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Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, August 2022

Processions of the Damned – Part Two

by: Brent Raynes

Following the Keelian road less traveled is one approach that will certainly introduce you to many processions of the damned, as I outlined in Part One. In the beginning, everything may well seem quite obvious, logical and literal. To the “nuts and bolts” ET mindset of mainstream ufology anomalous lights and objects that may be associated with mysterious beings are ET visitors, while many religious disciplines have long seen them as spiritual phenomena, perhaps the manifestations of angels, demons, or maybe the Djinn, while occultists may see them as supernatural spirits or elementals of various sorts, or creatures like Bigfoot, Nessie, and Mothman as undiscovered physical species by the cryptozoologists, creatures that just seem to again and again evade capture, and from time to time turn up at UFO sites, as well as spooky and haunted locations.

These various disciplines often have followers who are blinded by biased beliefs. They unconsciously pursue things with a confirmation bias. That bias can prevent them from gathering a full and accurate story behind an experiencer’s memories. A ufologist may follow-up on a witness’s account of a UFO encounter, but if the witness brings up a poltergeist outbreak that occurred soon afterwards, or say a Bigfoot like creature walks across their lawn, the investigator may well not include any mention of those incidents in their reports. The reason? They’re not seen as related to their particular area or field of inquiry. They might recommend the witness go to a Bigfoot hunter or a ghost hunter. Otherwise, it’s not their problem. And, sadly, the same may well happen if a Bigfoot hunter or a ghost hunter hears a good UFO case in conjunction with their investigations, and vice versa. Interestingly, I’ve met ghost hunters who, while investigating a haunting, unexpectedly came upon a Bigfoot or a UFO as well. Ghost hunters have even invited me on their investigations. In one case, specifically because a UFO presence had been reported. Was it a mere coincidence?

No, not necessarily. This stuff can be a mixed bag. Unfortunately, few seem to realize it. There truly needs to be a lot more multidisciplinary sharing and cross talking between these investigators and researchers willing to compare their data for possible comparative correlations and interrelationships. Those who have done so have reported noteworthy results. Consider the large amount of data and statistics compiled in Dr. Edgar Mitchell’s FREE [Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial and Extraordinary Experiences] volume Beyond UFOs (2018), detailing its exhaustive survey of over three thousand contactee experiencers who described a full spectrum of psychic and entity experiences.

One of the biggest things overlooked in ufology is how the experiencer may be brain wired and how their psychodynamic makeup may be responsible for their unique and interactive experiences with the very physics and psychical fabric of these phenomena. This is evident in NDEs, visionary and mystical encounters, the contactee syndrome, and other strange life changing events that may alter and inspire new belief systems and insights, generating new neurological pathways of transformation in the brain of an experiencer.

Whether experiencer, researcher, or investigator, the majority of individuals in this field tend to possess an intense interest and curiosity about these “paranormal” aspects and components and, at a personal level, many certainly assign a great significance to all of this. Dr. Leo Sprinkle described how in his opinion humanity may be gradually evolving beyond an awareness of planetary citizenship to cosmic citizenship. Ancient aboriginal cultures throughout the world themselves envisioned our reality as being composed of three main layers, commonly known to us today as the three-world concept. In the Biblical account of the crucifixion of Jesus we read how He afterwards both appeared physically to His followers and descended into the underworld to address the dead, and in the end ascended up into heaven, thus paying visits to all three worlds. According to my dear friend, the noted author and psychologist Dr. Gregory Little, among the Cheyenne Indians there was a strong belief in this concept. Interestingly, it most likely, according to researcher and author Karl Schlesier, evolved from very similar beliefs and shamanic practices to be found in northern Siberia going back some 12,000 years. In fact, Schlesier found an 86 percent match with their practices.

“In the beginning there was a singularity and I use that term singularity not because that’s what physics calls it but that is what the term that ethnographers used when they investigated how the Native Americans accounted for creation,” Greg Little explained to me recently. “The singularity was a single point of spiritual energy that, for whatever reason, evolved into two opposing forces that kept it in balance. If you think of the yin-yang symbol, where you have a circle with two rotating forms that fill up the circle, that’s the yin-yang symbol, and that is exactly what Native Americans believed.” Greg explained that when the singularity occurred, according to the Native American traditions, “it split apart and when it split it instantly created three worlds. An upper world, a lower world, and the middle world. The middle world is the physical world. That’s what we’re in. The upper world has a spiritual nature to it as does the lower world. The lower spiritual world has disorder. It’s always tearing things apart. Disorder really makes everything degrade down to its most primordial substance.”

