robert E. Howard, The Final Years (1986)

Howard never claimed any veracity for these visions, so couched in fiction he brought them forward as questions and misty scenes from the realms outside “the trend of reality,” and his experience of this dissociation took on nearly clairvoyant overtones. These visions formed a part of his critique of the contemporary setting he was writing in. He was very aware of what might be considered the escapist nature of his stories; as quoted by Price-Ellis, he said of his readers that

the people who read my stuff want to get away from this modern, complicated world with its hypocrisy, its cruelty, its dog-eat-dog life. They want to go back to the origin of the human race. The civilization we live in is a hell of a lot more sinister than the time I write about. In those days, girl, men were men and women were women. They struggled to stay alive, but the struggle was worth it.

Importantly, I am in no way implying that Howard sat down in an active, ritualized way to invoke these visionary states. Instead, whether through suffusion of influences or simply the circumstance of feeling bored and trapped by the complexity of contemporary life, he was able to tap into the same vein of experience that, when framed differently, appears as mystical accounts. Godwin, in his work on Atlantis, details the numerous clairvoyant “visions” of antediluvian worlds that have been proffered throughout history, showing how they possess a social and personal efficacy that often belies their veracity in light of any orthodox historical narrative.


“Fie, fie! you visionary things, ye motes that dance in sunny glow, who base and build Eternities on briefest moment here below…”

– Richard F. Burton, The Kasidah, III 1-4

To draw wider lessons that can be applied to the fusion of creativity and mystical matters, we need to ask two questions of all this: How does the case of Robert E. Howard lead us to understand the act of writing effective short stories or performing any other creative artistic work? And what, generally, is happening in trance-based methods of acquiring information?


Sir Richard Francis Burton (March 19, 1821 – October 20, 1890)

Starting again from Howard himself, another example from his correspondence shows how these processes can even slip beneath the notice of those who experience them. After harshly dismissing Sir Richard Francis Burton’s poem The Kasidah in a letter to a friend, Howard later reflected, “Maybe I was too rough on the author of The Kasidah. That is a really great poem even though it does merely (as far as I’ve read) uphold and expound facts I reasoned out for myself years ago.” What, we might ask, were these facts?

Burton’s poem sought to express what he had discovered regarding the philosophy of the Sufis he encountered on his travels through the Middle East and North Africa during the 19th century. If we look at Howard’s response, we see that he doesn’t give any preference to Burton, but refers to him simply as “the author” and claims that whatever Burton tried to express in that poem is something that he himself “reasoned out…years ago.” This seems a typical response from a Texan unimpressed with social niceties and eager to get down to the matter at hand.

And while I would not suggest that Howard was a Sufi adept, his professed familiarity with the ideas in The Kasidah shows that his meditative practice, even if haphazard and occurring by nature rather than active discipline, had given him a sense of reality that enabled him to dialogue with a line of mystical philosophy that was carefully developed over centuries of more active engagement.

84d291c1264a9f5957ba3be6f5a9ff30We find a similar situation in author and occultist Kenneth Grant’s infamous claim that the work of H.P. Lovecraft represents an unconscious communication with extra-dimensional entities or forces. Much of the occult tradition that Grant worked within is based on the development of visualization techniques and meditative states that enhance the interaction between the practitioner and these forces through the medium of the art.

In the case of Lovecraft, Grant suggests that, through his attentive relationship with his dream life, Lovecraft was unknowingly transmitting visions of a reality that lies behind the visible order. Many have looked askance at the idea that someone like Lovecraft, with his well-documented atheism and total rejection of the supernatural, could be a naive psychic medium. However, such criticism presumes a transcendental explanation for the inner interaction in question, and ignores the fact that what Grant is suggesting is based on purely practical concerns.

The quaint notion of an “occult science” is based on the nature of magical practice, which suggests that to achieve certain results, certain actions need to be taken. If the proper action is taken, then the practitioner is assured results, just as in chemistry we know that the interaction of properly measured solutions will achieve repeatable reactions. Disagreements and arguments come in when we start trying to hash out what exactly these results mean — an issue that properly forms the work of more advanced practitioners who are experiencing the states in question, and that becomes somewhat useless when approached from the outside.

It is important to understand that what sits at the core of any anomalous phenomenon is, very simply, an experience, and that such experiences are codified through cultural discourse to bring out some kind of linear meaning within the surrounding social narrative. The act of cultivating these experiences is the core of what Grant is talking about, and is in fact exactly what Lovecraft did with his dream life, even if the ontological status of the results he obtained remains a matter of disagreement among commentators.

If we look at what Lovecraft actually wrote, it becomes apparent that the wonderful uniqueness of his work is in large part predicated on his dream practice. Even when we factor in the knowledge that he was deeply influenced by a number of other writers, this still doesn’t yield a definitive answer to the ontological question, because most of these major influences, including Arthur Machen, Edgar Allan Poe, Algernon Blackwood, and Lord Dunsany, were themselves either working with trance states, involved in an occult order, involved in 19th-century Freemasonry, or some combination of all three.

Scholars such as Jeffrey Kripal and Patrick Harpur have demonstrated the critical potency of stepping back for a moment and considering these obfuscated areas of human consciousness with sympathy. Consider, for example, the case of orbs and the various interpretations to which they have been subjected. On a very simplistic level, an orb in your house “is” a ghost. An orb in the forest “is” an elemental, fairy, or Will o’ Wisp. And an orb in the sky “is” a UFO. But is there really any difference in the phenomenon itself? Or are these differences merely narrative devices that have grown out of a heavily mediated understanding of the event?

One of the most fascinating factors in an area like — for instance — UFOlogy is seeing how so many divergent phenomena can become enmeshed in a single cultural event. Natural occurrences, military tests, pranks, mistaken identification, and truly anomalous events all intermix as elements in a complex and ever-developing story.

Importantly, this ambiguity goes beyond phenomena like UFOs, which ostensibly have some type of objective/external existence, to encompass more inward states as well. What is the difference between visualization techniques used by authors and artists and the visualization techniques used by someone trained in remote viewing?

During some formal remote viewing tests, there have been instances where the viewers claim to be able to see events on Mars, or to see other off-world events. Can this be separated from the work of an author like, say, William S. Burroughs, who remarked that the best writers are merely observers of an internal film, and that the more successful are those who are better able to capture and express in words the narrative structure of what they see?

