When we think of UFOs, we generally think of alien spacecraft piloted by green-skinned Graliens from other planets, right? A more appropriate assessment of this perception might instead be that, although this is generally the case in the world today, the idea is more recent than most people realize.
Recently I saw an article by Norio Hayakawa which asked some interesting questions, in addition to pointing out a few things about UFO believers in general. Namely, Hayakawa notices trends among the beliefs and values of most UFO buffs he has met, which include "living right," "searching for truth," and a lack of desire for "acquisition of material wealth or power." Many also describe having "something to look forward to in life."
I find that this correlates well with some of the lesser known aspects of Ufology's past; specifically, I'm referring to contact with "space brothers" or "interdimensionals" (among the various names folks used for them prior to 1947). This was a particularly interesting period for Ufology because, in spite of the fact that little actual UFO activity was reported in the same manner it is today, there are certainly still encounters on the record, and many of them involve spiritual elements.
Before I get to those, however, I must assert here that this is usually as far as I get before the average UFO buff stops me to say, "you're wrong! There WERE reports of UFOs that occurred back then!" So again, just to clarify, I certainly acknowledge that there were nuts-and-bolts anomalous aircraft witnessed in the decades before that pivotal year of 1947... but I've digressed long enough.
What happened in the late nineteenth century, inconsequential to many (but certainly not all) modern Ufologists was a the height of a spiritual-awakening in which seances, table-tapping, channeling and a variety of esoteric paths to the inner arts were explored. It had been quite the fad, for a period, to attend late-Saturday-evening "revivals," and although the late nineteenth-century spiritualist movement, with its strangely macabre sensibilities, had been somewhat "darker," by the time the spirit-revival had spilled over into the twenty-first century, mediums often began to take on personas that were more similar to pastors or religious leaders. Two primary examples of this sort of cross-over were spirit medium Bertie Lilly Candler and William Dudley Pelley.
Candler (who, point in case, often went by "Reverend Bertie Lilly Candler"), was a popular medium in Southern California up until the 1940s and 50s. Originally, her family had been rooted in the Carolinas (where a small town that bore her last name still exists), and Candler, living on the West Coast, managed to garner certain fame for her exploits as a spirit medium. According to those who attended Candler's seances, often one of the incorporated elements dealt with the "manifestation" of spirit beings, who often emerged from closets and the like. However, in addition to the more popular "ghostly" manifestations, Candler was also known to summon beings who claimed to be from outer space! In my book Magic, Mysticism and the Molecule, I detailed one such encounter, as recounted by contactee Dana Howard:
Candler is credited with allegedly summoning an entity called “Diane”; a very beautiful, eight-foot tall Venusian woman first encountered by contactee Dana Howard beginning in 1939. Sixteen years later, Howard and several friends had gathered together in the presence of the Reverend Candler where she conducted a séance, performed at the Church of Divine Light, on South Parkview Street in Los Angeles, California. During the climax of the session Howard described seeing “a rising glow of phosphorescence. It was very tall at first, but out of this phosphorescent substance a form began to manifest itself. She was definitely different from the other ‘spirit’ manifestations, a solid, fleshly being, delicate in charm and manner.” Soon the entity would identify herself as Diane, the same entity Howard had met in 1939, in addition to revealing that she had been responsible for imparting telepathic messages to her during their sixteen-year hiatus:
She called for DANA. Overwhelmed with emotion I could not choke back, I went up to her, standing only inches away from the manifestation. While I did not recognize her instantly, I knew there was something quaintly familiar about her. Standing like a sylph-like goddess, and bowing low in greeting to the twenty-seven persons present, the rich tones of her voice vibrated through the little church.
"I AM DIANE. I COME FROM VENUS."
“My daughter,” Diane had told Howard, “always remember, without inner perfection there can be no outer perfection. There must be perfect balance between the realm of spirit and the realm of materiality.” It is interesting to note how the motherly overtones of love, fellowship, and “inner perfection,” followed by Diane’s promise that Venus would ultimately be the future home for humankind, share some rather interesting religious parallels.
It was this encounter which garnered the attention of famed (though somewhat notorious) spiritualist William Dudley Pelley, an American Nazi party activist who later served prison time under sedition charges. Pelley, having attended many of Candler's "spirit revivals," was dumbfounded by what he also perceived to be the manifestation of a young native girl named "Silverleaf," who discussed yet another science-fiction element that aided in the materializations:
Finally she said that she had to go back into the cabinet and help “build up the ray” for others.
I asked “What ray?”
“The materializing ray,” she answered.
What she alluded to was, that to obtain such results in actuality, this was what took place: As the medium sank into deeper and deeper trance, her body began to release its ectoplasmic content, which poured out through its orifices into a sort of pool in the cabinet before her. This is one of the chief reasons for the cabinet at all, that such exhibition does not frighten or disgust the spectator. Into this flood of released ectoplasm, the more tenuous Light Body of the materializing entity steps and concentrates—with the help of “guides” like Silverleaf who are in the cabinet discarnate—on what his or her physical appearance was in mortality. This concentration acts as a sort of magnetic ray that begins to draw up the ectoplasm around the discarnate Light-Body like mercury filling up the glass stem of a thermometer. When the Light-Body, or pattern-self, is completely substantialized, the materialization is accomplished and the discarnate entity can leave the cabinet, to all intents a normal human being.
As one might notice, Pelley had a way with words, which hadn't always worked to his benefit. His unique, descriptive writing style would later "manifest" in other places too, which included a rather inflammatory statement condoning the attack on Pearl Harbor, which had been the determining factor in his subsequent imprisonment. Following his jail time after World War II, Pelley was released from Jail, and told not to engage in any kind of political writing whatsoever. Older, wearier and tarnished somewhat, the hardened Pelley returned to his hometown of Noblesville Indiana, and immediately began publishing a magazine in which UFOs and spiritualism became two of the primary areas of focus. In his own strange interpretations of what was then a field of Ufology still in its infancy, Pelley speculated that the craft seen in Earth's skies weren't aircraft of any kind, but were instead "spirit-vessels" of the deceased, having returned to this realm to carry out otherworldly (and other-dimensional) business!
Indeed, the associations between UFOs and spiritualism were once very much joined at the hip. Although many of those stigmas have lifted and risen past the clouds and into the cosmos with the space-brothers themselves, there obviously are still unique similarities between the spiritual nature of mankind and the UFO phenomenon; perhaps more than could be discussed in several volumes, and certainly more than could be named here. At the heart of the matter, it seems that the ultimate nature of the UFO mystery does still maintain some link to our inner-selves. To truly unravel the mystery, perhaps we need only look within.