The upper world was about creation while the lower world was of entropy, Greg further explained. “The moment something is created the spirit of entropy takes over and it starts disintegrating and taking apart whatever creation has made. It’s a constant ongoing process. When something falls apart through entropy it can be reconfigured and recreated into something new.” In Sacred Places (1990) author James Swan reflected upon Carl Jung’s notions of “projections of the unconscious,” and wondered if UFOs might not be “spiritual intelligences in the upper world, interpreted through modern minds,” adding this thought: “I often wonder…if when looking at the same energetic manifestations an Indian might see a spirit while a person from modern society might see a spaceship.” The Native word for “singularity” was associated with both energy and spirit. The Cheyenne had a ceremony called Massaum. “The Massaum ceremony was a formal process to connect with the three created worlds: the upper world, the lower world, and the Earth (the middle world),” Greg describes in Origins of the Gods (2022), co-authored with Andrew Collins. “The Massaum allowed communion with the spiritual powers of all three worlds and maintained a balance and harmony among the powers of all three. It was a way to allow spiritual powers to interact with humans so that balance and harmony could be maintained.” Keith Thompson, in his book Angels and Aliens (1991), delved also into the beliefs and associations of different ancient cultures and their beliefs in the existence of a kind of an astral body, also called the “light body.” Thompson wrote: “Ancient Egyptians believed in a system of interlocking subtle bodies, among them the ka and the ba, in which life was embedded. All of these formulations had roots in far older shamanistic traditions where soul-travel between three worlds – upper, middle, and lower – and interaction with non-ordinary entities in each realm was taken for granted.”

Lyall Watson, in his book Lifetide (1979), mentioned yet another who can guide you down that road less traveled. He praised Jacques Vallee for his alternative insights into the UFO conundrum. He wrote, “From the morass of ufology, one voice rises clear and clean – that of Jacques Vallee, a French astrophysicist. He defines the area as that concerned with ‘the myth of contact between mankind and an intelligent race endowed with apparently supernatural powers.’ And he points out that our present perplexity is by no means unique. ‘However strong the current belief in saucers from space it cannot be stronger than the Celtic faith in the elves and the fairies, or the medieval belief in lutins, or the fear throughout Christian lands, in the first centuries of our era, of demons and satyrs and fauns.’ There certainly seems to be a strong similarity between the entities described as the pilots of UFOs and the fairy folk, elves, and sylphs of the Middle Ages. Vallee points to the example of the fadets, hairy little black men who were said to live in caves in the Poitou region of France, and who, as recently as the mid-nineteenth century continued to play tricks on terrified women. That same area today is free of fadets, but it is one of the hotspots in Europe for UFO sightings. Similarly, in northern Mexico there are said to be one-meter-tall, hairy, black humanoids, known locally as ikals. For centuries these ‘spirits of the air’ have been attacking people on country roads, but today they do so with the aid of rockets strapped to their backs.”

“I mean no disrespect to either UFOs or fairies by equating them in this way, but must agree with Vallee when he says, ‘Attempting to understand the meaning, the purpose of flying saucers…is just as futile as was the pursuit of fairies, if one makes the mistake of confusing appearance and reality.’”

I get the feeling that we students of ufology (as well as many others) are often rediscovering associations and connections that our ancient ancestors already recognized. All of humankind has obviously struggled through the ages with “confusing appearance and reality.” That confusion, at its most negative end of the human spectrum, has resulted in witch hunts, religious wars, and various kinds of persecutions and violence that reflect the opposite of who and what we should be spiritually. Perhaps the archetypal trickster’s main goal is to mirror back at us our own shortsightedness and shortcomings, and to burst our ego bubble and force us to back up and punt, and to thoughtfully reflect upon the consequences of our past and present actions. I’m going to speculate here that its main aim is to wake us up to a larger and more complex reality, but too many of us have slipped down the rabbit hole of appearances versus objective reality.