When we go back and read accounts of mediumship from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, we sometimes find striking similarities with the science fiction of the time. For instance, in From India to the Planet Mars, Théodore Flournoy’s enormously popular and influential study of the psychic Helene Smith, Flournoy actually makes a point of this by emphasizing that many of Smith’s channeled ideas seem to have emerged from speculative scientific writing on the nature of alien worlds:

While, on the whole, therefore, it is probable that its roots extend back as far as the childhood of Mlle. Smith, it is nevertheless with the Martian romance, as well as with the others, not a mere question of the simple cryptomnesiac return of facts of a remote past, or of an exhumation of fossil residua brought to light again by the aid of somnambulism. It is a very active process, and one in full course of evolution, nourished, undoubtedly, by elements belonging to the past, but which have been recombined and moulded in a very original fashion, until it amounts finally, among other things, to the creation of an unknown language.

It will be interesting to follow step by step the phases of this elaboration: but since it always, unfortunately, hides itself in the obscurity of the subconsciousness, we are only cognizant of it by its occasional appearances, and all the rest of that subterranean work must be inferred, in a manner somewhat hypothetical, from those supraliminal eruptions and the scanty data which we have concerning the outward influences which have exerted a stimulating influence upon the subliminal part of Hélène.

— Theodore Flournoy, From India to the Planet Mars (1900), Trans. Daniel B. Vermilye


Martian Landscape by Helene Smith (Catherine-Elise Müller)

Smith, according to Flournoy, was viewing narratives played out in her mind that were shaped by her reading, but that were brought alive by her unconscious emotional and mental activity. In other words, her visionary states were filtered through her social narrative.

This is something that leads us beyond the domain of critical theory or even phenomenological concerns over the interaction of anomaly and fiction, and into an area of practical application that needs to be considered if we are to explore the meaning of the phenomena in question. It may also help us to understand in some way what divides effective from ineffective speculative fiction.

The difference between the errant psychic medium and the established author is the latter’s ability to maintain a socially acceptable narrative for his or her own life. It is the ability to control the inner visionary process, or at least an awareness (whether partly or fully conscious) of its basic nature, that allows such people to maintain a stable personality while tapping into the same forces that turn someone like Helene Smith into a curiosity of science.


To understand just how deep the connection really is between what we call psychism and what we call artistry, it is important to understand why the word “medium” is used in psychical research. We often think of anomalous experiences in terms of their relationship to individual identity, but the term “medium” is used very specifically to describe a person’s relationship with the phenomena of channeling. A medium is so-called because he or she is one through whom “channeled” information or entities are realized in the material world. Whether we talk about psychics claiming to channel messages from the dead and visions of ancient worlds or authors channeling inspiration into written stories, we are talking about a relationship between an amorphous, immaterial vision and its realization in materiaby a human agent. Again, an awareness of the process, and a kind of distance from it, and some minimal level of irony directed at the vision’s claim to objective truth, is what aids in separating the artist from the medium.

This is also where we come up against the question of marginality. Although someone like Algernon Blackwood could couch his experiences as a metaphysical explorer in the guise of fiction, he was writing from a place firmly entrenched in the establishment, where eccentricity is mitigated by family standing and wealth. Most psychic mediums are not so fortunate. Most authors are not so fortunate, either, and so the “pulp” narrative emerges to express these experiences in the sphere of the general public, where critical reception is not based on abstract metrics.

The raw emotional undertones of existence are rarely concealed in pulp fiction. They break forth unbidden, often against the controls of genre constraint. Establishment novelists are marked by their staid prose and formulaic attention to structure. Heavily schooled, they employ a writing technique that sits on the surface, barely concealed by brief flights of inspiration.

Even at its best, establishment literature has the sense of something dead. Those who break this mold often find themselves inhabiting the margins, or else they experience their breakthroughs when faced with losing their social standing.

Statistics show that while belief in the paranormal is equally distributed across society, experience of the paranormal (at least as reported during surveys) has a higher percentage of occurrence in marginalized groups. So where better to look than to marginalized literature to find a much less hidden use of mediumship in the creative process?

To return to the author with whom we started, the alienation of Robert E. Howard is obvious. In a letter to a friend relating his first publishing experience, he wrote:

I one day got the advance pages of Wolfshead, which was about to be published. Reading it over I was so depressed and discouraged that I went and got a job jerking soda in a drug-store.

Such marginalization provides the impetus to step further inward instead of seeking some relief in the outside world. Rather than try to work toward some material success, Howard went for a job with the least possible amount of outward responsibility, which therefore allowed time for daydreaming and focusing on the mental realms in which he found a more favorable atmosphere. In the process, he gained access to the same type of anomalous perceptions of the inner world that any occultist would encounter while pursuing the same journey through the mind’s eye.

In regarding these areas of experience as “supernatural,” we miss how mundane the process actually is. One of the greatest American metaphysical philosophers, Manly P. Hall, did little more than Howard in terms of following a formal meditative practice. Ronnie Pontiac, who knew Hall intimately, writes in a recent piece for Newtopia Magazine that those seeking some deep esoteric secret behind Hall’s prolific influence were often sorely disappointed:

Hoping for exotic revelations, some have asked me what his practice was, or did I receive from him any esoteric techniques. He approved of my twice a day meditation regime but with a hint of good-humored contempt so I asked him about his own meditation practice. He told me that the studying and writing he did each day, his work on the PRS journal, and several book manuscripts at once, and his meetings with visitors were a constant meditation. He talked to me about Zen and the kinhin, the walking meditation, but he used it as a metaphor, explaining that choosing your daily activity carefully is the key to a life of meditation, yet any activity would do. He also recommended the Pythagorean recollection. When ready to fall asleep the day is pondered in reverse, starting with the most recent action, working back to the first experience upon waking, with an eye to improvement.

— Ronnie Pontiac, “The Maestro and the Boy: The Kindness of Manly P. Hall,” Newtopia Magazine, December 15, 2012

If we consider the fact that the line between psychic medium and talented creative is very thin, and perhaps non-existent, then we can see how Kenneth Grant’s statement about Lovecraft’s mediumship might not be so far off. It’s not that Lovecraft was necessarily a medium, but that to him lucid dreaming and visionary states were perfectly normal. The word “supernatural” didn’t fit into his narrative.

