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From Mormonism To UFOs

Joseph Smith, Jr., born on December 23, 1805, was the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement, more commonly known as Mormonism – which has been thrust into the limelight to a significant degree recently as a result of Mitt Romney, one of the Republican Party’s nominees for President of the United States of America, being a supporter of this particular faith.

As for Joseph Smith, he began to develop a not-insubstantial following after he proclaimed that, beginning in the early 1820s, he had a number of encounters with an angelic entity named Moroni. So the story went, Moroni visited Smith (on some occasions while he, Smith, slept) and directed him to a book – inscribed on a set of golden plates – that supposedly detailed a visit of Jesus Christ to the Americas.

The book, we are told, was buried on a hill near Smith’s home (in Manchester, New York), which was variously referred to as Cumorah Hill and Mormon Hill. The same book was eventually translated and published under the title of the Book of Mormon. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints was duly born.

How curious that more than 120 years after Smith’s experience, a man named Truman Bethurum underwent a series of astonishingly similar encounters. His 1952 liaisons, however, were with alleged extraterrestrial entities – rather than an angelic one – and occurred atop the similarly-named Mormon Mesa, which is situated in Nevada. Just like Smith, Bethurum’s first encounter began when his sleep was disturbed by the sudden presence of a superior being – or beings, in Bethurum’s case.

In a fashion not unlike the way in which Moroni told Smith that the priceless manuscript that ultimately became the Book of Mormon was “inscribed” on a set of golden plates, so on one occasion Bethurum was also the recipient of (to him, at least) a priceless inscription: the so-called Clarionites “dropped a small flare” near an old power line that skirted the hills northeast of Glendale that was intended for Bethurum’s attention.

On retrieving the flare, Bethurum said that close by was a foot-square package that had a four-word note inscribed on its outside: To Truman From Aura. “Aura” being “Aura Rhanes.” According to Bethurum, she was the “captain” of the huge, gleaming flying saucer in which the aliens arrived.

In addition, an 1893 engraving by Edward Stevenson showing the angel Moroni delivering the plates to Smith atop Mormon Hill displays Moroni bathed in a brightly-glowing aura. Taking into consideration the clear similarities between the experiences of Smith and those of Bethurum and with Edward Stevenson’s brightly-shining image fixed firmly in our minds, one might be inclined to say that Bethurum’s Captain Aura Rhanes truly had an aura that reigned.

But there is a problem: despite the undeniable parallels between each story, Smith was told that his visitor was an angelic being named Moroni. Whereas, Aura Rhanes confidently assured the trusting Bethurum that she was an astronaut from a planet called Clarion. Someone was being highly economical with the truth. Or could there be another answer? Yes.

There is strong evidence that Bethurum most certainly did not meet aliens from a planet called Clarion. Rather, there is a substantial body of data suggesting his encounter was the result of something called Hypnagogia – a term that was coined in the 1800s by a French scholar named Alfred Maury.

However, it has a history that extends long before Maury came on the scene: references to this strange condition can be found in the writings of the Greek philosopher, Aristotle; in the works of the English Elizabethan occultist, astrologer and herbalist Simon Forman; and in the written output of the Italian renaissance mathematician and physician, Gerolamo Cardano.

So, with that said: precisely what is Hypnagogia? Basically, it is a term that describes the stage between wakefulness and sleep – a stage in the sleep process that may be dominated by a wide and infinitely varied body of sensory experiences.

For example, those in hypnagogic states have reported hearing voices ranging from barely-audible whispers to wild screams. Others have heard random snatches of speech – largely nonsensical, but occasionally containing unusual fictional names (not unlike some of those that appear in “close encounter” cases), and others have seen disembodied heads, or what appear to be fully-formed entities in their bedrooms. Humming, roaring, hissing, rushing and buzzing noises are also frequently reported by people experiencing hypnagogia.

Moving on, Truman Bethurum’s initial experience atop Mormon Mesa was initiated after he was groggily awoken by “what I can only describe as mumbling;” which is an absolutely classic facet of Hypnagogia. And, Joseph Smith’s story includes accounts of his visitor appearing to him while he was in the sleep state and, of course, claiming a curious name – again, staple parts of the Hypnagogic state.