Like John Keel, I have had those most peculiar moments when truly odd and curious synchronicities would occur and seem to confirm that I needed to pay attention to certain parts of this confounding puzzle. But how many of us are paying attention. Eventually I was led to understand that there was not only an apparent connection with one particular aspect to another, but, most importantly, between mind and matter, consciousness and physics [whatever the binding X factor may be], at which point I came to realize [as have others on this, at many times, lonely journey] how critical it is to avoid myth-making and to indeed not make “the mistake of confusing appearance and reality,” which has become a revolving door in a hall of mirrors for so many, and for so very long.

In a recent chat with Greg Little, he shared how some decades ago, when he was initially visiting UFO witnesses and investigating abductees, and doing some regression hypnosis, he started to realize that “this is not what it appears to be” and that “something is amiss.” He continued: “There’s clearly something very real going on but whatever it is it’s being concealed. And that’s like the Native American trickster which conceals its real appearance and its real nature. You don’t know what it is. So in order to understand like a Native American trickster that actually has a lot of knowledge and a lot of beneficial things can come from interacting with it, you have to get past the trickster part first, meaning you can’t really be pulled in by it. I don’t mean fooled by it. But you can’t be trapped by it. The trickster will trap you a lot like a spider that’s making a web. The web is alluring and good looking but you can get trapped by it. So that’s what I feel has gone on with the UFO field for a long time.” “In psychology, you get trapped by your own beliefs. If you believe they’re extraterrestrial that is what you’ll focus on. You will ignore reports of paranormal stuff. I vividly recall Walt Andrus, who was then the head of MUFON, coming to Memphis and saying that the paranormal stuff had nothing to do with UFOs. That the abductions that appear to be almost spiritual in nature have nothing to do with UFOs. What were the UFOs to him? Well, they were physical alien craft and he just wanted to know what their propulsion is and what they were doing.”

Something isn’t just “out there.” It would seem that those “spirits of the air” have long been with us here. As we evolve they evolve through various human frames of reference. The late Rosemary Ellen Guiley had an expression: Who is the Oz behind the curtain? She felt the Oz was what the Moslem’s call the Djinn. Gordon Creighton, the former editor of England’s Flying Saucer Review, felt pretty much the same. Keel, however, felt that like the Venusians and so many other supposed beings and races “out there,” the Djinn weren’t really real either. Just another fictitious frame of reference invented by the “ultraterrestrials,” or someone, who are seemingly conforming to our own expectations and beliefs, and thus we bear some responsibility in all of what’s happening.

When I told Rosemary how Keel looked at the Djinn as having no basis in objective reality, she disagreed. She saw them as a probable Oz behind the curtain. But then upon reflection she added: “Even more disturbing is the idea that there may be something else even behind the Djinn, manipulating all our concepts of ‘reality.’ Whatever it is, whenever we get close to exposing it, it artfully shape-shifts away.” Even the pioneers Keel and Vallee, who came to see many similar connections and parallels in all of this, seemingly had a few run ins and differing points of view along the way. For example, once in a personal phone conversation with Keel, I asked him if he ever saw a positive side to these phenomena, like angels and religious miracles, in view of how he concentrated so much in his writings on “the deceptive and manipulative elements” of so much of these phenomena. “Vallee has also tried to write about that,” he said. “He doesn’t know enough about the subject.” Then came his verdict. “No, in all of these years, I’ve never seen a positive side to it. … Even with the angel visitations and all, they always turn sour so it’s a little scary.” Keel fumed about how many “hardcore UFO buffs” had “fought bitterly against things like mutes, abductions, lost time cases” and other things he tried to introduce in his writings back in the 60s and claimed in a letter to me that Vallee and Hynek had “actively campaigned against me, calling such things ‘Keelisms’ and they even went so far as to try to blackmail Charles Bowen of England’s FSR into rejecting my articles. Bowen, to his credit, did not bow to their demands.” In a note from Keel dated July 30, 2004, he wrote thanking me for a copy of my first book Visitors from Hidden Realms that I had sent him. He began, “I really appreciate all the time and effort that went into it. I understand and agree with everything. My own experiences are identical to yours. I concluded years ago that there is nothing we can do about any of it. It is all way beyond human comprehension and does not fit into our concept of reality. It is all a game, but we don’t know the rules. Religions are merely a method to reach down to us and keep us confused. We are skidding to an end and we’ll never know the ultimate truth.”

