Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, February 2020
by: Brent Raynes
My journey down the UFO turnpike from Maine to Florida back around the mid-1970s was not exactly what I had originally foreseen or expected. At times it seemed like a mixed bag of the sublime and the ridiculous sounding, parts fascinating and parts frustrating, stumbling over my optimistic TOE (Theory of Everything) again and again. In a sleepy little hollow in Marshall County, Tennessee, Pulaski Citizen columnist Stanley Ingram introduced me to a rather reclusive country fella who told me how he had apparently outwitted the snoopy aliens one day while walking outside and impulsively tossing a gallon tin can high up into the air, which struck the metallic sounding outer hull of what he guessed was an invisible spaceship. He said he had been in the habit of picking things up in the yard and tossing them into the air without thinking much of it. He believed that UFO beings can closely monitor our thoughts and so from time to time, having this impulsive and spontaneous habit of tossing junk around in his yard, he felt that he had caught the crew of a UFO off guard that day. He claimed he could astral travel also and one time ended up inside a UFO. “They detected I was there and then they got me out,” he said. He shared with me an article he had written way back in June 1946 describing visions and prophetic dreams and how he foresaw the imminent destruction of Nashville, in the very near future, “probably atom bombs.” Such visions and dreams of nuclear destruction and catastrophe of one form or another have long been a part of the so-called contactee syndrome. Also, in his article, he mentioned the “Shaver stories” and those notorious “dero,” and said he had reason to believe they might be hiding out in caves close by. I entered the main chamber of one of these caves, but, well I had another appointment elsewhere. [Never think I was scared! LOL!] A couple up near Akron, Ohio shared their stories of alien encounters, my favorite being the one where they felt they had received a message to visit a certain nearby location and when they did a truck with three ordinary looking men materialized it seemed underneath a low flying bell-shaped craft. The husband assured me I could have my own encounters if I simply began to try and mindlink with them, imagine I was somehow one with them or something.
However, neither mindlessly tossing things high into the air or imagining an alien mindlink worked for me any better than walking like an Egyptian with The Bangles, though the latter was fun to try.
In another Tennessee hollow in Frankewing, Ingram introduced me to a woman, who said she believed she was part alien, and who along with her family claimed a whole slew of high strange tales. Besides the usual humanoid ufonauts and ghosties, she claimed to have encountered an upright female cat being, taller than herself, that conversed with her on one occasion. I asked if it had whiskers and pointed ears, to which she replied: “It was a cat. I know what a cat looks like.” She explained there were good and bad entities and how you needed to be discerning and gave me some advice on how to detect possible space people who may be walking among us. Unfortunately, that didn’t help me out much either.
I recall how she mentioned wanting to start a church dedicated to a group of human-like beings from the planet Plantoes, located conveniently on the opposite side of our sun, of which there existed several in this region of Tennessee who professed a belief in these beings, since Ingram had written about a man named David Swanner over in Minor Hill, in Giles County, who claimed he had met these beings. Oddly, no where outside of the Pulaski Citizen’s reach here in Tennessee have I come across these alleged contacts with beings from the Plantoes.
Now don’t get me wrong. I heard many stories that sounded very anomalous and the experiencers credible, but as the stories evolve and people struggle to put things into some sort of meaningful context, a kind of living mythology may begin to take form to fill the void left by an absence of an absolute certainty and explanation for such reports. Though we humans love a good mystery, we also possess a strong desire for meaning and hard answers!
Up near Akron, Ohio, there was a young man who said he met up with aliens early one morning, just walking through the wall of his home to go meet them. Outside he met up with a man and a woman in silvery body suits. They had dark hair and had a human-like shape, but the most unusual non-human characteristic was how they had no eyes, noses, mouths or ears! Instead of a saucer, he remembered being taken for a ride with this odd couple that night in a green Volkswagen, though a local contactee said she did see him on one occasion onboard a regular UFO she had been on also.
Damn those crazy screen memories!