Aliens, angels, and a distinctly altered state of sleep-based proportions. To some degree they may all be interconnected. Keep that in mind if, late one night, you awaken groggily from your deep slumber and you see a strange, ethereal being in your room with messages of a profound nature. The entity before you may not be all that it appears to be…

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  • But both Smith and Bethurum reported several encounters afterwards, while not in a hypnagogic state… Not that I particularly believe either, I just found your theory odd, since it actually only possibly explains the first encounters. 

  • Nick_redfern

    Yes, they reported several other encounters. But I would say, so what? Lots of people report lots of things, but it doesn’t make them true. However, those initial encounters DO sound like Hypnagogia.

  • Tiffany W.

    What about the golden plates?  “Moroni visited Smith (on some occasions while he, Smith, slept) and
    directed him to a book – inscribed on a set of golden plates – that
    supposedly detailed a visit of Jesus Christ to the Americas.”  Also, I believe Mormonism actually has some facet of belief that involves aliens. 

  • Tiffany W.

    I know this is a very poor video in terms of quality but the content is very interesting.  Yes, it is South Park but my understanding is that it is very accurate the person doing the recording adds commentary based on his knowledge of the Mormon religion.  I don’t agree with the use of the word dumb repetitively because I don’t want to disrespect anyone’s religion, but thought this was an interesting addendum to the article.  Seems like the gold plates may never have existed after all.

  • Brianirish

    Would we liken that to the slip into theta state? Tons of recorded ghostly apparitions reported at the bed side or foot of the bed as the experiencer.
    ..had just dozed off when I saw…
    The meditation state when we are more apt to interact more with otherly dimensions? Great article!

  • Just so you know, Joseph Smith was a con-artist and fraud.  Not one word of his statements about Angel Moroni and golden plates are true.  The book of Mormon was stolen/plagiarized from a man named Spaulding (@see:disqus  ‘Who Really Wrote the Book of Mormon’).

    There is nothing paranormal about Joseph Smith’s claims; it is nothing more than a good old fashioned hoax, plain and simple; no need to make it any more complicated than that.

    Joseph Smith was a well known con-artist and, before he invented the Mormon religion, he used to scam people by ‘dowsing for treasure’ on their land.

    It is also important to note that Joseph Smith was a sexual deviant and pedophile.  He used his position in his made up hoax of a religion so he could have sex with many, many, other men’s wives (@see:twitter  ‘The wives of Joseph Smith’).  As well, he used his position of authority to impose himself on children as young as 14 years old; making him a pedophile.

    Joseph Smith was a vile, disgusting, perverted human being and a con-artist.  There is absolutely nothing paranormal about any of his alleged ‘experiences’; they are just a complete and total load of horse shit.  These are all statements of historical fact and are not open to interpretation.  Just do a little bit of research.

    The things men will do to get laid……

  • CeC

    “There seems no reason to doubt that this is the long-lost story. Mr. Rice, myself, and others, compared it with the Book of Mormon, and could detect no resemblance between the two, in general or in detail. There seems” to be no name or incident common to the two. The solemn style of the Book of Mormon, in imitation of the English Scriptures, does not appear in the manuscript. The only resemblance is in the fact that both pro fess to set forth the history of lost tribes. Some other explana tion of the origin of the Book of Mormon must be found, if any explanation is required.” Signed, James H. Fairchild. The letter below was written in answer to our sug gestion that the Manuscript b sent for safe keeping to some Historical Society in Chicago, Illinois. HONOLULU, Sandwich Islands, March 28, 1885. MR. JOSEPH SMITH : …”This Manuscript does not purport to be “a story of the Indians formerly occupying this continent;” but is a history of the wars between the Indians of Ohio and Kentucky, and their progress in civilization, etc. It is certain that this Manuscript is not the origin of the Mormon Bible, whatever some other manuscript may have been. The only similarity between them, is, in the manner in which each purports to have been found one in a cave on Conneaut Creek the other in a hill in Ontario County, New York. There is no identity of names, of persons, or places; and there is no similarity of style between them. As I told Mr. Deming, I should as soon think the Book of Revelations was written by the author of Don Quixote, as that the writer of this Manuscript was the author of the Book of Mormon. Deming says Spaulding made three copies of “Manuscript Found,” one of which Sidney Rigdon stole from a printing-office in Pitts- burg. You can probably tell better than I can, what ground there is for such an allegation. “…As to this Manuscript, I can not see that it can be of any use to any body, except the Mormons, to show that IT is not the original of the Mormon Bible. But that would not settle the claim that some other manuscript of Spaulding was the original of it. I propose to hold it in my own hands for a while, to see if it can not be put to some good use. Deming aad Howe inform me that its existence is exciting great interest in that region. I am under a tacit, but not a positive pledge to President Fair- child, to deposit it eventually in the Library of Oberlin College. I shall be free from that pledge, when I see an opportunity to put it to a better use. Yours, etc.,