Similarly, we find Robert E. Howard, whose work is far less mystically inclined than Lovecraft’s, accessing a far more active visionary practice without the same atheistic restraints. His work is so steeped in its influences that, years after having read it, when faced with Joscelyn Godwin’s exposition of Atlantean mythology, the pictures I found called to my mind were provided in part by Howard’s writing.

That which we call psychism in one realm of discourse is simply subsumed under the mantle of creativity in another, and rarely do we stop to look at how closely the two are related, and how strange visions can creep into even the most material mind.

Note: This version originally published at The Teeming Brain (2013)

Cyborgs, Psychics and Intelligent Plasmas – Speculative approaches to human space travel with Jose Canseco

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on February 3, 2019

“Aliens have been trying to teach us how to time travel but first we have to change our body composition which we are not willing to do we have tried animals and it has failed…Our science is totally irrelevant to aliens” – Jose Canseco on Twitter (1)

On January 30th, 2019 six-time All Star former Major League Baseball player Jose Canseco took to Twitter with a series of posts discussing time travel, alien subtle bodies, and the future evolution of the human species as it relates to space travel.

Screen Shot 2019-01-31 at 5.07.04 PMI admit that this is an odd follow up to the preceding posts he put up on the same day promoting  Brute’s LUX series of custom golf drivers and it probably falls well outside his Major League prowess to tackle the issue of the migration of the human species into space. If you have questions, his follow up tweets offer a chance to hit the golf course with him and pick his brain on aliens and time travel – or if you want to sit that one out simply read on and we’ll  journey through a few of the weirder roads that have paralleled the space race and maybe we can illuminate the questions.

It’s easy to be dismissive, especially with tweets about aliens teaching us time travel, and the very real possibility that Canseco was trying to stir viral attention for his golf promotions, but for the moment why don’t we take a different track and rather than dismissing his curious statements let’s do a thought experiment and explore some of the avenues that he indicates in his tweets – we’ll quickly find that they lead down interesting paths of speculation if we let them and they can help us to consider the magnitude of our culture’s current quest for space travel.

For many of us the day to day seems tough enough without thinking about breaking the boundaries of earth’s atmosphere, but as Abraham Loeb, chair of astronomy at Harvard University , said in a recent article for Scientific American:

“There is no doubt that we will ultimately be forced to relocate as a result of a major catastrophe on Earth, such as the sun boiling off the oceans in less than a billion years, a giant asteroid impact within hundreds of millions of years, a technologically-inflicted climate change within thousands of years or a global nuclear war within tens or hundreds of years. The only uncertainty is the timescale over which such a migration will be forced upon us.”(2)

Future planning puts space travel in a primary spot on humanity’s to-do list, but before we get too excited let’s reacquaint ourselves with the harsh reality of space – take out the aliens in the tweets from Jose Canseco and we can see that he is essentially discussing the simple fact that the human body has a hard time adapting to high terrestrial altitudes and most certainly cannot endure the conditions we find in space. Going further we can add that the human body can’t endure prolonged exposure within an environmentally controlled craft while protected by the heliosphere of our sun – once we get beyond that we have very little idea what will happen to the human body or how fast it will happen and it doesn’t seem likely to get any better than the zero chances for long term survival we see closer to earth.

As NASA clearly outlines in a PR piece titled – The Human Body in Space:

“Space is a dangerous, unfriendly place.  Isolated from family and friends, exposed to radiation that could increase your lifetime risk for cancer, a diet high in freeze-dried food, required daily exercise to keep your muscles and bones from deteriorating, a carefully scripted high-tempo work schedule, and confinement with three co-workers picked to travel with you by your boss.” (3)

Straight from the horses mouth – space is not a happy place for humans. So what’s a space hungry homo-sapien to do with the odds being set against our free wheeling leap into the celestial spheres?

The 6 Million Dollar Man


“Time travel puts 42, 651 pounds of pressure on a human skeletal structure…can you detach the brain from the body and equalize the pressure it could be done.”  – Jose Canseco on Twitter

Canseco is talking time-travel, but solving the problems of bodily stress in space alone is a no less daunting task – radiation exposure, oxygen deprivation, extreme temperatures, bone loss, changes in gene expression, and more all stand against humanities climb to the stars – one solution popularized during the early days of space exploration was advanced cybernetic development to integrate the human body/mind with machines in the hopes of enhancing its adaptability in space. Sci-Fi fans familiar with the television series The Six Million Dollar Man will recognize one of the most popular examples of marketing this approach to the public.

The series was based on Cyborg, a pulp novel from 1973 by sci-fi writer and aerospace expert Martin Caidin*. In the novel Caidin weaves the story of Lt. Col. Steve Austin, a test pilot who ended up on the wrong end of a crashed plane and became the subject of a top-secret interagency project to blend man and machine:

Steve Austin is a superhero in the television series – in the novel it’s a bit more complicated:

“He was a wonder of scientific perfection– but it was lonely as hell at the top. All the resources of NASA, the Pentagon, and Government Money put the pieces of Lt. Col. Steve Austin’s shattered body back together again. He came out of it more perfect than human. Better than new. A deadly, unstoppable weapon. Now all he needed was to find some human emotion in the tangle of plastic, wire and atomic metal that was fused to the remains of his flesh.” (4)

Before we look at some of the science behind this idea check out how it gets framed in the media. Compare the first edition cover from Caidin’s book and the cover from the edition released to coincide with the television series and we see a drastic change in framing:







What is clearly a sci-fi allegory and example of speculative fiction warning about technological overreach (notice on the 1st edition the novel is compared to The Andromeda Strain and Terminal Man) becomes a muscled up promotional piece for cybernetic warriors once the broader popular market gets involved.

Another TV tie-in edition even has a bold evolution inspired promo line implying that the ‘Cyborg’ is a new breed of human:

“They had taken the wreck of a man and bionically created a superior being – a superman who might even be the first of a whole new breed!”

It’s difficult to blame the folks who really thought this was a solution to our survival problem in space and wanted to promote cyborg astronauts to the public. When you start reading the technical papers and popular science pieces that were coming out in relation to the actual science and medical procedures involved in melding human bodies with machine parts it’s a rather gruesome affair. Just consider the fact that this was the mid-20th century when computers were still the size of a filing cabinet or larger and we’d yet to discover nano-technology…and they wanted to merge that with the human organism.  ‘Nuff said.