This all kind of reminds me of the story John Keel wrote about in his book The Mothman Prophecies in which he mentioned an engineer named Rex Ball who unexpectedly, it is alleged, came upon a strange underground installation in Georgia back in 1940. He found it occupied, he claimed, by a small group of Oriental looking men and a few American military officers. Caught up with in a nearby tunnel, one of the officers exclaimed, “Make him look like a nut!” Then, the next thing he knew, he came back to his consciousness above ground in a field, and naturally when he told his story he doubtless sounded like a nut. Keel I strongly suspect came across this particular gem in Ray Palmer’s Amazing Stories, which were full of underground encounters as a result of the Richard Shaver stories of an underworld of those detrimental robots the dero.
Over the years, I’ve tracked down many people who sounded a little nuts, and as I try and explain these cases the best I can, I’m sure I come across sounding a bit like a nut myself, more often than I care to admit. I did come across some who were certifiably nuts, like the woman in Maine who wrote me a letter saying she had the answer to UFOs, they were Satan’s secret weapons or something or other from out of Turkey, and when I traveled to her home I was told a specific date in the then near future that the earth was going to be destroyed, and only she and Jesus would continue on, as husband-and-wife. Nonetheless, many claims I have heard through the years from people who I have felt were being quite sincere and who seemed credible – it was just the very strange sounding nature of their claims that sounded nuts because our current science and understanding cannot yet satisfactorily validate and accommodate them within a framework that is mainstream.
One person described to me how a mysterious sphere hovered near him in a rural area of Indiana whereupon he experienced cosmic consciousness, everything seemed connected and deeply spiritual, while another in Ohio, and yet another in Florida, shared terrifying memories of encounters with balls of light and humanoid figures intruding into their homes, even into their bedrooms at night. They were afraid that they were being harassed by demonic forces. Meanwhile, young housewives across Ohio, from Akron to Cincinnati area, were telling me of silver suited humanoid beings who were seemingly materializing in their homes. Recently, many years later, the daughter of one of them described her memory of such an encounter back in her childhood. Meanwhile, one woman in Cuyahoga Falls described a beautiful humanoid who shape-shifted from out of a white tube of light. Part Native American, she introduced me to a medicine man over in Pennsylvania who shared how the protective sky beings of his ancestors visited him and his wife one day after landing their spaceship in his backyard. [Are we dealing with ancient beings/phenomena that can “shape-shift,” in a sense, perhaps both literally and metaphorically, adapting to whatever belief systems are convenient or necessary at the time? Is it Vallee’s “metalogic” or Keel’s “ultraterrestrial” tricksters? Jungian archetypes of the collective unconscious? What?] One man near Cincinnati, in Colerain Township, who had shared with local ufologists his sighting of a UFO, described to me how a “softball sized light like self-contained energy” would occasionally appear to him and seemed to protect him when he felt he was in “some kind of danger.” Like so many others I had interviewed, this wasn’t his first and only encounter with perplexing events in his life. For example, when he was about 12-13 he had a poltergeist type experience where he awoke from sleep and a Bible and other books inexplicably flew off the top of a dresser, striking him in the head. In another instance, witnesses saw his body briefly engulfed by a strange light. Frightened by that and an unexplained whistling sound from the woods nearby, they locked themselves inside a house. The door was secured with various locks, including a chain and a bolt, but after a while, before their very eyes, the door was unlocked and opened as though by invisible hands. followed by a powerful gust of wind. His wife recalled how one day she was in the living room of their home and she heard an odd electronic beeping type sound. She got up and located the source – it was coming from her husband’s chest! He was napping on their bed. She tried unsuccessfully to shake him awake, but he remained sound asleep. She then picked up their young daughter, who had been sleeping in the bed beside him, and placed her in another room. Then she turned on the radio and after only a couple or so bars of music he woke right up.
How does an investigator process such oddball accounts? And believe me what I’ve written here thus far is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Clearly, such stories are perceived as an affront to many “nuts and bolts” ufologists who doggedly pursue the theoretical “ET” mainstream, often eliminating or ignoring any “paranormal,” “cryptid” or apparitional occurrences, if they’re told of them, feeling that it’s not relevant to their investigative assignments. It belongs to researchers, they often feel, in other fields, like ghost hunters, parapsychologists, cryptozoologists, or whomever.
