Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, August 2015
by: Brent Raynes
Quote: John Keel
In recent months, I’ve been personally conducting a survey of people who have described having Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Yes, just like the Steven Spielberg movie from 1977. These people claim that they’ve seen the craft and occupants close up, and even had, in some cases they claimed, onboard experiences. Though you may be tempted to dismiss their stories as the delusional ravings of lonely neurotic housewives, paranoid schizophrenics, and various other borderline personalities and disturbed types, instead my survey clientele has consisted of two retired college professors, an aeronautics engineer, a geologist, a woman with a masters degree in experimental psychology, an X-ray technician, a former police officer, and others from responsible segments of our society that require such people to be grounded and in touch with reality.
Dr. J. Allen Hynek, a former astronomical consultant to the U.S. Air Force on UFOs, is the one who originally came up with the term Close Encounters of the Third Kind and acted as a consultant to Spielberg on the movie by the same name. Though initially a skeptic, he came to accept through the years that something unusual was indeed going on. I visited him at his home in Evanston, Illinois, back in September 1972, and had the honor of talking with him on this subject and specific cases that intrigued him at the time, like the numerous UFO sightings that had come out of Washington’s Yakima Indian Reservation. He even surprised me by stating that he was beginning to warm up to some of John Keel’s theories regarding UFOs. I had also just obtained a hard copy of his then newly released book The UFO Experience, which he autographed, and which of course I still have today.
A number of people I have spoken to, who had also met Dr. Hynek, described how during the last years of his life he was beginning privately to discuss and open up to Keelian type aspects like the parallel dimension theory and the appearances of UFOs in proximity to ancient Native American type sites.
In an interview with John Keel in 1984, author and publisher Tim Beckley (UFO Review #18) pointed out how prominent UFO researchers Dr. Jacques Vallee and Dr. Hynek were coming onboard then with Keel’s UFO/paranormal correlations. “When I first expressed my views in books like Operation Trojan Horse and Our Haunted Planet, I was met with quite a bit of opposition,” Keel responded, adding how “for years people like Hynek and Vallee fought my concepts.”
What allowed this free-lance journalist John Keel to look beyond the usual trappings that repeatedly causes the mainstream ufological community to make the “nuts and bolts” extraterrestrial theory of primary, largely single-minded focus of favor? I believe the early seeds of his unique psychological evolution were planted back in his childhood and teenage years. “When I was a kid, there were many poltergeists in our farm house,” Keel told West Virginia born UFO/Mothman author Andy Colvin. Keel said that he began hearing knocks on his bedroom wall. “I would tap to it and it would tap back,” he explained. “I worked out a primitive code and asked it questions like, ‘Who will win the war?’”
Around age ten (about 1940) people on a back road near his family farm outside of Buffalo, New York, began seeing a tall hair-covered creature. They believed that it was a gorilla. “It scared several people badly and the farmers all went out with shotguns to track it down,” Keel told Beckley.
One night in 1937, when Keel was 7-years-old, he believes that he saw his very first UFO. He was in a car with his parents outside a small town called Canseraga, in New York, when they all saw what he described as “a huge, brilliantly illuminated sphere.” Keel’s stepfather stopped the car to observe more closely. It first appeared on top of a nearby hill. Initially they thought that it was perhaps a barn on fire, or some other structure burning, but then it slowly rose straight up into the air a short distance and then it shot off out of sight. Keel described how the memory of that experience was burned into his mind and how he never forgot it. Keel then, in his recollection of this event, added this odd postscript: “But many years later I asked my parents about it and they had absolutely no memory of the episode whatsoever.”
Back in 1974, Keel revealed to author Colin Wilson how for years he had been quietly conducting interviews of warlocks. He explained that he was hoping to write a book that would delve into the experiences of “natural witches and warlocks” – individuals, Keel explained, who were born with the ability to not only perceive “elementals” but also to control them to some extent too it appeared. He added that he felt that he himself had this ability when he was an adolescent, but managed to distance himself from it by redirecting his attention by studying things like physics and chemistry in his youth, and that by age 18 he had lost it. However, it was at age 18, while staying in a residence near Times Square, that he had an experience that resembled classic spiritual illumination. “For a few brief moments, I suddenly understood everything,” Keel had explained. “I was really one with the cosmos. The next morning, I could remember very little of it, but I’m sure it was all entered into my subconscious.”