Artifact-Organism Systems

“…we have to change our body composition which we are not willing to do we have tried animals and it has failed…”

CVQeTnvWEAAryeZ.png-largeDuring the mid-late 20th century, it seemed feasible that “altering man’s bodily functions to meet the requirements of extraterrestrial environments would be more logical than providing an earthly environment for him in space . . . Artifact-organism systems which would extend man’s unconscious, self-regulatory controls are one possibility.” (5) These alterations were seen within the context of evolution and as the inevitable next step in the development of humanity beyond our current state of existence.

As Manfred E. Clynes and Nathan S. Kline, from Rockland State Hospital, put it in an article published in the September, 1960 issue of Astronautics:

“Space travel challenges mankind not only technologically but also spiritually, in that it invites man to take an active part in his own biological evolution. Scientific advances of the future may thus be utilized to permit man’s existence in environments which differ radically from those provided by nature as we know it.

The task of adapting man’s body to any environment he may choose will be made easier by increased knowledge of homeo- static functioning, the cybernetic aspects of which are just begin- ning to be understood and investigated. In the past evolution brought about the altering of bodily functions to suit different environments. Starting as of now, it will be possible to achieve this to some degree without alteration of heredity by suitable bio- chemical, physiological, and electronic modifications of man’s existing modus vivendi.” (5)

They go on further to describe the requirement for these mechanical adaptations to operate seamlessly with the existing biological functions of the organism –  or the human artifact – ie. the person being grafted into a machine:

“What are some of the devices necessary for creating self-regulating man-machine systems? This self- regulation must function without the benefit of consciousness in order to cooperate with the body’s own autonomous homeostatic controls. For the exogenously extended organizational complex functioning as an integrated homeostatic system unconsciously, we propose the term “Cyborg.” The Cyborg deliberately incorporates exogenous components extending the self-regulatory control function of the organism in order to adapt it to new environments.”(5)

All well and good until the human body says no – it’s hard enough to get an organ transplant to take, let alone a piece of metal or electronics. The reality of going from a speculative cybernetic ideal to real life application in living organisms put the whole cyborg thing on hold as our technological and bio-medical understanding advanced to meet up with our high sighted goals. Today we are much closer to having limited capabilities in this area – but nowhere near what it would take to develop a human-machine interface that could withstand the deadly atmosphere of space travel without the addition of an artificial environment.

Inner Space Astronautics


Earthrise – On December 24, 1968, Apollo 8 astronauts Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders became the first humans to witness the Earth rising above the moon’s barren surface. (Photo/Caption: NASA)

“…the brain can physically travel without the body…” 

While science continued developing the possibilities of physical augmentation, other methods were theorized that flipped the view from outer adjustments to inner ones.

Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell in his introduction to the 1975 anthology, Psychic Explorations: A Challenge for Science, in a chapter titled From Outer Space to Inner Space, defines the ideological impetus for noetic and transpersonal research into space travel when he says that we must “promote the process of metanoia, or a new awakening in which mankind can realize its self-produced dilemma and, through a change of awareness and an expansion of individual responsibility, reestablish the unity of man with man and with the environment,” because, “only when man moves from his ego-centered self-image to a new image of universal man will the perennial problems that plague us be susceptible of resolution. Humanity must rise from man to mankind, from the personal to the transpersonal, from self-consciousness to cosmic consciousness.” (6) During Mitchell’s experience on the moon he had a profound vision of the earth hanging in space that catalyzed a drastic change in his perspective  – as he told People magazine in 1974, “you develop an instant global consciousness, a people orientation, an intense dissatisfaction with the state of the world, and a compulsion to do something about it. From out there on the moon, international politics look so petty.” (7) Viewing the earth from far beyond the boundaries of its atmosphere opened up a new vision of a unified humanity – a humanity capable and worthy to expand beyond the bounds of terra firma and into the mystery of the star swept depths of space.

This shift in perspective, both literal and mythopoetic, provided new ground upon which to understand humanity as a global organism, a biological system whose individual members made up a greater whole. We have to remember that during the Apollo 14 mission, Mitchell was also conducting a personal experiment in psychic functioning. As detailed in People magazine, “without NASA’s knowledge he had set up an experiment in extrasensory perception to be conducted during the mission with four men back on earth. The test involved the men on earth guessing the correct order of certain standard symbols as Mitchell “sent” them from space by telepathy and it was later judged to be a moderate success.

At any rate, in Mitchell’s new resolution, such psi techniques could include ESP, clairvoyance, telepathy and psychokinesis (the use of psychic energy to bring about physical changes, like bending forks with well aimed thinking). All these and more could be employed in the quest for greater realization of the power of the human mind. For this commendable purpose the Institute of Noetic Sciences (Mitchell coined the term “Noetic” from the Greek word for mind) was eventually founded, on a nonprofit basis.”(7)

-Audio BobIONS wasn’t the only organization that was moving in this direction. Robert Monroe, a cable executive from Virginia, had a similar vision of a greater humanity open up to him as he learned to travel within his mind and experiment with sound induced out-of-body experiences. In 1971 he published his seminal work, Journeys Out of Body, which collected his observations on his personal experiments and quickly lead to the development of a more formal organization for his program of exploration – as can be seen from his introduction to the 1977 edition where he celebrates the news that:

“a research facility was formed and became active in 1972. Our work has attracted the interest and co-operation of physicists, psychologists, biochemists, engineers, educators, psychiatrists, corporate presidents, statisticians, many of whom serve on our board of advisers.”

He also outlines how the book served as a tool for normalizing the idea that our conscious selves are not necessarily bound by the body.  “Among the eleven thousand plus pieces of mail received to date, many sighs of relief were reported. The secret could be talked about without the need for sanity hearings. Thus the book is serving its primary purpose.”

