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Alternate Perceptions Magazine, April 2016

The First Contactee—A Scientist

by: Dr. Greg Little

“Shortly after the influx of UFO sightings in the early 1950s came a new phase of saucerism: the emergence of the ‘contactees.’ Suddenly, it seemed, the Space People who piloted the heretofore unidentified craft were now introducing themselves to a select group of individuals, chosen or self-appointed, to spread the wisdom of the ‘Space Brothers’ to all mankind.” Ronald Story, The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters (2001, p. 134)

The aging but still energetic scientist, then 55 years old, had worked for universities and his national government for decades. He traveled frequently in his official position, often alone, and had just begun a leave of absence from his appointed government position. In the past few years he had become obsessed with dreams about life and death, the meaning of life, and many personal, ethical dilemmas that nagged him. His past, it seemed, had become a raging, swirling psychological issue. It needed some sort of recognition and closure, neither of which was the first choice of the scientist. He had tried to forget the strangeness of his past by immersing himself in a quest to understand the natural world. The strategy had worked—until now.

In his youth he had often seen inexplicable lights darting around in the sky, experienced brilliant flashes of light that intruded into his room, and had visions of many kinds. All of the strangeness in his life was avoided and coped with by a focus on science. Few people knew about early life experiences with the paranormal. Even fewer people today recognize this aspect of his early life.

By age 55 he had become a highly regarded mathematician, a widely read natural scientist, and a sought-out engineer. His many books, work, and projects made him famous. He had turned down the position of chairman of mathematics at the most prestigious university in his country, preferring to write books on science and take on appointed governmental tasks. He also disliked giving lectures, so a professorship was out of the question. But his face and name were well-known to those who kept up with the media of his day, so he often preferred to travel quietly and without fanfare, having contact mainly with close friends and few ladies whose company he enjoyed. By age 55 he was filled with self-loathing and an irresistible impulse to make some sort of moral sense of his life.

He usually stayed in the same hotels and often dined late and alone in secluded places in efforts to avoid admirers and others. Everything he did and all of his travel was carefully arranged. He had been a womanizer and that aspect of himself was also part of his internal struggle, although his “urges” had suddenly and inexplicably ceased. Despite all these efforts to control his life, everything changed when his first encounter with an alien occurred.

He was staying in London when his extraterrestrial encounters began. He was eating alone in a small side room of a local tavern. Suddenly the room darkened. Then a man inexplicably appeared in a corner of the room. It startled him and he looked at the odd man sitting in a chair who was just staring at him. “Don’t eat too much,” was all the man said.

It was so unsettling that the scientist jumped out of his seat and immediately left without saying a word. He ran to his nearby hotel and was exhausted and scared. He fell asleep quickly and had disturbing dreams. There are numerous written accounts of this night, and in one of these written records, the sudden appearance of the odd man was so disturbing that a physician was called to his room by the hotel management. After the scientist was sedated, security staff were assigned to stay with the famous man through the rest of the night. Some accounts relate that the man from the tavern appeared in the dreams, but other accounts are different and the scientist’s own journal is silent on this.

According to the scientist’s written journal account of the visitation, it was on the next night that the “man” from the tavern again physically appeared to him. It happened at night in his hotel room. The odd man was seen to materialize and manifest into a physical form, sitting in a chair, where he was staring at the scientist. He was a physical human without any real distinguishing characteristics, but he was wearing purple robes and basking in glowing light.

The man explained that he was going to open the scientist’s mind to the spiritual world adding, “I am God, the Lord, the Creator, and Redeemer of the World.” Open his mind it did and the visitations escalated.

For the next 28 years the scientist was not only visited by physical beings who claimed that they lived on other planets, but he was taken to several planets in the solar system. Saturn was the outermost planet he claimed to visit.

The visitors revealed that the moon was inhabited by living beings—as were virtually all of the planets and several other moons of our solar system’s planets. Then the scientist was told that, “There are far distant earths, planets inhabited by beings similar to us.” The universe was filled with countless suns and inhabited planets. Many of these beings were called “angels,” but they were not exactly the type of angels depicted in the Bible. They were physical humans who had played roles in not only the day-to-day life of humans, but they helped shape history by visiting Earth from time to time in the ancient past: He wrote, “the ancients on our earth frequently spoke with them.” And here is where the Ancient Astronaut Theory had its birth, with the first person who can be accurately described as a “contactee.” He was Emanuel Swedenborg (born 1688; died 1772) the famous Swedish scientist and mystic.

Like nearly all of the contactees who broke into the flying saucer atmosphere of the 1940s and 50s, Swedenborg wrote of his interactions with the aliens and the cosmic information they bestowed upon him. Thousands of pages were produced and published by him based on his visitations. Heaven and its Wonders and Hell (1758) and Earths in the Universe (1758) were just two of his classic books describing his extraterrestrial contacts and the information he was given.