As messy as it can become, from my perspective the “scientific” ufologist who wishes to delve into such accounts should pursue the people part of this equation with great care and on various levels. Some decades ago, I took Keel’s advice with all of this and tried to examine the complex psychodynamics of the contactee syndrome, cultivating friendships with some leading mental health people in this field, like psychiatrist/parapsychologist Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz, who had also been a friend of Keel’s, and my good friend and colleague Dr. Greg Little, a psychologist who has been involved with me and this magazine from our first acquaintance back in 1985. Greg has delved into so many intriguing aspects, from Native American shamanism and ancient sites, to Jungian psychology, and so much more, and he’s also thoroughly familiar with Keel’s works as well, having incorporated a variety of Keel’s key ideas and observations in his books The Archetype Experience (1984), People of the Web (1990), and Grand Illusions (1994).
Back in 2016 I was working with the Dr. Edgar Mitchell Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial and Extraordinary Experiences and with Rey Hernandez’s help I developed a survey instrument to explore details of alien devices that these contact experiencers may have perceived. I noticed one that cropped up a good number of times that was often described as "wands" - and I thought the descriptions were quite similar to how we view "magic wands" in "fairy tales". Here are five actual descriptions from five individual alien "experiencers" from this FREE survey:
"They held a wand, or what looked like a rod with a soft bright white light on the end."
"The first device looked like a wand with a bluish violet light at the tip and was touched to the back of my head where it joins my neck."
"About 2 inches in diameter and 9-12 inches long, he pointed the rod at me and it started to light up and I lost consciousness."
"A small wand-like instrument. It appeared to glow on the tip of it."
"He is holding a cylindrical type wand with a glowing tip."
Even though its publication was half a century ago, I still highly recommend reading Dr. Jacques Vallee's Passport to Magonia (1969), where this French born scientist made comparisons to UFO landings and being encounters to the stories and traditions of fairy lore, elves, gnomes, assorted elementals, angels and devils. Some prominent ufologists even found the Muslim Djinn to be a suspect in our alien encounter scenarios. Vallee wrote: "According to the Western cabalists, the sylphs flew through the air with the speed of lightning, riding a 'peculiar cloud.' It is noteworthy too that in France some fairies are supposed to bear a luminous stone, an object that is often part of the equipment of flying saucer occupants. Many a 'little man' has a light on either his belt, chest. or helmet. In a French tradition that survives in modern novels, the fortunate mortal who can steal the fairy's luminous stone is sure of lifelong happiness."
Moses of course had his powerful staff which, according to the accounts in the Bible’s Book of Exodus, he produced water from a rock, transformed the staff into a snake and then back into a staff again, and even parted the Red Sea. Believe me, I’ve been there [when in the Navy] and that would have to be a pretty awesome accomplishment. This also makes me think of dowsing. In fact, I was just reading how cave paintings in North Africa depict dowsing showing that this practice was being done at least 8,000 years ago.
Keel certainly felt that these ultraterestrials/elemental forms that he speculated have been interacting with us down through the ages could indeed read us and provide a wide range of so-called miracles, signs, apparitions [you name it] that could be molded to our very belief systems and cultural/religious expectations and concepts. I do indeed feel that prominent researchers like Keel and Vallee correctly recognized that there was a bigger picture to this enigma that potentially involved consciousness, paraphysics, and quantum physics. Naturally, as critical thinking and objective investigators/researchers we have to cautiously weight out what is them and what is us in this perplexing matter. We have to be on the look out for how people may color their accounts based on our current beliefs and expectations and how we the students may similarly be influenced. Unconscious contents, the phenomenon of cryptoamnesia, may color accounts to some degree – particularly evident wherein hypnotic regression may be utilized.
Multidisciplinary research is much needed. Folklorists, mythologists, parapsychologists, paranormal investigators, cryptozoologists, therapists, neuroscientists, physicists, and others should be encouraged to join the discussion and to examine objectively potential areas of interrelated significance. We all need to come together and compare notes. Ufology needs to become a unified field of multidisciplinary inquiry and so do these other fields who often choose as well to remain strictly within their particular guidelines or field of specialization, be it Bigfoot hunting, ghost hunting, ESP testing, or whatever. We all need to expand our scope, compare notes, and objectively examine and evaluate the potential “big picture” that may remain hidden from our individual views and beliefs because of our myopic and selective visioning and interpretive approaches and methodologies.