At the research facility he mentions that, “over seven hundred persons have participated in our research and experimental training program. Our first Explorer Team has six members. Some fifty more are waiting for our facility to handle their final indoctrination, and their number is growing daily. We hope to be able to expand shortly in physical space, equipment, and personnel so that we can absorb the backlog and the increase. This year, training programs at the Institute may qualify for credit at the college and university level.” (8)

The Monroe Institute, along with the Institute of Noetic Sciences founded by Edgar Mitchell, have played a vital role in organizing and managing the scientific investigation into humanity’s extended capacities and both organizations have been formative in evolving our perception of ourselves as more than the limits of our body. Further on in his 1977 update, Monroe celebrates this, saying:

“Our Explorer Team of six is bringing back data faster than we can process it, far more rapidly and diverse than I alone could accumulate. That which we have sorted is overwhelming in its import. The fact of consensus and agreement from six different explorers-each unaware of the other’s experiences except in joint operations-has had a formidable impact upon those who have examined the material. The details will be reported in another book which is in preparation.”*

This intensive data gathering was seen within the framework of an expanded awareness burgeoning on a global scale in which Monroe and his colleagues played their part. We see this evolutionary focus as Monroe reflects on, “A lot of action to pack into four years. It only strengthens the concept of accelerated change at work-especially the change in human needs.” This accelerated change has not stopped and today we can look back on how useful the tools of inner astronautics and psychical research are for adapting to the changes wrought by the cybernetic potentials of the inter web and our advances in genetics, bio-technology, mass communication, machine learning, climate change and so many other areas where a unified humanity is necessary to ensure our survival.

The Purpose of Dreams is to Prepare Us for Space

While IONS and the Monroe Institute represent organizations that were pursuing space travel through the realms of inner space, these ideas were also being developed by individual artists and researchers. One of the most dedicated being the American counter culture’s infamous Invisible Man, William S. Burroughs, whose entire corpus of work is based on using the techniques of inner space for outer space travel.

“We postulate that man is an artifact designed for space travel. He is not designed to remain in his present biologic state any more than a tadpole is designed to remain a tadpole. This postulate, agreed upon, gives us a standard evaluation. Is a proposed course of action conducive to realizing space conditions? Art, science, technology, what is it contributing to the space program? As for individuals, ask yourself – would I like to be in space with that person? Postulate that there is no privacy and no deceit possible in space: Your innermost thoughts, feelings and intentions are immediately apparent to those around you. So you want to be careful who is around you.”(9)

In this quote from his essay Civilian Defense, Burroughs is basically saying the same things as the NASA PR piece and mirrors the language in Clynes and Klines famous article on Cyborgs in Aeronautics right down to the evolutionary script – he always did make a point of reading the literature. Yet when he talks about the personality conflicts there’s that bit of added psychic context we need to consider – he’s not talking about being crammed in a box with bad neighbors, he’s saying that by the time we make it into space, if we make it into space, we will be a fully psychic species and may not even have physical bodies in the way we think of now. When he says, “your innermost thoughts, feelings and intentions are immediately apparent to those around you,” he really means it!


William S. Burroughs (Bunker, New York), May 1981. Foto: © Ulrich Hillebrand (kultur-online.net)

He further outlines his speculations on esoteric astronautics in a talk that he presented in 1980 at Naropa University, saying “I think that the purpose of dreams is to prepare us for space and this is why they are a biological necessity. Whether the dream body is able to exist separately from the physical one, that is something that needs to be studied”(10)

Burroughs also helps us to put Canseco’s time travel in relation to our journey into space:

“A Russian scientist has said that we will travel, not only in space, but in time as well, that is, to travel in space is to travel in time, and if writers are to travel in space-time and explore the areas opened by the space age, I think they must develop techniques quite as new and definite as the technique of physical space travel.” (11)

In all of this Burroughs is explicit about his vision for a bodiless evolution of the human species – in one of his most famous routines, The Last Words of Hassan i Sabbah from his novel Nova Express, he states:

“The” word of Alien Enemy imprisons “thee” in Time. In Body. In Shit. Prisoner, come out. “

Every element in this particular routine is directed as a critique against the system of Control that he saw as the inevitable driving force behind the illusory world designed by “board syndicates and governments of the earth,” who he labels as “Collaborators with Insect People with Vegetable People. With any people anywhere you offer you a body forever. To shit forever,” saying that “For this you have sold out your sons. Sold the ground from unborn feet forever. Traitors to all souls everywhere.” Here we see him identifying two forms of people that are against freedom – Insect People, or those functioning within a hive-mind system that lacks all individual personality, and Vegetable People, those existing in a system that is wholly focused on the body and bodily functions. These are ‘traitors to all souls everywhere’ and it is this elevation of the soul over the body which gives us a key to what he elsewhere explains in terms of lucid dreaming or psychic bodies. It also gives us our stepping stone to begin looking at what our future selves might look like.

Visitors at a Cabin in the Woods

“..these aliens are going to teach us how to try and travel…”

01486-1ioznbzhk6skk-xmv_ivjsaOn December 26th, 1985 something happened to the novelist Whitley Strieber that changed the way the world looked at the notion of ‘alien life forms’ – Strieber experienced transformative contact with the unknown, leading to the publication of his groundbreaking book Communion: A True Story in 1987. With this book the public was given a delicate, personal exploration of a contact experience that broke down the boundaries between inner and outer, past and future, perception and memory – we were given an initiation into communion with non-human intelligences that seemed to stretch our conceptual framework to the very limits.

” I have never seen an unidentified flying object. I thought that the whole subject had been explained by science. It took me a couple of months to establish the connection between what had happened to me and possible nonhuman visitors, so unlikely did such a connection seem. In the middle of the night of December 26 — 1 do not know the exact time — I abruptly found myself awake. And I knew why: I heard a peculiar whooshing, swirling noise coming from the living room downstairs.” (12)

Communion is a challenging work, written not to answer questions, but to reframe them in light of Strieber’s experience of contact with an intelligence or intelligences that seemed to exist within the shadows of his daily life and within the hidden pathways of his mind. Although it was quickly shoehorned into the mediated category of ‘alien abduction,’ the complex nature of the experiences introduced in Communion, and further fleshed out in later works, is closer to contact experiences described in religious histories from around the world.

As the scholar of religion Jeffrey Kripal explains:

“If I hear and read him correctly (and I am reading the written tradition off the oral one), what Whitley is proposing is his total body of work is the real presence of intelligent light forms or conscious plasmas in our shared cosmic environment, their long historical interactions with human beings, and their subsequent very real effects on human civilization, particularly through story and symbol, or what historians of religions call ‘myth’. He possesses no certainty about the source or nature of the lights and energies. He has learned instead to focus on their practical and spiritual effects on individual human beings and communities…

…His conception of human nature overflows any ordinary secular notions. He thus thinks of a human being as an ‘incredible inter-dimensional entity’ and suspects that what we normally think of as a person is only one form of human being.” (13)

This expansion of the human being requires an inner development that is just as radical as the development of the cyborg in terms of reconfiguring the human biological organism. However this expansion seems to entail an inner work that might be seen as a natural extension of human evolution, more easily than one could imagine that the natural order is leading us to surgical augmentation and strange acts of experimental butchery.