These are not the typical experiences we hear and read of being shared by the typical ufologist, but they were a part of John Keel’s experiential background and psychological make-up. These anomalous and dramatic life events, along with his sighting of a UFO in 1954 while exploring Egypt’s Upper Nile, a metallic looking disc-shaped object with a dome on top hovering above the Aswan Dam, and later his extensive treks through Asia studying claims of things dealing with the unexplained and the occult – even tracking in Tibet an Abominable Snowman for several weeks - all contributed in various ways to the full-time UFO investigations across 20 states that he would initiate in 1966. In his twenties, he was a globetrotting journalist who later served as Science Editor for Funk & Wagnall’s Encyclopedia. His credentials were very impressive.
Keel came to speculate that UFOs and the entities/intelligences seemingly associated with them were what occultists had long referred to as “elementals,” beings existing in a hidden realm who occasionally intrude or manifest into our world. Although mainstream “nuts and bolts” ufology has long perceived all of this in more literal and simplistic terms, Keel explored an alternative physics behind it all, speculating on how we could be dealing with energy forms of intelligence that manipulate and traverse the electromagnetic spectrum, often in ways invisible to our abilities to detect and perceive. “Are ghosts really UFOs and UFO entities, or are UFOs really ghosts?” Keel wrote in his book Strange Creatures from Time and Space (1970). “Take your choice.” Some researchers like Andrew Collins and Dr. Greg Little, as presented in the book Lightquest (2012) have speculated on these UFOs as being plasma energy forms of intelligence. A British science writer named Antony Milne (see interview with this author here in this issue) in his book Fireballs, Skyquakes and Hums (2011) speculated that we might be dealing with “plasmoid” beings. In addition, here’s an article that references the possibility of “plasmoid” creatures too (http://www.ufocasebook.com/2012/plasmatessman.html). There has even been some speculation in the paranormal field itself that some “ghosts” are composed of plasma energy.
Distinguished psychiatrist Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz, whose intense interest in the paranormal developed back in 1945 when both he and his mother had apparent precognitive impressions of the death of his younger brother Eric, who was in the army at the time and who was killed in action in Germany, and then over two decades later, with much psi research and investigation under his belt at that point, he (Dr. Schwarz) would come into contact with John Keel who would point out to the good doctor that there was also an obvious link between psychic phenomena and UFOs. Dr. Schwarz would take this revelation quite seriously and hit the road to interview many UFO experiencers himself first-hand in several states to confirm Keel’s conclusions. Later he penned a two volume book, UFO Dynamics: Psychiatric & Psychic Aspects of the UFO Syndrome (1983, 561 pages total), that contained many cases that he had personally investigated [one of an “alien abduction” in Maine, which included a chapter from me, as I had been a part of that particular investigation]. Dr. Schwarz frequently recommended to me and others to read Dr. Nandor Fodor’s An Encyclaepedia of Psychic Science (1966), as it contained a wealth of early psychical, mediumistic case histories that had, again and again, haunting parallels (if you’ll excuse the pun) to many modern day alleged UFO close encounter/contactee situations. Dr. Fodor was a practicing psychoanalyst and for the last four years of his life exchanged letters, information and met once with Dr. Schwarz. I had also corresponded myself with John Keel, going back to 1969, and he offered me (then a teenaged ufologist) strong advice early on to study apparitional and parapsychological literature if I wanted to better understand the UFO contactee experience.
In point of fact, in my own recent studies of contactee/abductee percipients, I found that out of 33 subjects I surveyed about having experiences with ghosts or haunted houses, 25 (that’s in the neighborhood of 75 %) responded that they had, and many had a variety of classic first-hand accounts to share. Again out of 33, 17 (some 51%) claimed to have experienced poltergeist episodes.
In that 1984 interview, when Tim Beckley congratulated Keel for his making the psychic connection, he stated, “So you’ve triumphed in the end. How does it feel?” Keel replied: “It’s a hollow victory. We have just opened pandora’s box. Instead of solving the mystery, we’ve created many new ones.”
Little has changed. There remains still so very much yet for us to learn.
1. Lightquest: Your Guide to seeing and interacting with UFOs, Mystery Lights and Plasma Intelligences, by Andrew Collins, with an introduction by Gregory L. Little. 2012, Eagle Wing Books, Inc., PO Box 9972, Memphis, TN 38109.
2. Searching for the String: Selected Writings of John A. Keel, edited by Andy Colvin. 2014, New Saucerian Books.