His message touched me. John Keel, who once declared “belief is the enemy,” and he had also said how he felt more as a demonologist than a ufologist [which is saying a lot for a man who repeatedly described himself as a life-long atheist], could catapult many of us in his mesmerizing writings to strange realities that could seem so very dark, sinister, and real from the way he could write it all. But at the end of the day there was that realization that hard evidence and a comprehensive understanding of what was going on was still sadly lacking, in spite of one’s determined efforts to bring it all to light. We have seen the trickster and it is us. The shadow and trickster of our own psychology too often undermines our efforts.

But that’s just part of the story. I also believe that it is reasonable to speculate that for a long time an outside intelligence operating behind the scenes influences us and tends to conform to our beliefs and expectations. It can be very difficult not to confuse “appearance and reality.” Just look at religion and politics and how it can mess with our minds.

It’s a tangled web. Ufology is a field in chaos. Keel described it half a century ago as an infant belief-ridden pseudoscience. Even today, by and large, the mainstream has made little genuine progress.

Photo of Dr. Claude Swanson

Noted scientist Dr. Swanson has sadly left us. Below is a notice from his family of his recent passing. He was working with CCRI (Consciousness Contact and Research Institute) recently. I had the pleasure of briefly meeting a few years back at the UFO Watchtower conference in Hooper, Colorado. Dear all,

We are deeply saddened to share the news that Dr. Claude Swanson passed away peacefully in his sleep on June 28th, 2022. Dr. Swanson's family is now working to preserve his research and access to his published works, and we appreciate your patience in this endeavor. We are beginning to plan a memorial service to be held in Northern Virginia in the coming months and hope to hold a virtual service alongside the in-person event. If you would like to receive more information on the memorial service or the family's efforts to preserve his legacy, please sign up for updates here. We have created a memorial website at www.claude-swanson-memorial.com and would welcome any stories, photos, or fond memories that you may wish to share. His obituary follows: Dr. Claude Swanson - Obituary

Dr. Claude Vince Swanson passed away peacefully on June 28th, 2022 in Tucson, Arizona at the age of 75.

Born on December 29, 1946, to Claude Sr and Dolly Swanson, Claude was driven by an intense curiosity about the world around him. He pursued a career in applied physics, earning his undergraduate degree at MIT and winning the Borden Prize for the highest freshman GPA. He earned a PhD in Physics at Princeton while receiving both the National Science Foundation and Putnam Fellowships, and continued his research as a postdoctoral fellow at Cornell University. Following a leadership position at the Aeronautical Research Associates of Princeton, he founded his own consulting company, Applied Physics Technology, inc., that carried out studies in applied physics for commercial and government agencies.

But Claude was most passionate about understanding the phenomena that science could not explain. His first pursuit as a graduate student was unified field theory, an ambitious field of physics research that seeks to unite all the governing theories of force and matter in the universe into a single framework. By his accounting, the science of the paranormal was an essential missing piece of that framework. His deep curiosity and this conviction drove his investigations into the paranormal that he documented and shared with the world through his published volumes: The Synchronized Universe (I); Lifeforce (II); and Science of the Soul (III).

His research, his passions, his life’s work and his deepest commitment were in pursuit of what he felt was his purpose: to learn and teach how we humans are more than our physical bodies. As an expert on the science of the paranormal, he was an influential author and speaker in the community, and was professionally affiliated with the Monroe Institute, Forever Family Foundation, MUFON, and many others. He was deeply grateful for the close friendship and intellectual openness that he found in these communities.

Claude was shaped by his early life growing up in Gretna, Virginia, as the oldest brother to his four siblings: Tom, Mary Ellen, Patricia and James. He played clarinet in the school band, was an Eagle Scout and paper boy, helped teach his classmates physics, worked at the local grocery store and helped his father in the summer on his family's several farms. Claude is survived by his two children, Alexandra and William, and their mother Marian; his siblings, Mary Ellen, Patricia and James; and his grandchild, Oliver. He was sensitive, brilliant, loving, complex, and gentle, and we miss him dearly.

Thank you,
The Family of Claude Swanson

Thursday, June 20, 2024