Reimagining of the human as an ‘incredible inter-dimensional entity’ also brings us back to long standing traditions of esoteric spirituality, providing a historical continuity that is more firm than those offered by the vivisectionists. While it’s unlikely that Jose Canseco had this in mind with his tweets – the underlying resonance with a very real conversation going on around these topics gives us the opportunity to explore areas that we would not normally look at in terms of space travel. In the book Light Changes: Experiences in the Presence of Transforming Light, Annekatrin Puhle Ph.D. points out that “experiences with unusual light confront us with the old pantheistic idea that spirits live everywhere, in everything and in every being in the world. In the past, according to magical thinking, ‘things’ were not dead, but alive and even able to act. The whole world was believed to have been filled with life-spirits. Humans, besides the physical body, possessed another mostly invisible body of a spiritual nature.” (14) Again and again we are confronted with a physical concept the soul and an expanded idea of what it means to be human – could it be here that the answer to humanities potential future in space ultimately lies?

What Strieber and the other inner space astronauts present is a scientifically pursued esoteric spiritual practice that mirrors the highest practices of ancient religions. Some would say that this is simply an atavism best left to the historical record – but there is evidence that this might not be the case.

UFOs and Intelligent Plasmas

“We are in communication with aliens with a very flexible body composition…”

One of the most difficult elements of Whitley Strieber’s experiential narrative is the fact that it flies in the face of the so-called ‘nuts and bolts’ hypothesis for contact with non-human intelligence. Although there are instances that seem to indicate some sort of physical craft – like so many experiencer reports these occasions fit within a wider experiential set that blurs the lines between inner and outer experience making it difficult to shoehorn them into any easy categorization.

It might surprise many readers that this ambiguity is also found in nearly all of the attempts to scientifically examine the UFO issue. There have been a number of serious scientific attempts to directly engage with the phenomenon and each of them has come up against the curious fact that while some of the data indicates a physical craft may be involved, what is far more common is an encounter with what appears to be psychoactive and self contained instances of electromagnetically activated ionized gases – or intelligent plasmas!

Take for example the research conducted by Harley D. Rutledge, former head of the physics department of Southeast Missouri State University:

51b5S3ZBsuL._SX340_BO1,204,203,200_“While he was generally noncommittal on the nature of the UFOs his team recorded, (Harley) Rutledge did relate that the discs and lights observed in the daylight by the teams were obviously plasmas. In his summary he wrote, “The plasma balls seen in daylight certainly suggest remote control.”

Perhaps the oddest finding of all was that everyone on the research team was convinced that the objects responded to being observed. The project cites 32 cases where the UFOs directly responded to the ground station observers. Rutledge and his team concluded that the objects were aware of their presence and would interact with them, sometimes seemingly toying with them.

As the project began to wind down, Rutledge noted in later interviews that some balls of plasma, 2-6 inches in diameter, would actually follow him around and even appear inside buildings. He found, as do many people who become intrigued by the UFO phenomenon, that the deeper you go into it, strange things begin happening.” (15)

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Spartanburg Herald-Journal – Nov 23, 1977 (16)

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The Milwaukee Journal – Dec 28, 1973 (16)

A similar long term research project conducted in Hessdalen, Norway also points to the possibility of UFOs as some kind of unique plasma phenomenon:

“Hessdalen lights (HL) are unexplained light balls usually seen in the valley of Hessdalen, Norway. In this work, it is suggested that HL are formed by a cluster of macroscopic Coulomb crystals in a plasma produced by the ionization of air and dust by alpha particles during radon decay in the dusty atmosphere. Several physical properties (oscillation, geometric structure, and light spectrum) observed in HL phenomenon can be explained through the dust plasma model.”(16)

Italian astrophysicist Massimo Teodorani, who has actively worked with the Hessdalen Light phenomenon, expands on this through a speculative analysis in his book The Hyperspace of Consciousness where he discusses the possibility that this kind of coordinated plasma phenomenon could lead to intelligent or conscious plasmas, saying that:

“…it might be possible to hypothesize that if really plasmas too are able to become in certain conditions real Life forms, then a part of them might evolve towards forms of intelligence that is more or less sophisticated. The consequences of such an hypothesis would be really disruptive, because then for any life form (even intelligent) based on plasma a planetary atmosphere would be an almost irrelevant prerequisite to make them live, as there should be no need of a “habitability zone” for as we have conceived it until now in the ambit of canonical projects such as, in particular, the SETI Project. According to this scenario Life forms based on plasma might truly live everywhere in the Universe. If this were effectively the case all the planets of the solar system – even those with the most poisonous atmospheres – might indifferently harbor life forms of this kind. As it happens on the Earth the trigger – we could denominate it as a “midwife” – for the birth of such plasma forms starts from natural mechanisms due to the geophysical conditions of the soil or underground, to atmospheric mechanisms or to both.” (18) 

While we need to be clear that this is a speculative hypothesis, it certainly fits with experiencer narratives such as Whitley Strieber’s and others, and more so it fits with some of the developments we are seeing in attempts to outline the physics of information. By looking at both the theoretical work in this area along with more detailed analysis of the research conducted at Hessdalen and within Harley Rutledge’s work on Project Identification we may discover an entirely new way of looking at what it means to be human and more so what it means to be alive.

Those familiar with Dr. Diana Pasulka’s book American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology (Oxford University Press, 2019) will know that there is much more to this question – as she outlines additional research into alleged ‘UFO materials’ that complicates a simple reading of the phenomenon as psycho-active plasmas. These complications are a reason for celebration, however, as they help us to maintain the mystery that has lead us as a species through an incredible course of development. Our quest to understand our place in the universe – and more recently our quest to expand our domains into space challenge us to stretch our boundaries beyond simple binaries like physical and non-physical and into more holistic realms of investigation.

Physicist Paul Davies speaks to these possibilities in a recent Guardian article on his upcoming book,  The Demon in the Machine. As he puts it, “when you look at a living system, the way information is managed is very far from random. It will show patterns that could lead us to a definition of life. We talk about informational hallmarks and these might be used to identify life wherever we look for it in the universe.” (19) Is it possible that a deeper analysis of the UFO enigma could play a part in our understanding of this? From the implications we seen in the data related to psycho-active plasmas there is a very real chance this may be the case!