    L. L. RICE.

  • This connection of a sleep disorder to the experiences interpreted as spiritual is worthy of consideration. Not only have links been suggested to new religions, but it may have also influenced other areas of pop culture, such as horror films. See my previous discussion of this at TheoFantastique and follow the additional links to tags on “sleep paralysis:”

  • whaleofatale

    Let me begin by asking a question: what is real? Is the waking world real? Is the dreaming world real? If one is real, but not the other, then how can a state – the hypnagogic – in between both, be real?

    In order to affect a clear distinction between experiences and compare logically what is real and what is not, we must look at the results of these “visions”. What good has come of them? Then again, we must define good. For the purposes of this argument, good shall be defined as that which produces an improvement in the state of an individual, a group, a community, and, by extension, the world.
    What good has come from the vision of Truman Bethurum? Has a movement grown? Has good been introduced into the world?
    And what good has come from the vision of Joseph Smith? A church, a movement, a belief system that spans the globe. People are good neighbors, good citizens and follow the dictates of their own conscience.That is not exactly comparing apples to apples. Where is the logic that links the two? There are plenty of movements that would lend themselves to a more effective comparison. The state of hypnagogia is one that has been experienced by many, and its effects are limited to the individual. Any vision that moves its effects beyond that of the individual must then be classified as one of two things: the belief of a charismatic individual, or inspired by powers beyond that of the individual. The truth must be discerned by the individual hearer.
    As a truth-seeker, you must respect foundational principles and build on the truth that you know, and add to that. With every experiment, and every exploration, you must weigh the new truth against that which you hold to be true. Build on the truth and discard that which does not bear good fruit. 
    To build knowledge in the world, you must build on truth and discard that which corrupts, cankers and destroys. This article draws inferences through comparison that do not meet basic requirements for scientific evaluation. A more solid argument would make for a more compelling debate. To come full circle, if the hypnaogic visionary state is between the real and the imagined, how can this imagery manifest itself beyond the sphere of the individual? As stated, either through charismatic strength, or through greater powers beyond man.Look at the results of the visions over the decades and draw your own determinations. What was a dream, and what was a vision?

  • What’s interesting about analyzing and comparing these experiences is the seemingly ‘logical’ consistences, amid all the ‘nonsensical’ inconsistences that one should expect *if* all these encounters’ content were all generated by the mind.

    For example, the mentioning of gold in both Smith’s and Bethurum’s accounts –Bethurum’s space babe friend was Aura Rhanes, and Au is the chemical symbol of gold.

    The article should have also mentioned Joe Firmage, whose experienced with another nightly visitor seems like the perfect amalgam between Smith’s and Bethurum’s 😉

  • Trestin

    The same angel also appeared to Joseph in the middle of the day and appeared to other people on other occasions. Hypnagogia does not explain these, it may explain Bethurum; but not Joseph.

  • Maria

    Religion is the early morning caffeine fix feebleminded, weak willed human beings need when they suddenly realise there is no Father Christmas* and they are going to die – here Endith the first lesson.

    Existence is in one’s own hands; the ancestors of everyone living today have overcome the unimaginable obstacles that nature has relentlessly hurled at them over millennia. If thanks were ever needed surely it is for those who have been responsible for one’s own existence; and respect and love forever held in their debt.

    I may be wrong when I say, “there is not one religion purely based on love”. But the Abrahamic faiths especially seem to be based on anything but; instead they rely on unbreakable commands that are dealt with punishments ranging from eye gouging and tooth extraction to eternal torment and damnation.

    Get a grip, take control, be free, and be happy.

    * Please replace Father Christmas with whatever mythical character from childhood your particular imaginary friend cult promotes.

  • Susansheehan1

    While in the Hypnagogic state I have been able to read the person in the in another rooms mind and tell them the name of the character in the book they are reading when I didn’t know they were reading a book. I have also had my name called out to me. And have been awoken by a voice  asking me if I am getting up so I wouldn’t be late for an appointment. 