Today, self-proclaimed skeptics and many who follow and study Swedenborg ardently interpret what Swedenborg wrote about his interactions with the beings on other worlds as the result of “spiritual” and “visionary” (hallucinatory) experiences and that he was describing souls and not physical beings. Skeptics who control Wikipedia (the online “encyclopedia”), which is often visited online first by people wanting a summary of information, are told that Swedenborg had “psychic” contact with alleged alien beings. Skeptics have their reasons for wanting people to believe that Swedenborg claimed “psychic” contact with aliens rather than actual physical visitations. But if you read what Swedenborg actually wrote, it’s clear: when his encounters began he was describing physical beings and physical craft. They were people. People who were identical to humans on Earth.

In Earths in the Universe, Swedenborg wrote: “There are far distant earths, planets inhabited by beings similar to us.” “On such occasions there appear chariots and bright horses of fire, by which they are carried away like Elijah.” From one of his journeys to another world he described, “I observed a flaming object exceedingly beautiful; it was of various colors, purple and also pale red, and from the flame the colors shone beautifully.” In Heaven and its Wonders and Hell he wrote, “I have seen a thousand times that angels are human forms, or men; for I have conversed with them as man with man, sometimes with one alone, sometimes with many in company; nor did I discover in their form any thing different from the form of man; and I have repeatedly wondered that they were such. And lest it should be said that it was a fallacy, or a visionary fancy, I have been permitted to see them in a state of full wakefulness, when I was in the exercise of every bodily sense, and in a state of clear perception” (p. 49). These descriptions are clear and vivid, definitely not describing a psychic or visionary contact.

Swedenborg’s assertions about life in the universe, especially the ideas that related to Christianity, were viewed as heresy by the Church, but they were also embraced by many people. Several “churches” and organizations were formed around his concepts (many still exist). In addition, study groups convened so that like-minded people could gather to discuss his ideas. One such group made clear what Swedenborg related about life in the universe. In a pamphlet produced by one of the Swedenborg study groups (Hawkstone Inn, 1832), it is related that Swedenborg received revelations and thus his writings were referred to as “the Revelation” and Swedenborg himself was referred to as the “Revealer.” The book states, “Revelation says, each fixed star is a sun, the centre of a system, consisting of planets inhabited by intelligent beings” (p. 6). It then goes on to discuss a controversy over the number of stars in the constellation of Bootes, with the star Arcturus as the brightest and most important in the group. This is curious for reasons to be discussed later. But there is no doubt that Swedenborg asserted that beings existed everywhere in the universe and that they had and were visiting Earth. He sometimes referred to many of the beings as “angels,” but they were physical beings in human form.

Swedenborg has been portrayed in many different ways, but in his later years Swedenborg was, as William White (1868) called it, in a “chase for the soul.” It was a chase for meaning, a search for ultimate truth, and an attempt to understand Christianity and a host of key religious beliefs. Swedenborg himself eventually came to view many of his visitations as “spiritual” in nature.

Like many of the modern contactees and the more recent “abductees,” Swedenborg felt compelled to write about his experiences and cast them in a spiritual light. A “church” or religious group is often formed around the revelations received from the aliens. Likewise, nearly all of the later contactees combined interplanetary travel with life on other planets, cosmic knowledge, ultimate truths, and a benevolence for the humans race by the aliens. The “aliens” were, to them, truly “Space Brothers,” brothers who had an interest in the human soul and its ultimate significance.

As we shall discuss later, Swedenborg was certainly not the first to assert that life existed elsewhere in the universe. But he was the first to claim that the people from other worlds had and still were visiting Earth and that they influenced history. His assertions and ideas were also the forerunner for many later psychics, the development of Theosophy, the source of ideas for many fiction writers, the blueprint for later contactees, and countless others. Swedenborg truly was the starting point of the Ancient Astronaut Theory as we know it today. But it is important to understand that he is all but ignored by ufology. The reason this is so relates to the depiction of Swedenborg’s experiences as spiritual, religious, and psychic in nature. Ufology prefers a nut-and-bolts interpretation of the UFO phenomenon, so the vast majority of those interested in the field tend to dismiss such accounts as “something else,” something unrelated to UFOs.

Likewise, modern skeptics also tend to ignore Swedenborg preferring to cite someone else as the “first” person to suggest that ancient astronauts visited Earth. They name a favorite fiction writer or someone else they prefer as the “first” in part as a ploy so they can suggest that later UFO writers plagiarized their favored person. But the bottom line to the “first” person who penned the Ancient Astronaut theory is quite clear. Swedenborg, a respected and famous scientist, put forth the idea in the 1740s and 50s.

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