Our Science is Totally Irrelevant to Aliens

“The only people on Earth who might begin to understand an ‘alien‘ mentality would be those who distance themselves as much as possible from the realm of ‘human’ action, the better to see alternative perspectives.” – Peter Levenda, Sekret Machines: Gods – An official Sekret Machines investigation of the UFO phenomenon, p. 342 (To the Stars, Inc., 2016)

Jose Canseco’s alien non-sequiturs on Twitter provide a wonderful opportunity for us to take a very cursory and surface level look at a few interesting angles in the contemporary history of space travel. As I read over this piece there is so much more that could be said, so many other explorers, scientists and creatives who have in their own small way contributed to this process.

As we move further into the 21st century and become more comfortable stepping beyond our artificial and self-defined limitations we may finally come to a science and a spirituality that allow us some relevance to these hypothetical aliens. Aliens that in many ways may represent something far more human than we can conceive in our present state of awareness.


(1) https://twitter.com/JoseCanseco
(2) Abraham Loeb, Our Future in Space Will Echo Our Future on Earth, Scientific American, January 30th, 2019
(3) https://www.nasa.gov/hrp/bodyinspace
(4) Back cover synopsis, Cyborg: A Novel by Martin Caidin  (W.H. Allen, 1973)
(5) http://www.guicolandia.net/files/expansao/Cyborgs_Space.pdf
(6) Psychic Explorations: A Challenge for Science, Understanding the Nature and Power of Consciousness, ed. Edgar D. Mitchell (Perigree, 1974)
(7) https://people.com/archive/edgar-mitchells-strange-voyage-vol-1-no-6/
(8) Robert Monroe, Journeys Out of Body (Anchor Books, 1977)
(9) William S. Burroughs,  from Civilian Defense in The Adding Machine, p. 105 (Grove/Atlantic, Inc., 2013 )
(10) http://www.faena.com/aleph/articles/william-burroughs-on-how-our-dreams-prepare-us-for-space-travel/
(11) William S. Burroughs, from an interview Recontre aver William Burroughs, Eric Mottram (Les Langues Modernes (Paris) Jan/Feb, 1965) and found in Conversations with William S. Burroughs (Univ. Press of Mississippi, 1999)
(12) Whitley Strieber, Communion: A True Story (Avon Books, 1987)
(13) Jeffrey Kripal, The Secret Body, p 314 (University of Chicago Press, 2017)
(14) http://whitecrowbooks.com/books/feature/electric_light_phenomena_associated_with_a_dying_or_deceased_person_by_anne
(15) http://www.apmagazine.info/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1031&Itemid=53
(16) https://www.anomalyarchives.org/public-hall/collections/files/project-identification/
(17) https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S136468261000218X?via%3Dihub (17A) http://www.hessdalen.org/reports/hpreport84.shtml
(18) http://www.buzzwordbooks.com/hyperspace-of-consciousness.htm
(19) https://www.theguardian.com/science/2019/jan/26/i-predict-great-revolution-physicists-define-life-paul-davies


Martin Caidin’s novel The Final Countdown features the now infamous U.S.S. Nimitz in a plot centered around trans-dimensional time-travel. Caidin was also featured in Loyd Auerbach’s book Mind Over Matter: A Comprehensive Guide to Discovering Your Psychic Power, which details his later experiments in Psycho-Kinesis.

In 2012 I had the opportunity to have dinner with the late Carol de la Herran, who was at the time president and executive director of the Monroe Institute. Our conversation completely changed the way I saw Monroe’s work and these areas of research in that Carol was one of the most stable minded and focused executives I’ve ever met – and yet she was also completely comfortable with the role that psychic development played in her daily life. As one of the original team members in Robert Monroe’s experimental groups she had spent a good portion of her life working in these modalities and had completely integrated them into her professional and personal life. It’s easy to dismiss these areas of experimental development until you meet and spend time with the researchers, executives and scientists that have been seriously working in them – after such a meeting one is forced to consider the implications that there might be more here than we would expect based on the public conversation.


Outer Phenomenon and Inner Journey – A Review of David Halperin’s Journal of a UFO Investigator

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on February 2, 2019

This review was originally published in 2011 through The Revealer, New York University’s online journal of religion and media.

Riddles chased mysteries, were chased by enigmas, around and around my brain.

–from Journal of a UFO Investigator (Viking Press, 2011)

On June 24, 1947 the U.S. Air Force pilot Kenneth Arnold witnessed a series of angular, wedge shaped objects skipping like saucers across the sky near his plane. Although he described them as angular or wedge-shaped, from his statements about “a pie tin cut in half” the news reports gleaned the word “Flying Saucer.” The media’s misrepresentation of his description stuck, defining the iconic image of the UFO for decades to come.

Journal-of-a-UFO-InvestigatorAmbiguity from eye witness accounts, media misrepresentations, ‘expert’ analysis, and the phenomenon itself, pervades UFO culture at every level.  On this unstable ground David Halperin builds his debut novel, Journal of a UFO Investigator, weaving the tale of young Danny Shapiro as he experiences alienation and personal growth inside the shifting realities of 1960’s UFO research and its heretical place in the cultural struggles of the mid- to late-20th century.

As a noted religion scholar specializing in traditions of heavenly ascent and the heretical messiah Sabbatai Zevi, Halperin may seem like an unlikely candidate for authoring a debut novel about UFOlogy. In truth, however, his expertise allows him to uncover some of the more perplexing and valuable aspects of the UFO narrative, and show how even at its most flimsy, the cultural phenomenon surrounding UFOs can provide real insights into the human condition.

UFO encounters, like apparitions of the Virgin Mary, have in themselves very little effect on the culture at large until they become woven into the fabric of our shared experience. The event itself is usually deeply subjective and, if any outward effect is seen, the changes they produce in the culture are based on fueling individual action and response.  While the Virgin Mary often unites Catholic communities with her appearance, alienation soon follows anyone whose experiences move outside of cultural norms. UFO’s don’t share the orthodox dignity of Marian visions.

Halperin skillfully develops the complex interplay of experience, belief and expression that comes from investigating the unknown against a backdrop of Cold War nuclear fears and the dramatic social changes of the 60’s. As a religion scholar Halperin finds UFOs as harbingers of mystery and personal transformation.