    Mormon Church spokeswoman Kim Farah said that “the offering of
    baptism to our deceased ancestors is a sacred practice to us and it is
    counter to Church policy for a Church member to submit names for baptism
    for persons to whom they are not related. The Church is looking into
    the circumstances of how this happened and does not yet have all the
    facts. However, this is a serious matter and we are treating it as

    For almost two centuries, Mormons have performed baptisms on behalf
    of deceased relatives, but church members are counseled to request
    temple baptism only on behalf of their relatives. To do so for those who
    are not relatives is contrary to Church policy, officials of the Mormon
    church said.

    The Provo Daily Herald notes
    that the LDS Church “has run afoul of Holocaust groups multiple times,”
    because of efforts by Mormons to posthumously baptize Jews killed
    during the Holocaust. “Leaders said in November that they are making
    changes to their massive genealogical database to make it more difficult
    for names of Holocaust victims to be entered for posthumous baptism by

    Those changes are specific to victims of the Holocaust, however, and would not have affected the baptism of the late Mrs. Dunham.*

    – jpt

    So much for a slap in the face of our President. Just not anything is
    tolerable or acceptable. even for a fad or fashion of the Mormon Church.

  • Joshua Israel Gemmell

    Horatio had to deal with a ghostly encounter, and he resorts to rationalizing away the ghostly encounter for he is having a hard time swallowing the reality of ghosts. Ghosts are not the sort of communication that his secular philosophy is adapted to consider, one who is simple minded prefers the simple expatiation and does away with anything that is complex and requires complex answers.

    “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” [Hamlet Act 1, scene 5,1559-167]

    I was a Mormon from June 1963 to November 12, 2012, and I can tell you with certainty that your wrong about Joseph Smith, Jr. being explained away with something has simple as “Hypnagogia”.

    Know that my own experience while being a Mormon parallels that of Joseph Smith, Jr., and in some particular aspects even goes beyond the super normal experiences of Joseph Smith. I can tell you without any doubt that you can threw away the “Hypnagogia” explanation, because my encounters with angels and demons takes place in public while I am surrounded by hundreds of people and I’m fully awake and in control of my senses. There is something more going on which does not allow for simple explanations to be used in the encounters that both Joseph Smith, and I have experienced. While, I don’t have the stumbling-block that prevent me from opening up portals or bringing down UFOs, I do have fears of being used by a higher power that is not under my control. That is why I left the Mormon Church, because I am running away from God. I don’t want to bring down UFOs anymore, I don’t want to have angels visit me in public anymore, and I don’t want to know the future anymore, and I don’t want the Devil visiting me anymore for I don’t enjoy having conversations with him. Yes, I had to leave the Mormon Church, because it became to real for me when I started opening up the doorways to heaven.

    Everyone that knows me wishes they could see what I have seen, but they can’t unless they have the same Y-Chromosome that I have. My ancient family motto says “CRUX*HEREDITAS *MEA” which is part the Lost Crest of the Holy Grail, and reveals that “CHRIST*Y-CHROMOSOME*MINE”, and it for that reason, my experiences surpass those of Joseph Smith. According to what the angels have revealed to me I have a special mission to do for the world, starting on December 2019, and ending in June 2023. I don’t want to do this mission, and I am running away from God and the Mormon Church. I want to distance myself because I don’t like it when higher powers who can read our minds are in complete control. Yes, my last encounter with three angels was in public, and they allowed me to test their powers to read my mind, and the angel that talked with me was known in biblical times as John, who wrote the book of Revelation. Therefore, you can threw away all the secularism of “Hypnagogia” when dealing with Joseph Smith and me.

    Anyway, for those that doubt my evidence, and there will be evidence unlike anything the world has ever known before, because if I cannot runaway from God, then I will have to fulfill my mission as one of the Two Witnesses, and you will then see all the evidence like it has never been shown before, for I will outperform all the miracles of the past, even the ones that Moses did. Yes, just to give you an example, Moses parted the sea, but I shall make the Pacific Ocean disappear! And when it comes to resurrecting my body, I shall perform it before the whole world, it will be seen on live television. However, I don’t want to do my mission, I never wanted to be one of the Two Witnesses. And now I am running away from God. The sad truth is that the Two Witnesses have already been picked, and there is no one who can take my place, and I am the only person who had his heel bruised by Satan, in fulfillment of the first prophecy given by God in the Bible [See Genesis 3:15]. And part of my mission will be to direct the priesthood in how to capture Satan for a thousand years of peace, but if I don’t do my mission, then this world will be lost, for there can never be peace on earth while Satan is allowed to roam the earth freely.