Although there are passing allusions and nods toward genre tropes, this isn’t a book about a super team of UFOlogists encountering astounding alien life, there’s no rogue intelligence agents on the hunt for the truth against global conspiracies, no well funded establishment society dedicated to uncovering the secrets of nature, there is just a boy and his descent into the mystery of life.

At play here is Halperin’s understanding of spiritual traditions, specifically the traditions of divine ascent within esoteric Judaism. While most of us are familiar in some way with the nuts and bolts concept of UFOs as extraterrestrial air craft, there exists a much more varied study of the phenomenon in regards to transpersonal experience. Halperin’s skill is to take the most popularized outward expressions of UFOlogy, the hollow earth theories, contactee narratives, time travel, abduction phenomenon, and show their connections to much deeper, and more respected, traditional narratives of life, death and visionary experience.

These concepts provide insight into the real life phenomenon itself through their interplay in the narrative.  Danny’s journal and his investigations are spurred on by the literary influences in his life, the spurious Shaver mysteries published in Fate Magazine, Gray Barker’s dubious investigations of the ‘Men in Black,’ the early accounts of the Roswell incident, all set against his Jewish upbringing and an increasing interest in biblical studies. As his focus shifts from UFOlogy to the Bible, so too does his interpretations of the strange experiences he relates.

These influences affect how his creative imagination encapsulates the very real emotional pain he faces through his dying mother, and the self effacing alienation of growing up Jewish in the Anglicized society of 1960’s America. In the mirror world of his journal, Daniel experiences a Dantean descent into hell with all the trappings of his UFOlogical career.  The novel presents a powerful, fictionalized exploration of the same psychological mythopoesis that occurs in real life encounters with strange phenomenon.

Halperin’s use of some of the most popularized and cartoonish aspects of UFOlogy to frame what is essentially Daniel’s initiation into life, allows the novel to address wider questions on the legitimacy of the UFO phenomenon itself. Serious studies such as Jung’s psychological analysis of the phenomenon, or Jacques Vallee’s methodical investigations, are left as unspoken influences allowing the narrative to develop a valuable philosophical meditation set against the most trivial aspects of the UFO culture.

Much can be learned from how we conscience the unknown. The Cold War framed UFOs against fears of advanced technology in the hands of enemy forces. As political negotiations between the Soviet Union and the United States pressed on, and the possibility of space flight became a reality which altered the nature of international relations, UFO’s became a third party overseeing a globalized vision of humanity.

For some Evangelicals who address the phenomenon, UFOs are demonic entities signifying the End Times.  For some occultists and esotericists UFOs are transdimensional entities capable of being called up through ritual and intent. For psychologists they represent mass delusions and the power of suggestion.

In all cases the unknown nature of the phenomenon provides ground for ideological development. Something happens, an event is witnessed or experienced, either individually or within a group, and due to the inexplicable nature of its occurrence a potent narrative can emerge that channels all of the unconscious pressures latent in the participants’ lives.

When this process is put through the mass media the effects are much more pronounced. Halperin is well aware of this, and uses the novel to explore how something like the Shaver mysteries, a fictionalized account of subterranean demons called the Dero and their war with the Elder Gods that was published in Fate Magazine during the late 50’s and early 60’s as an ostensibly true tale, can lead to people perceiving real encounters with these beings.

Here one can sense his understanding of heretical movements coming to play. Halperin’s study of false Messianic movements gives him a wonderful understanding of how charismatic visionaries can lead mass movements with signs and wonders. The subtle application of this understanding of the UFO phenomenon, and the gentle respect for the heretic, allows the book to explore some of the more absurd aspects of UFOlogy while fostering an atmosphere of existential dread suitable to the reality of Danny’s emotional development.

It also allows Halperin to address the very real personal transmutation that can occur, even when the impetus for it is based on false assumptions. As a nexus for the interplay of fact and fiction, UFOlogy provides a very potent ground of study. Danny works through his hardest youthful trials in the inner world woven around his UFOlogical career. Life’s ever present pain, which finds no answers in his mundane existence, becomes the impetus for a fantastic quest in the phenomenal world of his imagination.

Halperin’s novel shows how understanding this relationship provides a way to move around the stalemated arguments of religious fundamentalism and atheism, by addressing the manifestation of central mystery that both science and religion seek to answer.  For him the essential struggle with our mortality and the mysteries of death provides a common ground between the paranormal, science and religion. In the imaginal interstices of the outer world and inner world we find the expression of this mystery, and it is this interstice that is often ignored by mainstream science and religion.

This is a novel about the power and emergence of new myths, and the growth of contemporary narratives around timeless phenomenon. It is also about our relationship with the mystery of death, and the constant, subtle reminder that our transience “will always be inside.” More than a mere fictional flight, Halperin has given us an interpretive methodology for approaching anomalous phenomenon, and a touching reflection on the painful rewards of awakening to the beauty of our mortality.

David Halperin’s website: https://www.davidhalperin.net

To read David Halperin’s “The Myth is the Mystery: Reflections on Annie Jacobsen’s Area 51,” posted at The Revealer, click here.

The End Times Terror of Four Blood Moons! (Super Wolf Blood Moon Redux)

Posted in > BLACK CADILLAC REVIEW by David on January 15, 2019


Dispensationalist Christian ideology has given birth to some incredible charts covering the various world ages culminating in the Tribulation and Rapture of the church. A consecutive series of Blood Moons in 2014-2015 coinciding with key holidays on the Jewish calendar lead to the publication of a number of dubious prophecies, including Evangelical firebrand John Hagee’s bit of amped up apocalyptic Christian Zionism, Four Blood Moons – the celestial event also blessed us with an astounding array of imagery associated with the eclipses.

Now for your education and enjoyment as we approach a rare Super Wolf Blood Moon on January 21st, 2019 – here is a carefully curated selection of some of the best Dispensationalist images invoking the paranoiac wonder and end times terror of…


(Click on the thumb nails to enlarge) 


All images copyright their respective creators.

Special thanks to Maja D’Aoust, whose mention of this terrifying tetrad provided the original inspiration for a version of this post back in 2015!

*Note: While the end times panic contained in these images is a bit out of date – a simple substitution of the term ‘Super Wolf Blood Moon’ for ‘Four Blood Moons’ in the images can help to stoke at least a sense of the frenzied terror these eager evangelists hope to induce.